I wish I’d known…a whole bunch of stuff but I’ll try to be succinct here @kiram
1. No matter what kind of birth experience you have, you will heal from it.
I don’t know about you, but I was terrified about tearing, episiotomies, the ring of fire, vaginal prolapse, emergency C-sections, scars, internal scar tissue, postpartum sex, what will I look like afterwards… Nothing will really matter in the long run. If you tear a little, you will heal. If you tear a lot, you will heal. If they have to open you up to bring your baby into this world, you will heal. Whatever happens, you will heal. Your body will begin repairing itself immediately and anything that it needs help with later – you can find that help and finish healing.
2. Anything that you “miss out” on won’t truly matter in the long run.
So if you wanted a vaginal delivery and ended up having a cesarean…it’ll be irrelevant to you and your baby. If you miss out on skin to skin contact immediately after delivery, you can still do that (and get the benefits) afterwards. Skin to skin during feedings, naps, tummy time on your chest (or your partner’s), etc, etc. if you miss out on getting your baby to latch on immediately and begin breastfeeding…guess what? You can still breastfeed and you’ll end up figuring it out together. If you wanted a water birth and end up not making it to the tub…it’ll be ok. If you wanted to be in the hospital and end up having a home birth, you and your baby will be ok. The list goes on and on ok?
3. Regardless of whether you went to all of the birthing classes, or none of them, if you memorized all of the phases of labor and the proper terms and and and…that baby will be born one way or another. Meaning, don’t stress out about it.
4. Most importantly, I would’ve wanted to know I should’ve been preparing for the first YEAR postpartum. No matter how long, easy, difficult, or cool your baby’s birthing process ends up being…it’s only for a few hours and then it’s over.
I should’ve been looking into all kinds of resources for the first year: a postpartum doula (so I’d have someone who could come to my house and help me by taking the baby off my hands while I finally went to pee, or drank water or washed my hair), a breastfeeding support group (if you’re planning on doing that), lactation consultants outside of the hospital setting, a postpartum moms therapy/playgroup/peer counseling/whatever group, parenting classes, mom groups that meet in parks or go on hikes (I.e. Hike It Baby) to have activities with other overwhelmed and sleep deprived parents, a pelvic floor specialist in my town (physiotherapists specializing in things like vaginal myofascial release, pelvic floor strength, etc), food delivery services for the early days, seeing if you can send out your laundry to be done (or a family member/friend who can help you at first), grocery delivery/curbside services, a good counselor/psychotherapist /psychologist whom you screen before you need him/her (kinda the way you’ve interviewed pediatricians by now), etc.
5. Finally, and this is my very own personal opinion that your baby is an active participant on his/her birthing day. Taking forever? Ok kid, you need more time. Coming on fast? Ok kid, I’m ready for you. 2 weeks early/late? Gotcha baby. Birthing is not something that happens TO babies, I think. I’m kinda of the opposite opinion now. We moms are along for the ride for whatever birthing experience our children need/want and they’re very much in the driver’s seat.
Oh and, 6. You will see yourself AND your partner/spouse in a completely new and different way.
7. Your world will tilt on its axis one day when you see your baby. It might not happen at birth. It might not even happen 6 weeks later. But ONE day you will see him/her and your entire worldview will shift. It’ll be awesome.
You’ve got this mama.