The go-to book for pregnant moms for a decade has been What To Expect When You’re Expecting. I had it in my newly created parenting library during the years that I was producing children. It is so much fun to try to connect with the development of this little life as it is happening, instead of having to wait until birth day to see what has been cooking inside.
However, one of the drawbacks of this book is that at the same time that it logs day by day the development of your baby, it also logs all of the things that can possibly go wrong.
If you are a mom that dwells on fear, you have to selectively read that book, drawing out the things that spark your imagination and faith, and skipping the parts that provide a feast for your fear.
There are so many great resources out there to help moms-to-be have great experiences with labor and the first days after having a baby. Some are really helpful. But some seem like they might have been written by people who don’t walk in the same reality that the rest of us do. They promise things that I certainly didn’t experience.
My advice for labor is to put together a great plan for the delivery room that helps you be intentional about the experience that you’d like to create, but be willing to set that plan aside if things don’t go as you expected. The goal of labor (besides having a healthy mom and baby) is to walk out of the delivery room saying, “That was awesome!” For me, that meant fighting through the pain and fear and not using pain meds. For others, it means walking in declaring that you’d like to be fully medicated/anesthetized. For yet others, it means water birth, midwife-led, or home birth. Whatever the case, remember that not all things go as planned, and emotional flexibility is really important.
And let me also say that for most people, nursing a newborn hurts. It is valuable, the most natural and healthiest route for your baby (and for the new mom), but it also can be quite painful. I certainly am not trying to be Debbie Downer, but again, I think that it is important to walk into the process with all of the information possible. It might be a glorious experience from the first time your baby latches on, but odds are that it will be a bumpy road in the beginning, and that a lactation consultant will be your best friend. Use their expertise liberally.
It is my opinion that our lives are neither about being perfect, nor avoiding pain at all costs, but about going through it, together, and finding grace for the experience.
(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic found on http://www.freedigitalphotos.net)