State of the Blog: A Request for Maternity Advice

Jul 21, 2022

Last week, Kyle tested positive for COVID, and I went into isolation with a negative test and mild symptoms.  I figured I’d take a few days of work-from-home bedrest and be right as rain soon.  Then, on Wednesday, I woke up, and my daughter wasn’t moving and my pelvis hurt.

For many 32-week fetuses, a mild movement break and a few aches would be little cause for concern.  But for a child who dances the Samba almost all day and switches to the Merengue if I flip onto my side, it was frightening to feel not even a flutter.  So I followed the doctor’s advice and went to labor and delivery (alone because Kyle wasn’t allowed to enter with a positive test).

The diagnosis was simple: mild contractions caused by severe dehydration.  And just for good measure, worsening anemia and (shockingly) weight loss.

The nurse was kind enough to hook me up to an IV.  I watched some ancient TV reruns.  And I was back in my own bed, with a high calorie lunch and vat of water, in time for The Situation Room.  But the whole experience sucked the life out of me.

I had been feeling better this trimester (besides the anemia and swollen ankles).  I was billing solid hours at work.  I was (mostly) keeping up with the blog.  And I was feeling a lot less concerned about the chances that this ‘geriatric pregnancy’ could take a turn — not anymore.

Six weeks left and my anxiety is high, my energy is at an all-time low, and I spend most of my day just trying to drink enough water and eat enough iron rich-foods.  Oh, and trying to put a nursery together, when everything is on rolling backorder.  Yes, Crate and Barrel, I see that the item that was supposed to arrive in March is once again delayed…

I still feel lucky to be pregnant.  I still feel incredibly grateful that my daughter is healthy.  But the whole experience — from the lackluster medical care, the ads for $300 play mats, the unresolved formula shortage, and the contradictory advice coming from every corner — has really left me feeling let down by all of the support systems that people think exist for 21st Century expectant mothers, but once you scratch the surface, really don’t.

My doctor recently asked me to start thinking about a birth plan.  So I Googled what such a document contains.  There are fewer questions on the LSAT.

And how do you prepare when you don’t know what will happen or what half the drugs and procedures they’re asking about are?  I went to law school, not med school. I don’t ask my clients about their familiarity with summary judgment standards or the rules of evidence, so why am I expected to know whether I want my newborn to receive Vitamin K or whether I want an episiotomy?  Also, how can you put a question about my preferred Spotify playlist next to a question about whether I have a living will?

During my last PA appointment, I was asked to do ‘more homework’ before coming into the office so ‘everyone was on the same page.’  Because not having a lot of time (or energy) to read pregnancy books and being unwilling to pollute my phone with apps that are just trying to sell my data was leading to 20- to 30- minute appointments due to all of the questions.  Seriously, the medical profession simultaneously laughs at anyone who ‘does their own research’ and demands you be familiar with every aspect of pregnancy before stepping foot in the office.  

This is all to say that the most helpful advice I’ve gotten so far is from this community of women.  Together, we built a tribe of smart, thoughtful, alpha women, and I once again need the benefit of your wisdom.

What last mile advice to you have for someone who could be in Labor and Delivery any second? What did you pack for the hospital?  Did you have a birth plan, if so, how much of it was essential?  What did you do to advocate for yourself and your child when everyone seems to want to tell you you’re wrong?  Any advice is appreciated, because I thought the home stretch would be easier, and honestly, it’s tougher.

xo, Abra

Style

share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Andrea says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that you are going through all this! The state of medical care in this country, particularly for women, can be so frustrating. It feels like a double-edged sword, and you’re damned either way.

    Forgive my ignorance on the timing of this (maybe some others can chime in), but is it possible at this stage to work with a Doula? Close friends who have given birth swear by theirs. It feels like it might be a good middle ground of someone who IS more familiar with many L&D aspects but also has time to devote to discussing everything with you ahead of time, and advocating for you on the day.

    Wishing you and your daughter all the best as you cross the finish line! You’ve got this.

    • Laura says:

      A major seconded to the suggestion of a doula! It’s their job to hold your hand and walk you through decisions. The way a friend explained it to me is on D-Day (delivery day), the doctors are there for the baby, no one is there for you, to prepare you, explain things for you, and advocate for you. So you need someone who is there for you.

      I found my doula by asking my ob who she recommended – that way I got someone who I knew was experienced with my medical team.

    • alice says:

      Third the doula. It made a huge difference in that I could talk through my concerns, my goals, my hard-lines to one person who is fluent in the process, so she could advocate for me while my husband provided emotional support.

    • Liz says:

      ONE THOUSAND PERCENT hire a doula. It is NOT too late to find someone great. Outsource the research to a trusted person (doulamatch.com is a good place for your person to start) and have them bring you two or three options who are available in your time frame and seem to have (1) gobs of experience and (2) a completely nonjudgmental and supportive attitude toward whatever birth choices might end up being right for you. Meet them on Zoom and pick the one you click with.

      A doula is invaluable for any kind of birth experience – unmedicated, epidural, C-section, etc. A doula will be able to help you figure out what your birth preferences are and put them together in a way that makes sense to your providers. A doula will be one consistent presence throughout your entire birth experience – many will come to your house in early labor, help you decide when to head to the hospital – and it’s an amazing support for your husband as well, giving him a chance to catch a 20-minute nap, have a coffee, without leaving you alone. The doctors and nurses are in and out of your room throughout your labor and you want someone who will stay with you through it all, be a reassuring presence, rub your back in just the right way, and translate any confusing medical-ese that might get thrown at you as things change and you try to make last-minute decisions. And a doula will also be a point of contact post-birth as you navigate early motherhood, someone who can connect you with the right lactation support/postpartum doula care/mom groups/emotional supports through the postpartum period.

      I also want to add that a lot of folks have very straightforward birthing preferences – “get everyone home safe” – and that’s totally valid. It’s also valid to have more specific preferences! Generally, the things you find in a birth plan (at least, my birth plan) aren’t primarily questions of safety but rather questions of hospital policy and the providers’ convenience. For example, it’s more convenient for the hospital to hook you up to a continuous monitoring system that measures baby’s heart tones because then a nurse doesn’t have to come in every so often and listen with a doppler. But once you’re hooked up, you can’t move around freely, which can be tough in labor if you don’t have an epidural (or if you haven’t gotten it yet). And the evidence shows intermittent monitoring with a doppler is just as safe for you and baby. Same for pushing – it’s more convenient for the OB if you push lying down on your back with your legs in stirrups, but that might not feel right to you in the moment and a lot of evidence shows other pushing positions can be more comfortable and more productive. But I digress – that’s the kind of thing a doula will be able to help you work through!

    • Beth says:

      Another recommendation for hiring a doula. Mine provided pre-birth counseling sessions which was infinitely more calming than any guidance the hospital / my OB had given. I had two different birth experiences neither of which went to plan but I felt that I had an experienced/calm voice with me. Highly worth it.

      As for hospital bag, mine was pretty limited. Best thing I brought was a kindred bravely hospital gown for post-delivery (which had snaps for breastfeeding and made it easy for nurses to do the important check ups) and I brought my own pillow / blanket.

      Sending you best wishes and hope these last few weeks go smoothly. It is not easy and our medical / capitalistic system makes it impossible.

    • AB says:

      Was also running here to say get a doula. She was the one in the room advocating for me every step of the way — when my husband was too tired/anxious to think, when I was in too much pain, when nurses were changing shifts — she was watching me, checking in with me, making sure I was being heard. As for the birth plan, if I may be presumptuous, I get the sense you are where I was: we have to trust medical professionals to do what is necessary to get you and your baby through this safely. I did not spend much time reading about various “plans” because a Google MD is not worth much in the moment — unless you’re someone who is soothed by extensive research, which it doesn’t sound like is where your head is right now. I personally never watched any birthing videos or went down the birth plan rabbit hole; I had my doula for that. Absolutely my opinion only, but unless you feel extremely strongly about not getting an epidural or trying everything you can to avoid a C-section, I think most birth plans end up in the garbage and you just need to let the professionals tell you what they think needs to be done. I know that some people feel strongly about things like episiotomies (I had one with no meds, not my best moment but by that point, you’ll survive) and vacuums, but really will any of our internet research trump years of medical experience? In the very unlikely event you draw a bad doctor who is ignoring what you’re saying, rushing you through decisions, etc, that is where the doula is hugely valuable to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Also, in terms of anxiety please keep reminding yourself that you are past the point that if you end up delivering tomorrow, she will do beautifully. Find whatever peace you can to stay as calm as you can, but this is truly the home stretch, you got this.

      • StePh says:

        Another +1 for the doula. And consider a postpartum doula too. That first week is no joke and having someone around who knows what they’re doing, gets to sleep, and has seen it all is amazing.

        Also, hire a house cleaner. That’s 100% my best advice.

        I didn’t have a birth plan and it was fine. The most important thing to me was that things/procedures not happen to my body without my consent. Contrary to how it can feel in the hospital and when talking to medical professionals, birthing (usually) isn’t a medical emergency and doesn’t have to be one.

        • Steph says:

          The other thing I wanted to add is that newborns don’t need much, especially when it comes to furniture! My infant slept next to my side of the bed, at first in one of those Finnish boxes, then a bassinet thing that attaches to the bed. The first months are all eating, pooping, sleeping.

    • MB says:

      Another vote for a doula! Mine was my biggest advocate and cheerleader during both of my kids’ births. Most will also do a at least one postpartum visit – my doula (not my OB!) was the one to recognize the first signs of PPD. I cannot recommend hiring one enough.

      You’ve got this.

    • Alexis says:

      Doula, doula, doula!! I just had my second child four months ago, and I thought “Hey, I did this once already, I don’t need a doula” and I regret it. I should have hired a doula. My husband was wonderful in his own way, but birth is gnarly, and I needed an experienced woman by my side to coach me through it. I had a midwifery/ob practice, and once I was in the pushing stage, the midwives were lovely, but a doula will advocate for you relentlessly when you are too weak, or in pain to advocate for yourself. I spent many needless hours in excruciating labor pain before someone realized my epidural wasn’t placed correctly. I think a doula would have noticed before five hours had passed with me writhing and screaming in bed.

      My hospital must-haves: Essentials for your first post-birth shower (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, washcloth), a comfy dark robe with pockets, long cord phone charger, two nursing bras (if you plan to nurse), ear plugs, eye mask, and food for you and Kyle. You’ll be happy to have some bone broth, granola bars, fruit etc. on hand when it’s 2am and the cafeteria is closed.

      I also recommend the Positive Birth Company, similar to the Evidence Based Birth group, because in the U.S. we have a heavy emphasis on intervention and surgical based births. The Positive Birth Company courses gave me the courage to ask questions, and have the confidence to say “No” when I wanted to. Nurses, doctors and midwives assist women in giving birth all the time, but this will be one of the most important days of your life, and you need to feel confident and secure in your decisions.

      I had a c-section with #1, and when I became pregnant with #2, my practice wanted to schedule another c-section at 39 weeks. I asked for another week, and my c-section ended up being scheduled at 40 weeks. I was desperate for a vaginal birth, to know what that felt like (I had some birth trauma from my quick c-section…) so I spent the last week quizzing my midwives and the internet on how to go into labor. I went into labor at 39 + 6 days, and birthed my son the morning of my scheduled c-section. I had a lot more confidence and happiness in my second birth experience, because I balanced my own mental health with the health of my son. Even being a high risk pregnancy with my bilobed placenta, I knew everything was going to be ok for another week, and it was. Sometimes doctors unintentionally cause you to lose faith in your body, that your body “can’t do it”, and a doula, or some excellent courses, can help you push past and come out of the hospital with the birth you wanted, AND a healthy baby.

    • NEl says:

      Abra, get the doula.

      I hired mine 2 weeks before I gave birth and it was the best decision for our family. I met her in person for the first time in the delivery room. She helped me AND my spouse make big decisions, she provided constant comfort for me and was hugely helpful during a long labor.

      I also had a FULLY medicated birth, knew I wanted the epidural from the second I got pregnant.

      You need someone who can help you make decisions under duress AND anticipate your needs. Please, please, please get the doula.

  2. Clara says:

    I highly recommend you outsource anything you don’t have the energy for: Kyle, mom, best friend, MIL, etc. Give them a task (writing a birth plan, finding a new mom group, packing a hospital bag) and let them do it. Even if they do the research and just give you the executive summary, it will save you so much stress.

    Motherhood demands you lean on others so might as well start now.

  3. Jane says:

    Hang in there! I had my baby not long ago, and I could probably write a book on your page, but here are a few things to think about. Your PA’s reaction is not a reflection on you. My provider always asked what questions we had and patiently answered all of our questions at each visit, and visits routinely took 20 minutes.

    Our doula walked us through developing a birth plan, but Spinning Babies (a little woo, but generally helpful) could be a resource for a birth plan and packing: https://www.spinningbabies.com/pregnancy-birth/pregnancy-week-by-week/third-trimester/35-weeks. A few things that were critical for me: I wanted a Hep-lock without an IV and intermittent monitoring so that I could move around during labor, I wanted skin-to-skin for both me and my wife after the birth (helps with breastfeeding and temperature regulation, among other things), and I requested that providers obtain my consent before performing a medical procedure. Sometimes there will be emergencies or reasons they cannot do the things on your birth plan, but providers should explain why at the time – unless there is no time, and they should tell you when that is the case.

    I’m not a crunchy birth kind of person, but I found that there is a real absence of education and empowerment of parents in traditional maternal/fetal medicine. If you have time to listen to podcasts, they can be a little over-the-top at times, but I found Faces of Postpartum and Evidence-Based Birth (site and podcast) to be food for thought about taking charge of your birth experience.

    • HH says:

      Another vote for Spinning Babies and Evidence Based Birth. Also, our birth plan included a heplock over IV, immediate skin to skin, and intermittent monitoring so I could move around.

  4. D says:

    For the nursery, do you have a carseat and a place where the baby can sleep when you come home from the hospital? I was surprised how little I needed for a newborn. Most of the bigger decisions/purchases could have been delayed if I had given birth early.

    Looking back, I wish I would have looked into a doula. I dismissed the idea as too crunchy for me and unnecessary. I knew early on that I would need a c-section. But looking back, it could have saved me a lot of anxiety and research time in advance. Plus, I found my husband was not a great advocate when an emergency arose.

    Honestly, I left many of the decisions to the doctors. I figured if I did not have a strong opinion on something in advance, why did I need to research it. I have no idea if I was asked about a vitamin K shot for my child.

    It sounds like you have some strongly held opinions. For those, ask those that disagree to explain their reasoning. You can consider it and their credentials. At the end of the day, it is your body and you are carrying the child. As such, it is your decision rather than someone else’s decision. Sometimes the professional is right and sometimes they are not, you need to trust yourself. I have become a better parent as I learned to trust my judgment.

  5. Bridget says:

    I want to punch so many people for you – don’t they know this is hard enough?! I asked my doctor if I needed a birth plan (since every website was sending me emails telling me I did) and she said: “Do you want to have the baby in a hospital?” and “Are you open to an epidural?” I answered both in the affirmative and she said, “There you go. You have a birth plan. We can get more detailed if you want but most things are either very flexible (the music and lighting in the room, the position you want to be in, pain tolerance methods we can try prior to the epidural) or things out of your control (what to do in an emergency).”

    As for what to pack, bring your own pillow and snacks for you (before the epidural) and for your husband. I found it was helpful to have a flowy, comfy dress to leave the hospital. Pants either hit your C-section scar or accentuate the diaper you are wearing.

    • e says:

      This speaks to me. I joked that my birth plan was to go to the hospital pregnant and come home with a baby (“our baby!”, my husband would add). Seriously though, I had a few preferences that I was clear with my husband about (yes to epidural, yes to skin to skin, and it was important to me that someone clearly explain what was happening to me at every turn). I felt like since my husband was clear on those things, he could advocate for me if / when needed. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t have too many components to my plan.

    • Lauren says:

      I also came here to share my very simple birth plan: get all the drugs (up to you on that one, but I did not want to feel much/any pain), have a healthy baby, and leave the hospital with a healthy mom & baby. I didn’t read the labor/delivery chapters of any book I read, and relied on my L & D nurses to get me through – they have seen it all and were wonderful! With my second, I realized there were a few things I didn’t get with my first that I added to my plan: immediate skin to skin and delayed cord cutting. Not deal breakers with my first but definitely something I wished I had the first go around. My husband and I also made plan for where he went if something went wrong with me or the baby: I told him our sons had never been alone for a minute, so I needed him to be with them if I couldn’t. I felt better knowing that they had one of us looking out for them even if it couldn’t be me.

  6. Denise says:

    Some comments from another geriatric mum (who had a medically necessary induction with her first and brought home a 4 pound baby)

    In the last month, everything you’re experiencing is pretty normal. I was on bed rest, I slept a lot, I was not productive. I had to hydrate a ton and check my blood pressure and felt pretty gross. The good news is that this is all temporary, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. You’re allowed to be upset that you’re not the mom running 3 miles a day until you give birth. Its OK to be bummed about that.

    I did not have a birth plan because of the unexpected nature of my son’s early birth. I also trusted my doctor a lot and just said ‘do what you need to do to keep the baby healthy’. I knew I could have a c section, I didn’t want it but i also didn’t want to make that call. With my second son i got inaccurate inforamtion from a nurse. I flat out told her ‘that’s not what my doctor told me and i want to see my doctor now’ and that was it, my doc came in and advocated for me.

    If you do have a birth plan, i recommend to keep it short. This was advice from an L&D nurse friend of mine.

    Hospital bag – bring your favorite water bottle, chap stick, a pair of PJs that buttons up the front (with the option to change from long pants to shorts as you’ll have hot flashes), chargers and an extra memory card for a camera if Kyle will bring one. Baby will have everything he / she needs in the hospital. I didn’t really dress my babies much in the hospital.

    On Nursing – your milk won’t be in and baby will need to eat, especially if baby is small. Feed the baby however you can and kick the lactation people out if you need to. Baby will not get ‘nipple confusion’, baby will still be able to nurse if they get a bottle in the first 24 hours. A dehydrated baby lands you in the ER with a newborn during a pandemic. Feed baby.

    Also here’s my last piece of advice. Birth trauma is real and it can occur even if neither you nor baby has any kind of injury as a result of birth. It can be the result of a missed expectation or something more complicated. There is help for women who have birth trauma. Seek it out after baby is home. I wish i had after something unexpected happened in the birth of my second son.

    All the best to you!

    • Tiffany says:

      I’m so mad for you. Your medical team should welcome your questions.

      I’ve birthed only one kid (IVF science baby too). Here are my random thoughts and experiences. Probably repeating a lot of good ideas, but let me echo some anyway.

      I didn’t really have a birth plan. Toward the end, we knew we were getting a C-section due to my baby being breach. The only thing I wanted to make sure of is that we had some skin to skin contact right after birth (my husband had to do that since I was getting sewn up). I agree a doula would’ve been nice—ymmv but I would want one recommended by my medical team as someone suggested already.

      In the hospital after birth I felt like every 12 hours we got another nurse with entirely different views than the prior one. Having someone help navigate would’ve been great. I let a nurse convince me to give my baby only an ounce or two (I think) of formula per feeding, and my pediatrician was later livid about that. There’s a good chance you might have to use formula in the hospital. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to BF. But I’m firmly fed is best.

      Also if BF never really works IT IS OK, I promise you with every fiber of my being. Trying to BF and pump was maybe the worst part of the whole thing for me, I felt like such a failure. My formula fed kid though is amazing.

      If you have a C-section, get walking around the hospital as soon as you are able and ask for a binder.

      Take all the paper underwear from the hospital. I wore that for months because I bled foreeeevvveeer. I took everything I could take from my hospital room—diapers, formula, breast pump supplies, a nipple shield, the tiny baby shirt. I would’ve taken the CPR kit but it was expired. My understanding is you or your insurer is paying for all that—so take it! Or at least I did. Don’t report me if I’m wrong please.

      The first weeks suck. I cannot emphasize this enough. I thought I had known misery as a Big Law associate but nothing compares to those first sleepless nights. You just survive. It will be OK, you will sleep again, you just gotta hang in there. Get as much help as you can find those first few weeks.

      Also pacifiers are awesome. I never researched them but made some weird assumptions about nipple confusion. That’s crap and pacifiers are awesome.

      It’s a lot. But one day so much of this will just be a blur. You can do this, birth plan or not.

    • Rachel says:

      this re: birth trauma is so true. I had an unplanned c, couldnt breast feed. there was a religious ceremony I couldnt do because my son wasnt born vaginally (dont even ask, i wasnt interested in the first place but it was a real kick in the face when I was told I couldnt). It left me scarred for a few months. And its why I had a doula for my second. There are still topics I just prefer to ignore around birthing and feeding. But with a 7 and 3 year old, I am thankfully getting far away from babyhood.

  7. Colleen says:

    Throw a charger in your purse with an extra long cord tonight. I ended up going straight to the hospital from my last doctor’s appointment. Phone was on 20%, and I had no charger. Don’t be like me.

    Ask your doctor about possibly having to stop any meds you’re currently taking. I was on a low-dose aspirin due to a clotting factor and remember asking if/when I needed to stop it near my due date. (Don’t remember the answer, though…)

    Also ask about any meds you may have to take after delivery. I had to be on blood thinners after so wanted to know all the details prior to giving birth so instructions wouldn’t get overlooked in the blur after.

    If you want an epidural, ask your provider how much you should feel in order to effectively push. I’d been told to push with the contractions but I couldn’t feel the contractions to time it well and didn’t really know enough to ask about it. I still don’t know what a contraction feels like to this day.

    Relatedly, ask how long they’ll let you push before using other interventions.

    If it looks like you might be delivering after the cafeteria at the hospital closes, have someone grab you something or bring heavy snacks. I’m forever grateful to the nurse who grabbed me a Turkey sandwich so I could eat right away after I delivered my son at 9:30 pm.

    I didn’t have a birth plan. It was seriously, “get everybody home alive.” They don’t hand out medals for birthing in specific ways so whatever is safest for you and your baby is the way to go.

    It’s okay if breastfeeding doesn’t work out or you just don’t want to do it. You matter, too, and sadly the mom can be lost amidst all the excitement of the new baby.

    Have an idea of how you and your husband want to manage family, if visitors are allowed at the hospital.

  8. MC says:

    I also had a “geriatric pregnancy” and found myself in L&D due to abnormal contraction patterns at about the same stage you are. This was in the early days of the pandemic (before vaccines and rapid tests) and I was also on my own. We had been so consumed with work that we had absolutely nothing for the baby at home yet, and had not even picked a name, and it was incredibly stressful to be told that I might need an emergency c-section right then… Long story short, it was a false alarm and I eventually gave birth to a healthy baby at term. But I wanted to give this background to say that I know how difficult and stressful this is, I am sorry that you have to go through it and I am sending all my support.

    My main advice is to hire a doula. I hired mine early, so she was my first call (after my husband) when all of this happened. She helped me gain perspective, think through options, next steps and what questions to ask. I ended up having a scheduled c-section at term for medical reasons, and even though she did not guide me through labor and was not allowed to be at the hospital in person at the time, her guidance from pregnancy to the early day of motherhood was worth every cent.

  9. Kate says:

    For most of us who are lucky enough to still be healthy and young (geriatric label notwithstanding), pregnancy is the first time we have this kind of repeated, sustained interaction with the healthcare system and WHOO BOY DOES IT SUCK.

    As far as packing for the hospital, pack whatever you’d pack for a long weekend away somewhere that’s kind of gross when you were feeling kind of gross. Comfy (maternity) clothes. A robe if you like that. Your own pillow if you’re particular. Your own shampoo. A Bluetooth speaker. Whatever makes you feel comfy for a couple days. Plus something cute to bring home bebe in.

    You do not need a birth plan. You need priorities. Is there anything that, if it happened or didn’t happen in the birth process, you would be really upset? Avoiding that is the only plan. And if that plan fails, the new plan is get out alive with a living baby. As someone who had life-threatening complications after my second pregnancy, truly, everything else is negotiable. For my first, I really wanted to avoid a c-section, and I had read that avoiding an epidural was helpful to that so I took classes on natural childbirth and had a doula and did everything I could to prepare for birth with no epidural. Well my kid was breech and did not turn despite doing ALL of the things, and so I ended up with a c-section.

    People feel like they need to be educated on all of the things, but you’re a lawyer so you already know the most important skill you need here – how to spot the issue and ask the right question. When they come in and ask you if you want to give your kid Vitamin K, ask why they give Vitamin K. Ask if there are side effects. Ask if there’s any reason they can think of that they wouldn’t give their own kid Vitamin K. And then make a ruling. You can do this.

    • Emily says:

      I resonate with this so much. You DO NOT need a birth plan; you just need priorities. Make them clear to your husband, nurses, doctor, anyone else who will be around during labor and even in the days to follow. If you have wishes for who visits in the hospital or once your home, don’t be shy about that. Your vote matters most here because you are the one who will have gone through labor or a major surgery. In the hospital, the nurses were great allies when I had a stream of visitors after my first child. They were always willing to come in and tell people to leave when they’d outstayed their welcome.

      Also, take the help that is offered and be specific with people as much as you can. If someone says how can I help, tell them you need the bottles washed or some laundry done or maybe you need sleep and to be woken when little lady is ready to eat. DO NOT feel like you need to host people after your home from the hospital – they should only be allowed in if they are helpful and you can easily tell them what you need. For me this was a specific group of family members and two friends – and that’s really ok for the first month. The guilt trip people put on new mothers because they want to see the baby is ridiculous and unhelpful.

      Sleep deprivation is real and hard. No way to prepare you for it, just hang in there and know it will pass.

  10. Bee says:

    Wow, I’m surprised by your PA’s attitude. I did all the research but my takeaway was still to do whatever my doctor thought was best, and my doctor loved me for not having strong opinions and just trusting her, the expert. I told her that my entire birth plan was: “try to avoid a c section to any extent possible, and delay cord cutting to the extent that my doctor felt makes sense.” That birth plan failed on both counts, and thank goodness my doctor made the decisions she thought were right or my baby wouldn’t have made it. So my advice is to try to avoid a c section to any extent possible (but listen to your doctor if they decide a c section is the right choice), and to delay cord cutting for at least a minute or so if possible. The only thing I didn’t bring to the hospital but wished I had was easy to use swaddles. You’ll be constantly unswaddling baby all day and all night to change diapers or let the doctor check on something or another, and hospital swaddles are tiny and stiff and terrible to use. Best of luck!!

    • Tracey says:

      You’ve gotten some great advice here. But I will just add my vote, you do not need a birth plan. Unless you are adamant that you not get pain meds, or have some strong opinion…I just wanted to get my baby here as quickly and easily as we could. I was open to all options, which was best, truly.
      I love what someone said about packing for a weekend getaway that is somewhere gross. Your own socks. A nightgown. Kindle. Easy swaddles for baby. Paci for baby. Going home outfit for you and baby. Tons of moisturizing products for you, especially for your lips. Anything you might need to be comfortable.

      • Sally says:

        You do not need a birth plan! But if you want one, that’s okay too. In this last mile of pregnancy you need to do what will give you piece of mind/lessen any anxiety.

        In my experience, Labor and Delivery nurses are super heroes. If you had to go to the hospital right this second, they are ready to take care of you and your little girl.

        Finally, a lot of people were very negative about being induced (I had to as another “old” mom). I thought it was a positive experience, and it really helped my anxiety knowing when things would happen.

  11. Dia says:

    Sending good vibes.

  12. KLO says:

    We had a doula so that someone would know what was happening. They don’t give medical advice, but they help with comfort and an extra pair of hands. We loved her.

    As per advice from the doula, use the BRAN framework for decisions: What are BENEFITS? What are RISKS? What are ALTERNATIVES? What happens if I do NOTHING? I loved this framework, on part because it made healthcare providers actually explain things. It’s good for all.non emergency decisions.

    I used BRAN when the doctor recommended an episiotomy. Then decided I would try three more pushes and if nothing xhanged, I’d go for the snip.

    We had a birth plan, or birth preferences as our doula suggested calling it. It was short and had things like “Epidural: will make decisions in real time”.

    Hospital bag: adult diapers from amazon act as enormous pads, a top that opens down the front (robe or otherwise), pants and shorts layers because you may have get hot flashes, slippers for walking, toiletries, hairties. Extra long cell charger. Do not bring jewelry, anything expensive that you can’t easily replace.

    I just had a baby at 40. Cheering you on!

  13. Laura says:

    RE birth plan, it’s helpful to have a general idea of what you are aiming for but it’s also really good to not be too attached to a specific plan. Friends had very specific plans and when things got complicated and they had to let go of those plans, it caused a lot of anguish.

    I had a general outline, but my personal goal was: two people enter the hospital, and three people exit. However we accomplished this with minimal damage to the baby and me was a-okay.

  14. Nichole says:

    My SIL just had her 1st bay at age 40 about 5 weeks ago (my nephew is the cutest!). She actually works in a hospital but her birth plan was simple – try for a vaginal birth, ok with an epidural, open to c-section if necessary. That’s it – no playlists or aromatherapy whatever. As long as you know how you’d like to give birth (knowing that there are emergencies), then you are fine! My brother was pretty useless because he got overwhelmed by the pain and exhaustion he was seeing in his wife. They had a very close friend nurse helping them in the room – very similar to what a doula would do. I would agree with other comments that a doula may be the most helpful for you – they already know all the answers to your questions and can help you and Kyle feel prepared without overwhelming you!

  15. Jessica says:

    Birth plan – I didn’t have one beyond “I want to have this baby as quickly and as safely as possible with an epidural.”

    Packing for the hospital – I wish I would have brought my own towel. A big one for showering. Otherwise don’t spend good money on anything you bring – button down nightgowns from amazon are perfect – they will likely get gross.

    Embrace adult diapers – I had them on hand just in case and sure enough when my water broke these were so helpful. I also wore them postpartum. Pads are fine but worrying about one thing is easier than worrying about pads plus what underwear might fit and work.

    The one thing I’ll tell everyone is to stand up for yourself. Lactation consultant being too pushy? Tell them to buzz off. Cervical check too painful? Ask for someone else to do it (some are better at it than others). Are you in any type of pain after birth? Ask for relief (after my first they gave me 2 regular tylenol and called it a day). It’s amazing what women will put up with in a medical setting.

    You can do this. We’re here for you.

  16. Sarah Black says:

    Honestly, my best advice as someone who had her first and only child at 39, is to expect the unexpected and go with the flow. I had a doula, a midwife, a plan that involved a water birth – and none of that came to pass. So much for birth plans. Just make sure your husband is with you, and ideally a friend or relative who has also given birth (and so has real world experience)and that you both are prepared to advocate for what you and your child need. Trust your gut! In my experience medical providers don’t always play it straight and can be blinded by their own ideological agendas. All caveats aside, you are designed for this and at the end of it all, you will have your daughter!

  17. Lindsay says:

    Never have given birth so I don’t have advice; just wanted to say that all of this sounds stressful and 100% like the American medical industry. Sending you lots of good thoughts for a healthy delivery for both you and your daughter.

  18. Kristen says:

    First, I want to say how much I appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and situation– I honestly think that part of the anxiety (and trauma) of pregnancy and birth is due to the lack of real conversations about it. My information-gathering experience was either A) too clinical to decipher; B) horror stories about all of the ways that things can go wrong; or C) sunshine and rainbows. In reality, I think most experiences end up somewhere in the middle.

    I had a “geriatric” pregnancy last year that ended up complicated due to something completely unrelated to the actual pregnancy– an emergency appendectomy (yes, it is a complete fluke) at 25 weeks. While this was terrifying in the moment, we are both OK (I carried to term and had a healthy baby via a textbook, easy delivery), it essentially forced me to let go. As an avid, Type A planner, I had been researching and preparing and working 70 hours a week so I could “get everything done” before I went on leave. Nope.

    After the surgery, my doctor ordered me to stop working for a week and go on a babymoon for my mental health. That was the best medical advice she could have given. Yes, it was in the middle of COVID so there were risks, and yes, I was physically uncomfortable during the actual travel part of it, but this was a game changer. I know you are in the home stretch but, if at all possible, try to get away (for even a day or two) with Kyle when he is feeling better. Go to a spa, get a prenatal massage, something like that. It will help.

    For the birth plan, the same (amazing) doctor told me that trying to write a full birth plan would lead to stress and overanalyzing and recommended against it. What I ended up with was this: a list of 3-5 things that I really wanted, if this situation allowed; and a list of 3-5 things that I really did not want, if the situation allowed. This covered the big stuff (epidural) and the little stuff (I think hospital gowns are itchy so I wanted to bring my own). That’s it. The rest of the stuff can, and will, be dealt with in the moment.

    Other advice for the home stretch– a prenatal chiropractor can work wonders with keeping you comfortable and helping prepare for birth. The other thing I would recommend is having someone prepare some freezer meals for you for after delivery. I outsourced this to my mom, and it was so helpful to have real, healthy, easy food when we were in the early days.

    The rest can wait.

    Sending you warm wishes and good vibes.

    PS- Here is a link to the delivery gown. It made me feel more like myself and less like a science project: https://www.kindredbravely.com/products/universal-labor-and-delivery-gown-grey-heather?variant=32545373585504

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve never commented before, but I felt compelled to write to assure you that your PA’s reaction is unkind and not par for the course (in my experience). Do you see multiple providers in your practice? I know some have a rotating system, so it may be worthwhile to try to avoid that particular provider.

    In my third trimesters, the best thing for my anxiety was the count the kicks app. I know it heightens anxiety for some people, but I liked having a record of my babies’ kicks, just in case they seemed abnormal one day.

    I would also look into the “birth plan” elements your hospital prioritizes – many of the things that I wanted (skin to skin, breastfeeding support, etc.) were things that my “baby friendly” hospital already prioritized.

    I chose elective inductions at thirty nine weeks with both of my babies, so had time to pack the “perfect” hospital bag. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I brought beyond the snacks. Bring lots of snacks. Good snacks. I tried to bring healthy things but obviously we left the hospital with six remaining apples and zero candy cane joe joes. So I guess my biggest piece of advice is always to bring the candy cane joe joes.

  20. Jen says:

    Oh for effs sake, I’m so sorry you are going through this and your care providors are adding to the stress. I know this is super stressfull, but your baby only needs you, some diapers, a boob (or bottle-seriosly, zero judgement, you do you) a few clothes, burp clothes, infant tylenol, and a place to sleep for the first few weeks. Can you enlist the help of your most practical and non-judgy parent friend to help you get some supplies in place? As for a birth plan, I think the most important thing is if you feel strongly about anything in particular- like pain meds etc and go from there. That kid is coming out- it will be messy and a little chaotic and impossible to plan for-just like motherhood. If you have a strongly held conviction, state it. If not, try and relax and lean into the unexpected. A doula aligned with your temperment could be a big help, so can a mom you have in your circle that you click with. Sending you all the good vibes as I pack my youngest off for college!

  21. Molly says:

    For now: if weight gain is a problem (I had trouble gaining weight in both pregnancies and at no other time in my life), the most ridiculous milkshakes possible are an efficient way to shove calories into your system.

    Popsicles are great for hydration too (either the regular kind or pedialyte).

    For the hospital: I was glad to have extra long charger cords and external batteries (keeping things charged is a great partner task!). I was also glad with my first (long labor, induced & with an epidural so no walking around) to have an iPad loaded with a bunch of shows and movies I had seen a million times and so could zone in and out of (Legally Blonde, Clueless, 30 Rock).

    Small things: chapstick (especially if you are already worried about dehydration), hair ties, flip flops (my feet were no longer feet shaped after the epidural). And definitely bring an eye mask—hospital rooms are bright!

    For you for recovery in the hospital: nursing camisole if you want to nurse (easy access but keeps you covered), bottled water, hearty shelf-stable snacks (especially if you deliver in the middle of the night and nothing is open).

    For baby in the hospital: zipper swaddle blanket (I never mastered swaddling with a regular blanket!), a couple of kinds of pacifiers (to give baby options). Also, YMMV, but our hospital didn’t provide wipes (just diapers), so bringing our own was crucial for baby # 2.

    For your partner: lots of snacks and drinks (to minimize the need to leave to get food), a sleeping bag.

    This part is scary but also amazing. And there are a whole lot of folks rooting for you!

  22. E says:

    Oh Abra. Hang in there. It is NOT easy and I agree completely that the medical system does not do a good job overall in supporting pregnancy (though I of course there are gems out there!). Also had my first child during COVID times and that just makes it worse.

    Birth plan advice: as others have said, you don’t need a prescriptive “plan”. The one thing that really helped me was to talk to a head nurse in the L&D dept at the hospital where I delivered. I got connected to her through the childbirth class/orientation. She was able to talk about what that hospital did specifically for their protocols, so I didn’t have to worry about things the internet told me that weren’t even relevant.

    My best advice is to take care of yourself, knowing that in doing so you are taking great care of your baby, too.

    • Deanna says:

      I wanted to second/ support this comment. As someone who lives a rural are, Doulas aren’t really an option. But a labor and delivery nurse from your hospital will know what’s up and can help.

      That and def bring a charger cord. You got this.

  23. Tara says:

    Abra, I empathize so deeply. Both of my pregnancies were hard both physically and emotionally in different ways. But I struggled a lot with anxiety after I miscarried, almost miscarried my son early in my pregnancy, and wasn’t taken seriously about my concerns during my pregnancy with my daughter. So while yes, you can be grateful, you can ALSO be scared/worried/anxious/all the feels.

    Now for the birthing stuff. I had a birth plan with my son and I mostly did it in an attempt to control what I could. However, the biggest piece of “advice” I can impart is to be prepared for it to completely go out the window. If writing a birth plan helps you feel in control, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t! And eff those doctors who told you you have to do your homework! That’s literally their job. You are already doing an awesome job and you’re an amazing mother!

  24. Morgan says:

    I also highly recommend a birth doula! Having someone there who’s been through births before and knows the hospital, etc. And whose job it is to advocate for you is so so valuable! This person should be able to walk you through putting together a birth plan. BTW, I do highly recommend a birth plan just because birthing time is not the best time can be overwhelming and there are lots of options (even if it’s not necessarily presented that way by your provider). Wishing you luck and as much rest and comfort as possible as you get ready to welcome your baby!

  25. Pk says:

    https://mommylabornurse.com/insta/ A few of my gal pals love the info and classes.

  26. Mercedes says:

    I’m sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed. My advice to you is – don’t worry about a birth plan. I had my first baby at 32, second at 38 and did not take any childbirth classes/read any books (nor did I use a birth plan, doula, etc) and had smooth deliveries both times. I knew I wanted an epidural with my first and got one. When it was go time the nurse told me how to push and my daughter was born. For my second I wanted an epidural but she came so fast there simply wasn’t time. (I do NOT recommend natural childbirth unless you enjoy feeling the entire lower half of your body rip open.)

    Good luck to you. I am sending you prayers for an easy delivery and healthy baby.

  27. Emily says:

    Hi Abra, thank you so much for writing about this topic. I, also, found that a community of women provided the best and most practical advice as I finished my pregnancies, one of which was geriatric. My best advice is to let go of as much as you possibly can and let your husband and other family members help you finish the nursery, wash those baby clothes, stock up on essentials, etc. As a type-A person, I am sure you will find that easier said than done, but your number one priority is to rest and take care of yourself and your daughter these last few weeks.

    I did not have a birth plan and never once wished I had one. Birthing experiences vary SO MUCH and I (and my doctor and nurses) never saw the need for one. During both of my births (including being diagnosed with Covid while at the hospital and in active labor), I had to go with the flow of what was happening with me and my baby in that moment. No birth plan would have prepared me for the changes that were implemented after I was diagnosed with Covid in the hospital. The very best advice I received is to listen to your body and how you are feeling while you are labor. That advice helped me take breaks when I needed, push when I felt like it, take more breaths, etc. Hopefully your doctor will be supportive of your decisions, but if you are concerned about that, I echo others’ advice here to consider a doula.

    List of must haves: comfy clothes for you; snacks and drinks; extra long phone charger; your own shampoo and other “special” toiletries to help you feel a little better; slippers or warm socks; 2-3 changes of clothes for baby, but only simple comfy baby outfits. Remind your husband to bring something warm to wear…it is chilly in the hospital!

  28. Kmcm says:

    Ok. What you need is a car seat installed to take the baby home (many fire stations will check these for you ahead of time). You need a safe place for the baby to sleep at home. There are lots of bedside bassinet options, but a pack and play with the bassinet top will work fine for now, and the usually hold up to 15 pounds. It is FINE to not have a birth plan. Most hospitals are going to do skin to skin and the obviously things you want anyway. I agree with comfy clothes (darker, too because you will bleed after delivery). If you plan to try breastfeeding, bring a boppy and your pump so you can get used to it. Toiletries and snacks—but remember that most hospital room are small and are like grand central station, so you don’t need to bring a lot. They’re also not peaceful or restful, frankly, and no aromatherapy candles or whatever the current website recommendations are will change that.

  29. p says:

    Another vote for a doula if possible. Ours was helpful for the birth planning because she was familiar with the local hospital and knew exactly what the “default” procedures and policies were and which options weren’t even options for us. That really helped narrow things down!

    If not a doula, I recommend Emily Oster’s book Expecting Better. Yes, this counts as doing research yourself, but I found her end-of-chapter bullet-pointed takeaways helpful. (I also share her training and therefore think very similarly, so I also trusted her judgement on most things. Including her birth plan, which is described succinctly in the book.)

  30. Molly says:

    I just wanted to thank you for posting and discussing your pregnancy experience. I recently found out I am pregnant and feel like I know nothing. It’s so helpful to hear about other peoples experiences. And I agree I feel like it is so much work on the patient to research everything.

  31. Stephanie says:

    Such good advice posted so far. I agree 100% that a doula is an amazing advocate and comfort.

    Tell yourself in advance that no matter what happens, you will make the best decision for yourself and your baby with the information you have at the time. Birth is so fraught and it’s impossible to plan. Your physical and mental health are critical – make sure your husband (and doula, if you have one) is advocating for you. The most important thing is to make sure mom and baby are healthy (not just baby, and I hate to say it but sometimes the hospital can make you feel like the only priority is the baby. Not true – you are too).

    Bring a water bottle, a nice pillow, a nice robe, and a blanket. Make sure you have pads at home. Sending love xoxo

  32. NG says:

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. Second what others have written about you don’t need anything but diapers and a car seat, especially not a birth plan.
    I didn’t have a doula but really benefited from lactation consultant once home.

    Additional advice: if you get an episiotomy use the sitz bath A LOT.

    In hospital “stay ahead of the pain.” Cry if you need to get more meds. You should not be in pain (if you don’t want to be).

    Finally best advice I got was to only eat things I wouldn’t mind throwing up before going in. Nothing acidic. I ignored this advice and it was a major error.

    Hope all goes well and it becomes a blurry memory that you don’t care about because what matters if you have your kid.(not to offend people who love giving birth. I am not one of them.)

    • Meghan says:

      Ditto the food comment! I had a massive bowl of raisin bran before we left for the hospital.

      Also, you will poop when you push. It happens.

  33. AB says:

    One more extremely specific suggestion based on my experience that I found out after the fact is super common: if you want an epidural/are having anxiety about pain levels, and if they end up needing to induce labor via Pitocin or similar, demand that they have your epidural ready to go as close to starting the Pitocin as possible. Induced contractions are not at all like natural ones, they often don’t have the down time in between contractions so it’s sustained pain and completely exhausting. If you aren’t pushy they may start your Pitocin while your anesthesiologist is on his dinner break and you will want to add their names to your List like Arya Stark. Just a random thought from someone who would happily drown out every second of pain if possible.

    • KT says:

      I second this. A lot of what you read about why you should put off an epidural doesn’t apply to an induction. I didn’t know this until I was in the middle of my induction. It took a while to dial in the pitocin dosage, so I was glad to have the epidural when it kicked up a little too much and i was having strong contractions every minute. In general, speak up if you are in pain or uncomfortable. They can make you feel better. We expect a certain level of discomfort but my husband helped me tell the nurses how I was feeling and they provided immediate relief!

  34. Rachel says:

    The easy: you only need to pack some comfortable clothes, anything that you know will make you feel better, slippers, a toothbrush, and phone chargers!

    The hard: the best way to tell you about birth plans is just to talk about birth stories. WIth my first son I had a very “go with the flow attitude”. I wanted an epidural and I wanted a healthy baby. I got my epidural and healthy baby–but also a csection after 37 hours .I was not prepared for this. Then I couldn’t breast feed. I alwys said I would if I could, but in 2015 NY, breastfeeding is what you were SUPPOSED to do. I was not prepared for that. So one major piece of advice is try and prepare for it to the best you can mentally. My water broke simultaneously before any contractions. I ended up in the hospital laboring much longer than I had anticipated. While I will never know, I believe that contributed to needing a csection because I was not allowed to be mobile a lot of that time.

    for my second, all I wanted was a vbac. My first pregnancy was easy. My second was harder–older and gestational diabetes. I agree with what everyone has said–get a doula. I wanted to make sure that I had given my self every single chance for a vbac, and wasnt force to be immobile or to make decisions that weren’t fully informed. I worked through the day I delivered. I was having mild contractions (as it turned out) but didnt think much of them. I felt good. I moved around a lot. Visited colleagues as it was my last day before maternity leave (a scheduled c section for the following monday was on the calendar but I was hoping to avoid). I got home from dinner and things went from 0-60. We got to the hospital 30 min before my son was born. The doula didnt even get there. No csection, not even an epidural. But I know having the doula made me more confident in general about the process. (still couldnt breast feed but mentally that wasnt as terrible the second time).

  35. Mindy says:

    Pack snacks for after. I was so hungry and thirsty!

  36. Meghan says:

    I know you mentioned not having time to read a ton of baby books, but I would recommend at least skimming Emily Oster’s “Expecting Better.” It was invaluable in helping me learn about the birthing stuff and the medical decisions that go with it. Also, I got a lot out of “Mindful Birthing” (the mindfulness stuff also works for early parenting) but mileage on that may vary.

    I am normally a high-anxiety, Type A planner, but pregnancy hormones took me in the opposite direction. I realized that if I made a birth “plan” I was setting myself up for disappointment if I didn’t experience what I wanted. So, the birth “plan” became “Everyone gets home healthy.”

    Instead, I opted for birth intentions.
    — I intended to labor at home for as long as possible. (I ended up going in at 2cms because my water broke at 37 weeks 3 days before I felt a single contraction.)
    — I intended to go on intermittent monitoring and walk the halls as much as possible.
    — I intended to go as long as possible before getting an epidural. (I got one at 6cm because I was exhausted – the pain I could handle, the falling asleep as I sat on the edge of the bed between each contraction because I had back labor, I could not.)
    — I intended to do delayed cord cutting.
    — I intended to go skin-to-skin immediately and stay that way for as long as possible.

    Some intentions I got, some I did not. But, since it was an intention and not a plan, my mindset was better able to handle just how much was out of my hands.

    Since our kiddo was early, I HIGHLY recommend packing your bag now. If you can get a list of what the hospital provides, work from that. As extras, I brought a robe, extra long charging cable, and my “labor kit” of supportive devices (lavender, mantra cards, etc.)… that I ended up completely ignoring. Turns out staring at an incredibly interesting marble tile on a backsplash was all the focus I needed to get through contractions. (That tile is forever seared in my memory.)

    I wish I had brought a pillow (with a brand new case). The hospital pillows are crap and the covers are scratchy. Also, recommend wearing a lose dress home. If you need a C-section the waistband of pants can rub the incision site. (Friend learned that the hard way.)

    We ended up spending my early labor rush ordering a lot of stuff (diapers, wipes, etc.) from Amazon because we thought we had more time.

    Also, rely on the nurses. I found the doctors were fine. The nurses were essential and I wish I could have taken them all home with me. Also, if your insurance covers an in hospital visit with a lactation consultant (if you breastfeed), I recommend that. While I ended up having low supply and needed formula very early, the advice from the consultation was valuable.

    Also, when you leave, take anything that isn’t nailed down and ask for extras if they allow. Our final nurse loaded us up with formula samples, extra mesh undies, dermoplast spray, a nasal bulb, even diapers and some wipes. I even asked for those “puppy pads” they have at the hospital. While I only really bled for a day in recover. There were two times those pads save my sheets when I passed some big clots at home.

    Finally, that car ride home is terrifying. The first night home sucks. You will be so tired and the hormones are raging. Three days in, I started crying over the most random things. That lasted for a few weeks. YOU WILL BE OKAY – BUT ASK FOR HELP ANYWAY! I had friends who wanted to help and I should have taken more of them up on it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude when one friend (who was a new-ish mom herself) came over with a few bags of ready to eat food to stock our fridge. She then held our baby as I (finally) got a shower in. That 30-minute visit was restorative beyond all reason.

    • Reese says:

      There’s so much advice here but Meghan is spot on with everything above so I just want to echo her!

  37. Jamie says:

    I had a birth plan, and kinda threw it out the window when my baby didn’t descend after a long labor. I ended up needing a c-section. And it was not too bad. I didn’t get the labor I wanted and that was ok. I have a lot to be thankful for anyway. I had to put my trust in the medical professionals there. I had an Angel of a labor and delivery nurse there. I wish the same for you. Generally, advocate for your needs, keep light snacking and drinking water unless advised otherwise and get the epidural early, for god’s sake. Bring your own hospital gown that you can easily unbutton in the front to nurse in. Regular hospital gowns are not easy. And don’t bring too much stuff to the delivery room. A change of clothes, some baby clothes, wipes, basic toiletries, your breast pump. Don’t complicate it too much.

  38. Liz C. says:

    Oh bless you. You will get through this. A shocking amount of the birth plan stuff is niceties to make you feel comfortable, and honestly I might have more opinions about that part if they hadn’t gone to an emergency c-section with my first (because, like yours, baby was quiet for too long) and then planned c-section for my second pregnancy (because twins). The early trips to the hospital with no baby to show for it can be really disheartening- that happened to me multiple times with my twins! I super-strongly-recommend seeing if you can take another person in with you if/when your husband can’t come, and don’t be shy about asking someone to do that for you. It will make a BIG difference and is absolutely worth it.

    As far as packing goes, your apocalypse list is this (and someone can buy/bring these for you if you’re desperate):
    -car-seat to take baby home in
    -clothes with pantlegs for baby to wear home (pantlegs because of the carseat buckle)
    -something for you to wear home
    that’s basically it, they provide everything else

    Besides that, you’ll want to pack:
    -Any prescription meds
    -Contacts and back-up glasses if you wear them
    -Nice long charging cable for your phone
    -Front-opening bathrobe if planning to nurse (I had a cotton t-shirt weight one with a simple tie and *pockets*)
    -a couple nursing camis
    -maternity pajama pants/lounge pants

    Next tier up is things that make you feel good, and this is extremely personal. I would take my favorite micellar water and keep it bedside, because getting around afterwards can be exhausting and I find a fresh face really comforting when I’m stressed. Your most feel-good face & hand lotion. Something to pull your hair back with as little fuss and bother as possible. I would probably pack my nail clippers and tweezers because any time I don’t, I wind up with something driving me crazy. Comfiest loungewear, but on the lightweight side rather than thick and cozy. Non-skid slippers. Favorite earbuds or maybe noise-cancelling headphones, if noise overwhelms you easily.

    I don’t have much advice for birthplans- basically I’d say embrace painkiller and go with whatever they suggest in the moment? But that’s because I had to go pretty much right to the epidural and c-section and didn’t spend time pushing and whatnot. Be clear about who you want with you.

    As far as being prepared for baby, here’s the bare-bones list:
    -car seat
    -crib or pack-and-play for baby to sleep in
    -newborn size diapers, a package from 2 brands in case one brand fits weird
    -a tub of wipes (go scent-free to make life easy)
    -Vaseline for dry baby feet
    -Baby thermometer (to make you feel better)
    -Halo sleepsack (easiest way to swaddle, easiest way to calm a cranky baby)
    -5-10 baby nightgowns (no snaps involved in diaper changes)
    -travel diaper-changing pad (great for on the floor at home)
    -3-5 bottles and a tub of formula if you plan to bottle feed

    You can honestly get everything else you need as you go, and I loved having an excuse to get out every day or two (change of scenery, people cooing over baby, mental health boost). If pandemic health concerns have you wanting to stay home, you can order everything as you go.

    Everybody congratulated me so much on my achievement of bringing twins into the world, and honestly the dissertation I defended at 6mos pregnant was way more work. You’re a badass professional woman, you’ll make this work the way it needs to work for you!

  39. Jessica says:

    Highly recommend the tinyhood labor and delivery class. It was so concise and easy to follow – short 3-5 min videos from medical professionals with need to know facts, clear descriptions of choices and printables (packing list, birth preferences etc)

  40. Jamie Patton says:

    I also want to tell you something that feels maybe unusual. I experienced a surge of joy, peace and creativity after the baby was born. I had the energy to recover and care for a newborn. I couldn’t have slept if I wanted to. I wanted to soak it in. I sort of mentally prepared myself for postpartum depression (which came after I stopped breastfeeding). It made recovery easier, more positive. I can’t be the only one. Maybe that’s a small comfort.

  41. Valerie says:

    For a birth plan, just write down things that matter to you. Don’t want to lay out details for a birth you can’t predict? Totally fine. Just want to go with whatever the AAP recommends for vitamin K drops? Leave it off the list, whatever those unnecessarily long templates say. For the birth plan when my daughter was born, I only wrote down a handful of things, in a bulleted list. A doctor friend of mine wrote down only two: keep my husband away from the foot of the bed and hand me the baby as soon as possible.

    Bring a good snack, just for yourself, in your hospital bag. Giving birth, however it happens, is hard physical work. You’re going to need a treat.

    One of the best pieces of advice I got was to hire a night nurse or night doula to come sometimes over the first couple months. It’s expensive, but it was so amazing to have someone who knew more about babies than we did show up, support us, and take great care of our baby while we actually slept a bit. In particular, I’d recommend having a night nurse the night you get home from the hospital: That first night can be hard, and having someone on hand just to help us help the baby was such a gift.

  42. Liz says:

    Another professional mom with 2 C-sections and one geriatric pregnancy.
    Birth plan is easy – epidural yes or no (I was firmly yes and learned that I am in fact mostly immune). I was against interventions if possible (vacuums, episiotomies) mostly based on gut feel, but obviously when baby’s head is too big to fit all preferences go out the window.

    Echo the same packing list as everyone – long charger, comfy pillow, lots of snacks for husband and you. Water bottle you can use while laying down.

    For the first night have someone who will be well rested to be with you and the baby. She missed the memo she was supposed to sleep and I was on a catheter and a responsible adult to hold her who was not my also exhausted, falling asleep husband would have been great,

    For some reason the nurses wanted to keep the baby only wrapped in that same kitchen towel everyone gets. Maybe easier access for them? On the second kid I ignored them and put on the cute organic cotton kimono onesie and footie pants from H&M.

  43. Aam says:

    Definitely also in favor of a doula! I had a scheduled C-section for previa, and my doula came and supported me post-op. The best!

    Phone charger, some toiletries for your hospital bag. If your own nightgown will help you feel like yourself, bring that too.

    Swaddles, bassinet, diapers, wipes, burp cloths, Vaseline, and a few onesies/footed pjs for baby for when you get home. Car seat and the huckleberry app too. Take everything the hospital offers!

    You don’t actually need much the first few days, luckily.

    And brace yourself for brutal hormones and some night sweats. It’s a short season.

  44. Katie says:

    You’ve gotten so much great advice here already! I just had my first last week. No birth plan here other than I was open to an epidural (and got one). I was induced, which took a long time. The nurses were super helpful about getting me a birth ball to bounce on, recommending labor positions, and regularly moving me into different positions while I had the epidural and while I was pushing. Side lying pushing worked really well for me, and I wouldn’t have tried without an encouraging nurse.
    My one suggestion for the hospital is to bring a sleep mask and ear plugs for both you and Kyle. The nurses all commented that they were a great idea, and meant I got slightly more sleep while hooked up to a million monitors. My husband somehow got the best sleep of his life in the hospital, partially due to our relief that our son was here and we didn’t have to worry about something happening with the pregnancy anymore. Worrying about an actual baby in our arms feels a lot different.
    To echo what others have said – your doctors should be answering all of your questions with patience and I think you have a whole community here mad on your behalf that they’re not. Hang in there – sending you all good thoughts for these last few weeks.

    • Meghan says:

      I used to be a deep sleeper. (Like sleeping through smoke alarms deep.) The second my daughter was born, that went away. I wake up at the drop of the hat. Husband used to be a light sleeper. Not anymore. Second the daughter was born he turned into log. He managed to sleep soundly through her screaming overnight – when her crib was two feet from our bed. So unfair.

  45. Page says:

    Hang in there, Mama! I, too was a geriatric, elderly pregnancy (my daughter was born when I was 39). With regard to a birth plan, I’m convinced that these were created for control freaks who thought they would actually have control over what happens during labor and delivery. The only things you really need to think about before hand are whether or not you want an epidural, how far you want things to go before a c-section, and whether or not you plan to breast feed. Everything else will happen as it happens and you will likely need to be prepared to make decisions in the moment.

    Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was at Hopkins in a practice with SO many docs. My favorites during prenatal care were oddly enough the 60-70yo men who were patient and answered all my questions and made me feel as if they had all the time in the world for me. However, ALL the docs I interacted with during Labor and Delivery were patient and kind and provided all the information needed.

    Trust your instincts. You absolutely made the right decisions when your little one wasn’t moving to go in and get checked out.

    Things likely will not go according to plan, and that’s OK. Be prepared to make decisions in the moment and trust yourself and your partner. No matter how much you prepare ahead of time, there will still be things you need to purchase and set up after she is born, and that’s ok, too.

    At the end of the day, the goal is a health baby and mama…not a perfect birth experience or comfort, etc. If you make decisions with that in mind, you stand a great chance of it all working out just fine.

  46. Liz says:

    I had my 2nd a month ago, and did not do a birth plan with either. I think how necessary a birth plan is is completely based how how important the specifics of delivery are to you. I knew I wanted an epidural- that was about it, so that one thing was easy to tell the Dr/hospital. If you have more detailed wants, write something down and make sure Kyle knows too.

    Also- completely back burner the nursery. Baby likely won’t sleep in there for the first couple months anyways. Have a bassinet or pack n play for them to sleep in near y’all and somewhere set up for diaper changes. That’s all you need to bring them home 🙂

    • Liz says:

      Oh, and for the hospital bag, I would absolutely get some adult disposable diapers. I really hate the mesh undies, and worlds largest pads they stick you in postpartum, and found disposable diapers more comfortable those first few days. And snacks- pack snacks 🙂

  47. Melissa says:

    Birth plan: Leave the hospital with a baby.

    Remember, no one gives you a gold medal if you forego an epidural.

    Set the bar real low everyday and then you’ll feel accomplished– recommend you continue to do this through maternity leave too!

    You got this Abra; can’t wait to hear all about your journey.

  48. Cara says:

    I am so sorry that you are having to navigate the medical system when you are not feeling your best.

    My top advice (and I see others have said the same) would be to get a Doula if possible. They will help answer questions, work with you to create a birth plan, and advocate for you during delivery.

  49. Elizabeth says:

    I decided not to have a plan for either pregnancy, because tbh I didn’t want a needle in the spine, but I also didn’t know how I would react to pain. My doctor said it was just as well, because plans rarely go to plan, haha. As it happened, I had HELLP with both, one at full term resulting in an epidural and vaginal birth, and the other a c-section two months before the due date. So, yeah. Didn’t have a bag packed either time, obviously. Everything worked out. It will for you, too. (I’m sorry this is crappy advice, I am also a lawyer and know how hard it is not to plan.)

  50. Laura says:

    Ugh.
    1. There is so much focus around labor and delivery. It’s important, it’s a giant milestone for you as a mother, but it’s like a day or two compared to everything else after.
    2. Keep it simple. All you “need” for a birth plan – are you interested/open to an epidural? That’s it.
    3. Don’t overpack. Baby needs a sleeper or two. The hospital had everything else. I wore pj shorts, a cross over sleep nursing bra, and a short robe. Easy to open for skin to skin, nursing, but covered when I wanted to be. Bring a loose dress to go home in. I didn’t wear any of the other clothes I brought.
    4. Random things to pack (if you can – you’ll live without these at the hospital): colace. Your breast pump (if planning to use – the lactation consultants showed me how to use mine). Nipple cream (apply before you think you need it). And phone charger as already mentioned. Most of the other things you see on packing lists are just things I stressed about, packed, never touched, and had to drag back out of tue hospital.

    You got this!! My last piece of advice is also to use tune out all of the advice – it’s overwhelming at a time when you’re already stressed and sleep deprived. If it’s not making you feel better – step away.

    • Reese says:

      I want to echo point #1. There was a lot of focus on delivery and hospital prior to baby’s birth but god willing you will only spend 1, 2 or 3 nights in hospital before going home with a full term baby. There should be more preparation for the first few weeks postpartum! For me, it was important that my husband understood that it was my job to take care of baby, and his job to take care of everything else (including me). So he had to make sure I was fed, showered, comfortable, and provide me with time to nap when possible. Whether it’s your husband or another helper (postpartum doula services, or a parent or a friend) – this support is 200% key in the first couple weeks. You can’t control much about your birth experience though you can express your preferences. But the hospital and most importantly the postpartum nurses will be of great help through labour, delivery and immediate postpartum. It’s the “after” that you can control by setting up help and expectations for the support you will inevitably need.

      We are cheering you on Abra. Wishing you and baby the best of the best in the last few weeks of gestation and beyond!!!

  51. M says:

    You’ve gotten lots of great advice already but I want to echo a few things and add some thoughts. I can relate to backordered nursery furniture but you won’t really use a nursery for months so try not to stress. I had a c section so for weeks I couldn’t even sit comfortably in the glider I stressed about arriving on time (it came the morning of my induction). And as others have said, birth plans are great but things rarely happen according to plan. Your OB knows what to do, ask questions, and ask for time if needed when processing options. And labor and delivery nurses are a very special breed of healthcare workers, they are the unsung heroes of the birthing experience. If it’s too late for a day-of doula, even just asking to consult with one on a birth plan or on birthing questions is a great idea because they are a wealth of knowledge.

    Pregnancy is hard. Birthing is tough and traumatic for many. Postpartum is a bitch. But becoming a parent has been the best experience of my life. Hang in there.

    • M says:

      Oh and if no one has said it yet: take everything from your hospital room home! They have to discard it after you leave so it’s not stealing ha and you will be soooo grateful for all the extra supplies when it’s 3am, you’re tired and you just need whatever it is. And have no shame in asking the nurses for extra of anything you need – disposable underwear, infant formula, pads, whatever!

  52. K says:

    Holding my two week old in my arms as I type this. So much good advice! A few other things:

    1. I got an elective induction at 39 weeks because baby was measuring huge and I wanted to avoid a c-section. Even if it hadn’t I would still recommend an induction. There’s a lot of fear around them but for me, being in the hospital and knowing experts were watching and ready to intervene was very calming.
    2. Send the baby to the nursery so you can get some rest. Some hospitals encourage this more than others, but in my experience it allows you to get sleep and prepare yourself for what’s to come at home. Also the nurses can do various tests on the baby while you rest.
    3. I thought breastfeeding would be black or white, it’s shades of gray. If you intend to breastfeed and need to supplement you are not doing anything wrong. Fed is best.
    4. Even in the age of covid, stay in the hospital as long as insurance lets you. The nurses know so much about babies and you won’t have this opportunity again.
    5. Frida Mom products for when you’re home.
    6. Don’t worry about the nursery. If you want to focus nesting energy, pre make muffins etc and empty your fridge and cupboards to make room for ready-to-eat or leftovers.

  53. Anon says:

    Not a mom, but based on my friends’ experiences make Kyle your advocate and remind him that is his only job at the hospital. You are going to be busy and feel weird and he knows you almost as well as you know yourself. He will know when to stick to the plan and when you need something different, and most importantly, when something is wrong. So much of birth in this focuses on the baby and women are socialized to also prioritize the baby over themselves. You need someone focused just on you.

    And +1 for outsourcing everything you can, family and friends will be thrilled to help

  54. kP says:

    Your 5th paragraph says it all. Slow way down. Stop stressing your baby. Nursery, shmursery. Your priorities are out of whack.

    • M says:

      This comment is not helpful, at best.

      As a friend recently said to me, “nothing is irrational when you’re pregnant.”

      Don’t underestimate a pregnant woman’s nesting instinct, desire to control what she can control, or really, anything – it’s rude.

  55. A says:

    So close, but six weeks feels so far! I think my last mile advice is to let it all go – the birth plan (how about a birth direction?), the things you “need” to buy, and even the nursery. For L&D, the thing that helped me most was knowing my husband was going to advocate for me and make sure I was heard. Beyond the rest of it, there is only so much I can learn and predict. For the things you need, Amazon/Target pickup won’t disappear. If you truly need it, you can order it. And the nursery…probably won’t be used much for the first month or four. You can wing it. If you have a blanket for the floor, you’re set.

    Post birth, my biggest advice is that re: breastfeeding. You need to feed every 2 hours, even if _____. Nipple shields can be helpful if your nipples are small (see: things I never thought about). Combo feeding is a huge thing that is hard to find out about. Depending on your milk supply, you can top off with formula – even immediately after breastfeeding. And formula feeding has the added benefit of dad feeding every other 2-hour feed, yay extra sleep.

    Depending on how you feel post-birth, plan on getting up and heading out with the baby. Either in a carrier or in the stroller. I had a lot of challenges feeling “trapped” on the couch.

    Anyway, not reading everything on the internet or frantically scrolling could be a real help. Hopefully you get more advice here than you ever needed. At the end of the day, thousands of people have survived this process without damage to their kids. You will do great!

  56. Mary S says:

    IM FLOORED. THE DOCTOR TOLD YOU TO DO MORE HOMEWORK? I HAVE NOT BEEN PREGNANT OR HAD A CHILD, BUT IM NOT SURE ID KEEP THAT DOCTOR. ID WANT TO THINK ABOUT RHE RELATIONSHIP OVERALL AND CONSIDER SWITCHING TO ANOTHER DOCTOR IN THE PRACTICE.

    YOU ARE DOING GREAT ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

  57. Suzanne says:

    My daughter is 20 months old, and everything you’ve written here sounds so familiar to me. I remember this anxiety and stress so well. A lot of people have given such great advice here, but I’ll give you my perspective as someone who’s whole labor and delivery experience went completely awry. I didn’t make a plan, and honestly it didn’t matter. Any plan I would have made would have been scrapped. It’s good to have a couple questions answered ahead of time (ex. do you want an epidural?), but it’s also ok to rely on the advice of the professionals on the L&D ward.

    For my hospital bag, I’m glad I packed simple toiletries and a hairdryer (only because it was more comfortable to lie down with dry hair). The makeup and book (haha!) I packed never made it out of the bag. I wish I had packed dark colored, comfortable clothes, and more nursing-friendly clothing. Your baby really only needs a going home outfit. If you’re delivering at a “baby friendly” hospital, I recommend packing a few different newborn size pacifiers. They won’t provide them, and that would have helped us all get some rest after a very chaotic birthing experience.

    We’re a military family, and were scheduled to move when my daughter was six weeks old, so I was intentionally minimalist and planned to set up a nursery when we moved, but there were a few things I ended up amazon priming when I realized I needed them right away: so many newborn swaddles (different babies have different preferences, so get a few different styles and when one works, order more- I loved the happiest baby sleepea!), a glider (super helpful to get a screaming baby to calm down and worth having to move), and so many different pacifiers.

    The biggest piece of advice I give my pregnant friends is to learn as much as you can about baby sleep before the baby is born. I spent a ton of money on things that were advertised to help babies sleep out of a delirious desperation. I loved the book “Precious Little Sleep.” It’s an easy read and has such good advice. Make a plan with your husband in case your baby is a very bad sleeper in the early days. My daughter was colicky from day one, and would only sleep on us those first few weeks, so we ended up dividing up the night to give each other a couple uninterrupted hours. It took many angry, desperate nights before we realized that was the best solution.

    • Suzanne says:

      Two things I forgot about the hospital bag: I wish I had packed a nursing pillow. I was learning to breastfeed while so physically exhausted from birth, and my arms were so tired. It would have helped a lot.

      Also, make sure your husband has a fully packed bag, too. Mine threw together some stuff basically as we were walking out the door after my water broke, and forgot socks and underwear… it was an uncomfortable couple of days for him!

  58. Katie says:

    It is so hard and I commend you for voicing your concerns and frustrations when so many women do not. For me, the most important part of my birth plan was clarity around if/when I wanted to be medicated and if/when I wanted a c-section. The rest is kind of up to your body. I was so grateful I packed my own shampoo, soap and towels to shower after delivery. It really did make me feel grounded in the hospital when I was surrounded by so much that was new. Thank you again for reach out to this community!

  59. Diane says:

    My heart broke reading this. I remember all too well that feeling when the baby isn’t as active, unexplained pain, etc. Luckily, same as you, it was nothing critical. But, I know how scary it is. Hang in there. You have this!!
    Packing advice – I had an unplanned C-section and had only packed my regular bikini underwear – which hits you right at the c section incision. I had to send my poor husband to the nearest dept. store to buy “granny panties” that had a high waist. Hopefully you won’t need a C section, but bring a pair or two just in case. And, for your readers – if you know you are having a C-section – bring the grannies : )

    • Chelsea says:

      Second this! I found the wirarpa brand on Amazon hit me in just the right place post-c-section. I definitely wore them for many weeks after…

  60. MaryAnn says:

    For what it’s worth, here’s what I remember from my geriatric pregnancy 17 years ago. My birth plan was to come out of the hospital with a healthy baby, by whatever means necessary. I was insistent on an epidural (I got shot down on the at-home starter kit), on having my daughter skin to skin with me ASAP, and that was about it. I told my doctor to do whatever was best as situations arose (and they did), because she was the expert, not me.

    As for what I packed, I did bring a CD player and CDs, as I wanted Clare to enter the world to Celtic songs, but that went by the wayside once I started swearing like a truck driver on black ice. I brought a photo of my dog for my focal point, and that was clutch. Stretchy comfy clothes for the day after are a must. And do pack an extra set of clothes for Kyle.

    I wish you all the best. You can do this. ❤️

  61. Debbie says:

    Another suggestion to work with a Doula. I am terrified of hospitals and I wanted to labor at home as long as possible. Not only did my Doula come to my home once I started having contractions, but she stayed with me until it was time to go to the hospital, then acted as my advocate (not just the baby’s advocate) while I was in labor (and afterwards — making sure I got something to eat as soon as my son was born). Now, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. I wanted pain meds but we got to the hospital too late. I ended up having my son only 25 minutes after we arrived at L&D. The doctor who was on call from my OB practice was the one doctor who I had never met. So while my hospital stay was really as short as possible, there were things that I wish had gone differently. For me, that was the biggest lesson — I’m a planner by nature and thought I had everything figured out. Ultimately, I rolled with it and everything was ok in the end. Pregnancy and L&D is scary. I worried every time things weren’t feeling the way I thought they were supposed to feel. Give yourself grace — regardless of how many people you speak with, no one can prepare you for how you are going to feel or what is going to make you freak out.

  62. SS says:

    Think about anytime you’ve been in a stressful situation with other people around. What makes you handle those better? Having a plan of attack, being super researched OR just going on the fly and not thinking too much about it? Know you and then apply it here. So if you like being super prepared, get the birth plan together and all the other things you want for the hospital stay in these final days. If you are go with the flow, don’t worry about a birth plan except for making sure you and whomever will be with you know very necessary medical information (like if you have an allergy, et.).

    My story – I had a birth plan for my first and ended up having to be induced the day after my last ultrasound showed the baby wasn’t growing enough around week 37. Birth plan out the window along with all the stress of worry about the baby. Thankfully he had no real issues but has never been as big as the charts would want him to be even years later. My insurance didn’t cover a doula so that was never an option for me.

    The other babies I didn’t do a birth plan just in case something happened and along with all the other stress I would be set up to be disappointed as well that my “birth” didn’t go as I wanted. Just know what you need medically that in the event of an emergency you and whomever goes with you to the hospital can alert to the staff (ie. yes to pain meds, special concern over anemia, et.). Pack your bag now when you have time with some clothes for you including a nursing bra in case you do nurse in the hospital, its ok if you get the fit wrong, it just has to be somewhat ok for two days of wear. The hospital will have basic soap and shampoo unless you think you’ll want your own products to feel normal. Otherwise toothbrush and toothpaste is really all you need. Baby just needs one outfit to go home with, the hospital dresses them otherwise. The hospital will have all sorts of things for you, creams, nipple sheilds, pads, adult diapers, etc for your vaginal and breast care – unless you want your own for your sense of self.

    Good luck and lots of good vibes/prayers/thoughts/whatever you’d want someone to think for you and baby.

  63. Allison W says:

    I’m so sorry—pregnancy is hard enough without doctors and the whole healthcare system telling you to know everything while leaving it to the professionals and why DIDNT you know XYZ??

    What worked for me was to have less of a plan and more of a vibe…meaning I wanted things to feel a certain way in the room. I asked to have a safe, joyful delivery in whatever way we need to get this baby out. I asked they explain to me what was happening and when and why.

    I also DID NOT want to burden my brain with 400 books and readings and articles when I’m just trying to get through HAVING a baby. You are doing great and the best you can in the way that works for you.

    For the hospital, I found it helpful to pack Gatorade (when active labor starts, all eating ends for you until the bebe arrives) to help with some sugar/electrolytes. I also appreciated having packed my own towel/wash cloth from home…birthing is messy and sweaty and exhausting…and a hospital’s thin crappy towel is NO WAY to reward yourself. I also packed sparking wine (which I was too tired to drink) and several mineral waters (I drank em all!!).

    Best wishes for a safe healthy delivery. You can do this! I found it helpful to talk to a labor and delivery nurse beforehand too to walk me through each step of labor. I KNOW you’ll be successful and HOW THOUGHTFUL of Kyle to get COVID on the front end of her arrival so you won’t have to worry about that later ❤️❤️

  64. Sandy says:

    Hi, hope you are doing well-hang in there! Let me preface my “advice” by saying that my 1st baby is now 28 (and also an attorney!) but my advice is basic. Yes, I had a carefully thought out birth plan based on the multiple books I had read and my Lamaze classes (are those still a thing??). My advice is, be prepared to throw it all out the window. Don’t feel so tied to your plan that you aren’t able to pivot when necessary or if something just doesn’t “feel” right. It can be something as simple as your planned out favorite playlist is grating on your nerves-change it! Be in the moment and trust your gut. All my best!

  65. Kate says:

    Agree to the doula

    • Kate says:

      I just want to follow up that remark and say I also am heartbroken and angry over how women are treated these days. The medical profession dismisses their concerns as being overreactive and they are not! I want to punch everybody in the face who has laid their hands on you the last seven months. This is a sacred time, when a lot of women do not get to experience who want babies, it should be treated as such

  66. Kirina says:

    This post breaks my heart! You already have enough stress without rude medical providers who are supposed to present your choose and provide you additional info on them. Every time I came in with some research I did on my own I was told “Don’t consult Dr. Google!”

    You’ve received some great advice so far but the birth plan is really just preferences which may include:

    – the type of support you want during labor (is massage okay, or just verbal coaching?)

    -who do you want as your labor support people (your partner, a doula, a friend, or relative)

    -whether you’d like to be able to move around and try different positions

    -if you’re open to using drugs for pain

    -who you want to cut the umbilical cord

    -whether you plan to breastfeed

    – do you want skin-to-skin

    – do you want your newborn to spend time in the nursery or be brought to your room as soon as possible

    I had a geriatric pregnancy too and trying to work w/a career while your brain is literally shrinking and plan for an event that takes on a life of its own was challenging.

    I would add to your hospital bag an eye mask, ear plugs, robe (it can get cold or you want to cover yourself while walking around pre/post labor and while breastfeeding if you choose to), slippers, post-it notes/sharpie (for Kyle to write “baby and/or mom resting do not disturb”), if there is a specific outfit you want the baby in for phone or professional picture, and any travel size products that are a must for you.

    I ended up having my son 3 weeks early and the birth entire “plan” went out the window. I was prepped that it was just preferences and our goal was a healthy baby and that made it a little easier for me. My natural birth was replaced with an epidural and an emergency c-section. Even though I couldn’t do skin-to-skin right away, because I had it on my plan the nurses had my husband do it.

    I had complications so the amount of nurses and doctors that needed to come in my room was doubled. The post-it’s helped because you will literally have anyone from hospital staff to salesmen trying to sell you newborn photo shots just walk into your room and this allowed me to get some rest. If it is something needed they will come in anyway, but if they could delay the visit they did.

    Easier said than done, but try to rest as much as possible now. The only things you need are a place for the baby to sleep at home and an installed car seat for leaving the hospital (go to your local fire station for help with proper installation if needed). Wishing you rest and strength these last few weeks- you got this!

  67. Hope says:

    I’m so sorry about all of this. Pregnancy is tough even under the best of circumstances.

    I had a rough labor, so the hospital brought in a doula to work with me from their doula program. She was amazing! We decided against having more kids, but if I was going to do it again, I would 100% hire a doula.

    A doula is the one person in the room who is both completely focused on your needs and knows how to make things better. My husband was a rock, but the doula was the person who got the nurses to move me into a more comfortable position on a birthing ball (they’d had me on my back in bed to make it easier to monitor me).

    They can also help you make a birth plan. If it makes you feel any better, I didn’t write one. I talked about my wishes with my husband, but everyone I know with a 72 point birthing plan complained afterwards about things not going their way. Birth is messy! I feel like it’s best to go in with an idea of what you want, but to understand that it’s not likely to go as expected.

    Breastfeeding is incredibly dehydrating, btw. So whatever system you have right now for making sure you get enough water… plan on keeping it going after you give birth.

  68. Emily says:

    Abra,
    Birth plans- thow out the window,as most pregnancies don’t go as planned!
    To go bag- Clothes to come home in, outfit for baby, toothbrush and a brush!
    Formula- Do what you can to breat feed. (Not easy, let me tell you) I got a double pump machine and when my milk came in, I produced enough milk to give away. (You will thank me later!) My son is 25 and is healthy as an ox and never sick. (11 months of BF!)
    Being prepared- You will never be prepared, no matter how much you do or don’t read…just love that little girl with all you can and do what you think is right at the time. You all will be fine!

  69. Melissa says:

    Biggest advice – ask for help and ask questions. Doula is a great idea so you have someone to advocate for you. Getting the baby out so you both are healthy is the only birth plan you need. Send baby to the nursery so that you can get a few hours of sleep (this is a life saver).

    If you decide to breast feed, work with a lactation consultant. It is one of the hardest parts about becoming a parent. Formula is great too, fed is best!

    Lean on your friends/family – the early days are tough. You will get through it!

  70. Alex says:

    I echo all of the comments about considering a doula. Even if you do not have one with you during labor, it can be helpful to have someone to talk through options and questions in advance.

    And if there is one book to read, I highly recommend The Birth Partner. It is the only book you need!

  71. LynnS. says:

    Sorry to hear you are going through this! I know it’s stressful. I had 2 pregnancies where the last trimester went a little wild, and my advice would be to be to just keep an open mind and be ready to pivot. I got my hospital bag packed by week 33-34ish. The essentials for me were: a small pillow (to hold against incision for support in case of emergency c-section), outfits for me and baby to go home in, comfy slipper socks (those rooms are cold!), hair clips, lotion, a few snacks, some reading material (I read entire books while I was in early stage labor), basic toiletries and a phone charger. For your own going-home outfit, I strongly recommend a flowy dress of some sort. If you have to have a c-section, I learned from painful experience that anything with a waistband will be torture to wear.

    One thing that was a game changer for my kids (both born early – one at 34 weeks and one at 37) – my OB had me get steroid shots to develop their lungs in case they had to come early. Neither spent any time in NICU or had breathing issues when they were born. I don’t know your medical situation, but you may want to ask about this to see what your doctor thinks.

    Also, at week 33, I started taking my hospital bag in the car with me to OB appointments in case the OB sent me straight to the hospital to deliver.

  72. Susan says:

    Hi Abra, I just want to send you some encouragement here. Be gentle with yourself in these final weeks. Outsource what you can. Task your loved ones nearest and dearest to you with specific things to do to help. Rest, put your feet up, meditate. If you have Peloton App there are six female instructors who are pregnant right now! Anna Greenberg is in her final trimester and she has an entire program of prenatal yoga and meditations! I love Chelsea Jackson Roberts for meditations and she is pregnant now too! Find love and support in this community. For the hospital, have your plan in writing but be flexible and understand things may not go to plan. I did not have a doula for either of my babies but it sounds like this would be great for you to have additional advocacy and support. In your bag, bring a pretty nightgown and or pajamas to wear after the birth and that will look nice in pictures; Posh Peanut has beautiful PJs and matching swaddles for baby. Soft slippers or warm socks because the hospital room will be cold! An eye mask to help with sleep and block light from all the equipment that runs 24/7. A favorite shower gel and shampoo for your first shower. Moisturizer for your face, a little bit of makeup if you want for photos, a hair brush. Nipple cream if you intend to breastfeed. Comfy outfit to wear home. Charger for your phone. You’ve got this, and we are here for you! Can’t wait to help you welcome your baby into your family!

  73. CaitlYn says:

    I saw a previous comment saying that their birth plan was to give birth in a hospital and have an epidural. This was 100% my birth plan! Nothing more detailed than that. Both of my births ended up having unexpected components – one was induced and the other was an emergency c-section. So sometimes it doesn’t end up being exactly what we envisioned.
    As for what to bring to the hospital – I didn’t use most of what I brought. The items that stick out to me now as most helpful were the long phone charging cord, my glasses (not contacts), lip balm, and slippers.
    Sending you a hug! It’s a lot and I think the PA’s comment about doing more research before your appointments was insensitive. For my first pregnancy, I read stuff and still had a ton of questions! Maybe you could see someone other than that PA?

  74. CitrineDC says:

    Abra, you have already gotten so much great advice. Here are my two cents:

    Hospital tour – We did a pre-tour about 6 weeks prior to delivery date, where we visited the ward, saw the patient rooms, went through the schedule, discussed breast feeding and other options, meal services, etc. That really helped my anxiety, especially being a visual person.

    Pack minimally, including a light robe if you want to walk the halls and slippers with anti-slip grip. I would be careful about wearing socks that could be slippery. There was a lot of stuff I brought to the hospital I never used, it looked like we were moving in. The biggest item was a giant labor ball which I never came close to using. Bring one baby outfit to bring baby home in and a cute flowy dress for yourself. And conditioner for your hair (I was too uncomfortable / tired to shampoo). Stay in the hospital as long as you can (I stayed 5 nights).

    Regarding an induction, I had a scheduled one, as my daughter was getting too much amniotic fluid. I went in early in the morning, very slow drip of pitocin all day until my doctor arrived on shift late afternoon, per her directions. I had very mild cramps. Once she got there, they cranked it up (ouch!), I tried pushing for several hours, and ended up with a c-section because baby’s vitals were starting to slow. It actually wasn’t bad at all, about 15 mins. beginning to end.

    I also had an epidural once the pitocin kicked in and started getting really nauseous at one point, and they added something to the drip to help with that. Eat a big breakfast that day if you end up having to do something similar! (I wasn’t allowed to eat anything once I got to the hospital.)

    I am sure you already have pup sitters lined up! Don’t buy too many bottles – get a couple different ones and if you go the bottle route, you can test out which ones your baby likes. Same with pacifiers (my daughter hated all of them and never used them!) You are in the home stretch and you got this!

  75. Anu says:

    Congratulations on your baby, and i am so glad you went into L&D when you did. There is so much we dont know as non-medical professionals that its baffling when they ask us to make an informed decision.

    I watched a few L&D nurses on youtube who were a great recourse for me to understanding what could potentially happen and what would be a general solution, ofcourse that was just a baseline but a good jumping off point for futher questions.

    I did have a birth plan but it was useless as everything did not go according to plan so have a loose idea of what you want ( eg: dont want any pian management or or no Pitocin before and epidural) but the rest is really at the moment.

    Also have a good lactation consultant on hand, you might not have feeding issues at first but most issues that you will face those first 3 months usually means a feeding issue ( We had nap issues which got resolved mostly because my LC diagnosed Torticollis in my daughter. As the pain got better the feeding time increase and so she slept well).

    Best of Luck and know you are going to be the best mama your little one needs.

  76. Hillary says:

    I’m so sorry this last stretch is an anxious and irritating one!

    My midwives and ob provide a check list of boxes for your birth plan but for you, know that you can make it as complex or simple as you want. Candidly, the more simple and framework-based plan you have is better for your sanity and that of your medical care team. I find elaborate plans are more intended for people who want as little medical intervention as possible. If you’d like to get an epidural ASAP then it’s more straight forward.

    If nothing else, you and your partner can ask, 1) Do we have time to make a decision on this and 2) what are the alternatives? You have a right to *informed* consent.

    Ultimately, the birth plan is just that, a plan. And babies don’t care about your plans. We never even pulled out my birth plan because the circumstances of my daughter’s birth were urgent.

    Hospital bag:
    -Snacks for you and partner (meals for you are covered by insurance, but the kitchen still closes and some hospital cafeteria’s don’t have access 24/7)
    -Slip on shoes to go home. I was shocked by how swollen my feet were!
    -easy, zip sleeper for baby to wear on the way home
    -car seat (leave in the car)
    -chapstick
    -outfit for you and partner to go home
    -pjs for partner. For you, sure, but I don’t know anyone who wore them
    -maybe a robe – not a need, but could help with comfort
    -extra long phone charger cables, like 10 ft.
    -toiletries. I personally didn’t take many pictures in the hospital and didn’t care what I looked like.
    -eye mask and ear plugs. Hospitals are so, so loud.
    -Nursing/pumping bra.
    -nursing pillow. When you have no idea what you’re doing anyway, the flimsy hospital pillows stacked up are annoying as heck. You can leave this in the car until she’s born.

  77. Pat says:

    Old school mama of a 16 year old and soon to be 23 year old here. I am sorry about everything that is going on and particularly about how condescending your PA sounds.

    I will give it to you straight. My advice: pack gowns/bathrobes you can throw away. Darkish so they hold up to stains and you can walk around. Bring hemorrhoid medicine, baby socks, and your own baby wipes, and BIG sanitary pads. Oh and nipple cream (though my son hated that and I had to wipe it off!) “Steal” everything the hospital offers you (lol) especially the sitz bath. At home- plan to sit in that daily with hot hot water and plain epsom salts. I used to soak my sore nipples in epsom salt water too with a shot glass. Good times!

    Above all, please try to rest these last few weeks, and enjoy the bslance of your pregnancy. At the end of the day, all will be well.

  78. Nancy M says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this – but you’re right, your community can help you. My first birth was traumatic and no book would have prepared me. For my second birth I hired a doula, and all those questions could be shifted to her instead. It was so nice to have an advocate in the room with me. It was still a difficult birth, but at least I felt supported. Sending my love!

  79. Emma says:

    I was feeling very overwhelmed with the birth plan and my doctor helped me draft a pretty simple, flexible one (ie I want to try without the epidural but if I’m asking for it give it to me, I generally trust the doctors, no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary though). Expecting better has some good info about birth plans too. I agree that expecting people to Google this stuff and then have an opinion is kind of a cop-out. Can your doctor help? Once I told mine I needed help she was very helpful. Sorry you’re having a rough time! I’m at 29 weeks and definitely feeling some anxiety.

  80. Jenn S. says:

    Not a mom, so no advice – but thank you for sharing your vulnerability with this community you have built. What you’ve gone through sounds frightening AF, and exhausting still. Best wishes for the rest of pregnancy and L&D to be as, “uneventful,” as possible.

  81. Lee says:

    Those final weeks are the worst, and it sounds like you have a number of other stressors on top of it! Based on my limited experience (2 pregnancies/kids) I’d recommend:
    – Read/skim The Birth Partner (of course my favorite birthing book was meant for partners…) I found it to be the right amount of information for me to get an idea of what to plan for without being information overload. It also seemed — to me!– to be the right balance of evidence -based recommendations with a little bit of preference for less intervention. And a book helped me from falling down the internet rabbit hole
    – I stressed about my birth plan but ultimately decided that I really trusted my doctor’s and just wanted my plan to include an overview of preferences. (E.g, my preference is to labor without an epidural, my preference is to avoid a C-section, etc.) I also included insurance and emergency information, just in case. I ended up just sharing it with my husband to remind him to advocate for me if I needed it. But really, I didn’t care how the babies arrived as long as we both got out of there safely!
    -I spent about 109 hours learning about cloth diapering and evern more time fussing over new curtains for the nursery. I ended up using disposable diapers and kept the curtains I already had, and it was fine. I think it’s normal for a 3rd trimester brain to worry about things that are ultimately meaningless but seem essential at the time. So go easy on yourself!

  82. CJR says:

    No advice, just want to tell you that you’re already doing great! You got this mama.

  83. Kate says:

    Abra, sorry you’re going through this. I delivered twins at 32 weeks. They’re now 10 and perfect.

    I told my doctor that my birth plan was to do whatever was necessary to deliver healthy kids. My two cents is that no birth experience is perfect and not to pressure yourself to know it all. Just focus on what’s important.

    It’s nice to have a playlist and presentable pajamas, but sometimes the best laid plans go astray. Be kind to yourself. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself and try to focus on the big picture.

    You’ve got this. Wishing you an uneventful and healthy next few months. <3

  84. Sere says:

    I gave birth 15 and 13 years ago, and not in the US, so I don’t have any good practical advice for you. But I hear you: late pregnancy IS tough, and overwhelming. If I could go back to my pre-baby self, I would tell her a couple of things:

    1. Try not to hold too tightly to preconceptions or birth plans. What will unfold is not entirely within your control.

    2. Over the years, your relationship with your child will be so rich and nuanced and full of love, that the very short time (in retrospect) you spent being pregnant, giving birth, breastfeeding etc will only form a tiny proportion of it.

    Good on you for reaching out for support, and all the best for the next stages. You got this!

  85. M says:

    Hang in there these last few weeks – it’s tough, stressful, and uncomfortable, and totally ok if “productivity” as we are often conditioned to view it goes out the window. So much really good advice here!
    2 additional things to add to consider based on my 2 deliveries (at 39 and 37 weeks):

    – Savory snacks. I found that the hospital had juice, popsicles, etc for laboring moms, and I brought Gatorade in addition to water. Halfway through labor, all I wanted was something savory. Second baby we brought some instant bone broth (this was OK’ed by the Ob and nurses) to have as a clear liquid savory snack to offset all the sweet stuff and I was glad to have that literal palate cleanser.
    – Think about how you would approach mental health support. With my second (born July 2020 so early COVID days) I dealt with PPA (honestly likely also during pregnancy). I think that if I had proactively considered and researched how/who I would approach mental health, with actual actionable steps and potential references from my OB, I may have sought help much earlier rather than not even knowing where to start. Post-partum is amazing and special in so many ways, but talk therapy really helped me process the challenges and the immense life shift, and ultimately set me on a path to better handle (and find more joy in) those crazy first months.

  86. Kellie says:

    Hey Abra, I’ve been reading your blog for a decade now and during this time I’ve had 3 babies. I am very pro-medical but I would highly suggest you hire a doula even if it’s just for delivery day! They will advocate for you as you deliver and explain your options that you might not be aware of otherwise – especially with your first baby. We can trust our doctors to get us a healthy mom and baby but a doula is a huge peace of mind. Good luck!

  87. Anna says:

    #1 – you are doing an incredible juggling these demands and I am outraged by the attitude of your PA. It is literally their job to answer your questions!

    #2 – my first was an unexpected preemie (34 weeks) and we went straight to hospital from doctors’ office. My second was delivered on her due date. I didn’t pack at all for one, and overpacked for the second. Loved my 40 oz hydroflask (covid protocols have dramatically decreased water deliveries to the recovery room), pillows from home for me and my husband, and *an italian sub I brought for a post-delivery snack* – that deli meat just hits different at 3am. I had no birth plan either time (other than ‘have baby’) and things… worked out.

    #3 – assign Kyle all the paperwork. There’s a lot and you’ll have brain fog.

    #4 – L&D, recovery, and early days are exciting, exhausting, and isolating. Consider finding a moms group (the DMV has ‘PACE’ and others, not sure if there’s something similar in Spokane). I found it really helpful to have a lifeline to others going through the same phases as me, and many are still close friends 4 years later.

    #5 – if your daughter ends up being born early, the care, love, and attention she will receive in the hospital will be unmatched. She will get through this, and so will you.

    And of course – sending so much love and good vibes and easy labor wishes. It takes a village and you have a vast one rooting for you.

  88. Kellie says:

    Last piece of advice – go to postpartum physical therapy EVEN if you feel great EVEN if your doctor says you don’t need it EVEN if insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s invaluable and your future self will thank you.

  89. Laura says:

    I am so disappointed in your medical providers. I am a medical malpractice defense attorney who has handled many ob cases. I agree with Bridget above. This is unnecessarily overwhelming to you. Agree you need to decide hospital and epidural.

    I did a dry run to the hospital when I too was dehydrated, at 9 months. I only brought some toiletries, a six pack of coconut water, outfit for the baby.

    You will make additional decisions as circumstances unfold. I would strongly consider an alternate care team. I would also suggest joining Mothers Esquire if you have not already. Please feel free to contact me. I had two high risk, pregnancies in my late thirties and I feel what you are going through.

  90. Em says:

    Do you follow Karrie Locher or Mommy Labor Nurse on Instagram? They both have cheap virtual classes you can take that help with decision making. I wouldn’t have known about all the procedures they eventually had to do during my delivery if it hadn’t been for Mommy Labor Nurse’s class.

    They both provide helpful worksheets for deciding your birth plan but the biggest thing to remember is that it’s a plan not a concrete document. Labor goes differently for every woman and so it’s best to be flexible but know all the jargin so you aren’t caught off guard.

  91. Sam says:

    My OB told me to do research on Babycenter.com and ignore everything else on internet. There’s so much info and opinion out there, it’s hard to filter through. I still get emails from them on my now 8 year old’s development and growth.

    I did not have a birth plan. I trusted my doctors to know what they’re doing and put mine and my baby’s health first. I always knew I wanted an epidural but otherwise, I went with the flow. Had a C-section and a healthy baby. You can plan all you want but no two births are the same and there are so many factors involved.

    You got this!

  92. D says:

    Fellow geriatric pregnancy mom. I did not have the time or inclination to do a birth plan, so I went into childbirth with two goals. I wanted to know what was happening during my delivery and why and I wanted my daughter and I to be safe and healthy. It worked out just fine.

    As far as a hospital bag, I packed comfy but pretty pajamas for photos, leggings and long button downs, and nursing bras. I wish I had brought one of my own swaddle blankets for my daughter because the hospital ones were impossible. Long phone charger and kindle were also necessary.

    Don’t be afraid to kick the lactation consultants etc. out if you don’t click or they’re coming at a bad time. I wish I had!

  93. RR says:

    I’ve had three children–twins and then a single, all from IVF pregnancies. I did not have a birth plan for any of them, beyond a basic understanding with the twins that I wanted an epidural and understood there was a high risk of c-section. My water broke at 37, 4, but I never felt a contraction and agreed to a c-section after about 10 hours. Was it the “right” call? No idea. The babies and I were fine, and that’s all I cared about. For the third, I opted for another c-section, and that was the extent of my birth plan.

    Now, my twins are 14, so it’s been a minute, but I didn’t have a playlist, I didn’t overthink what to pack–I don’t remember actually needed anything or wishing I had anything different. Besides lip balm–take a great lip balm.

    I feel like pregnancy has become just another test for new mothers, like everything else about motherhood in this millenium. Everything feels so incredibly critical when you are pregnant and your children are young.

    The best advice I can give you is that it’s not that critical. You don’t ruin your kids by whether you give them a bath immediately or wait, by whether you breast or bottle feed, by whether you have the right baby stuff or the perfect nursery. It’s okay to worry about those things because we all do, but it is not what matters. What matters is just you and how you show up for your kids every day of their lives–not the details.

    One thing I’ve learned over the past 15 years since I was pregnant, to now having teenagers is that it works out. Some days you feel like a bad mom, or a bad wife, or a bad employee. Every day is not your best. But, over the years, it works out. Everyone moves forward. Your career progresses. Your kids grow and learn and thrive.

    You are going to be great. Give yourself grace, even when the world doesn’t.

  94. janelle says:

    I have two pieces of advice: 1) Trust yourself, and 2) love your child. Your greatest resource is your authentic wisdom. You don’t have to know everything except yourself and your child. You got this.

  95. Sarah B says:

    My birth plan was simple – if i am unable to make decisions, my husband is in charge. I told him i trust him implicitly and will support anything he does. I was open to not having an epidural, but once the pain started i quickly changed my mind. I didn’t want an episiotomy unless necessary. Kid needed Vitamin K and we wanted an hour of skin-to-skin after birth before anyone visited. We had to okay all visitors (my family is aggressive and practically broke in while i was delivering the placenta, ugh).

    I didn’t make specific decisions beyond that, we decided to roll with it and adjust as we went for both my births. I didn’t play music or use my own robe (I was bloody and didn’t want confining clothes after – hospital gown was super practical). Having snacks, water bottle, and comfy clothes for my husband was probably one of the most important things we learned with our first kid. No one takes care of him at the hospital and he’s got to be ready to take care of me once we get sent home!

    My overall suggestion is to use the birth plan to discuss which was your leaning with your doctor, and if any of the items on the list are deal breakers. If they aren’t, it’s okay to be open to deciding at the time. It will all work out!

  96. EMM says:

    I’m 6 weeks out too, first time, and mirror so many of your thoughts and emotions here. Just a note of solidarity 🙂 Will be eagerly reading the wisdom and thoughtful advice in these comments as we prep for the impending arrival. Thank you for posting this.

  97. Sydni says:

    Birth plans, in my opinion, just set you up for disappointment when things inevitably do not go “to plan.” The doctors and nurses in the hospital deliver babies all day, every day. Most of us do not. Shared decision making is an important concept. Being sure that patients are aware of their choices and that they understand the implications is important…but leaving medical decisions up to someone without the experience and context necessary to make those judgement calls is wrong (again, in my opinion). I was told that the choice to have an emergency c-section was “totally up to me”, while the nurse is changing into a surgical gown and pulling out surgical draping…c’mon now…it’s clearly medically necessary, so why not just tell me that? Episiotomy would have been HUGELY helpful in my first birth and saved me from massive tearing, but I had on my birth plan that I didn’t want it. There are some things we can control and plan for…but childbirth is unpredictable. I’d recommend making a birth “wish list” rather than a “plan”. This would be a list of some things you hope for if circumstances are ideal, but that you acknowledge may not be possible. Set your expectations low so you don’t end up feeling angry, resentful, or depressed that your birth experience was somehow ruined. The most important thing is that you and baby are both alive and as healthy as possible at the end of the day. How you get there matters very little.

  98. Kate says:

    I’m so sorry you had such a scare! MAN did I feel this post. I’m a physician (non-OB), and I too felt confused and overwhelmed by all of the advice out there. FWIW, here’s my two cents on random stuff:
    1. My birth plan was “everybody lives”. Seriously. You can make all the plans you want but it can so easily change based on how you/baby are doing. I didn’t want to get too attached to any one type of experience and then end up disappointed.
    2. C-section recovery was not that bad. Huge caveat that everyone heals differently, BUT I was super freaked out going into it because I had heard horror stories about how bad you felt afterwards. It was not nearly as bad as I was prepared for.
    3. Go with the science. Vitamin K, vaccines, etc – all have sound medical science behind them, and the only thing everyone in your delivery room wants is a healthy mom and baby.
    4. Watch the DVD of “the happiest baby on the block”. Awesome swaddle/soothing tips, great to see it demonstrated (instead of just reading about it). Plus, it’s SO much faster than reading the book!
    5. I tried so hard to breastfeed, and it just did. not. work. Looking back, I wished I had transitioned to formula so much earlier, it would have saved a lot of anxiety and a few extra days in the hospital. Most people I know had to at least supplement with formula in the hospital, until their milk came in. For my second daughter, I remember her feeding for an hour and I thought she was all latched and doing well…then the pediatrician came for a check and noticed her mucous membranes were dry (basically her mouth was dry and she wasn’t getting the breastmilk I thought she was) – that was a quick “ok, breastfeeding isn’t working again, formula time!” decision. Disclaimer here is that we weren’t in a national formula shortage, so I had the luxury to be more cavalier about it. But formula is not the devil. Seriously, my kids are 7 and 5 now and healthy, smart, no allergies, etc (not saying it’s because of formula, more that formula won’t scar your kids for life). Fed is best.
    6. Epidurals are amazing. Don’t struggle if you don’t have to.

  99. irmck says:

    I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this!

    The birth plan was really intimidating at first, but then when I thought about it more, it actually was a really great framework to talk with my husband and my mother about what I hoped would happen. I DID have a vision for how I wanted the birth to go, but it was apparently only in my head. Getting your support team on the same page will definitely help you.

    I brought WAY too much to the hospital. I wore their clothes (so I didn’t have to worry about cleaning my own cute stuff), and my feet were too swollen to fit into my Ugg slippers. So socks, toothbrush, baby clothes. You really don’t need much.

    Good luck! We are rooting for you.

  100. J says:

    Apologies if this is reptitive – I’m glad you’ve gotten so many comments, but I don’t have time to take them in right now.

    My primary comment: what is being requested of you with respect to birth plans and homework is unreasonable and not consistent with my experience (in a medium-sized Midwest city). Does your hosptial have a labor/delivery class? If yes, I recommend attending, and that should be enough. My birth plan was for my daughter to successfully leave my body. The end. I knew I didn’t care about music, lack of drugs, lack of c-section, scented candles, etc. I also grew up with an anesthetist father who gave epidurals for a leaving and talked about c-sections at the dinner table.

    It is so weird they’re requesting this of you. I feel like most doctors and nurses turn their noses up at birth plans. Especially from first time mothers who have never been through labor and delivery before.

  101. Rebecca says:

    If you’re breastfeeding (no judgment if you aren’t) and giving birth in a hospital: ask to see the lactation consultant early and often to make sure the latch is good. Breastfeeding isn’t always an easy or natural thing; use the resources available to you before you go home.

    +1 to so much of what has been said already, but especially:
    – Hiring a doula (I took a birthing class, and hired the instructor, but YMMV)
    – Long charging cable in your hospital bag
    – Bring your own pillow (with an obviously-yours pillowcase, to differentiate it from hospital pillows)

    As for a birth plan, I didn’t have one, and yet everything turned out fine. Was it like I expected? No. There was no way to predict that my body would just stop having contractions, which then triggered a bunch of other interventions and ultimately led to a c-section. But I trusted my doula, doctors, and nurses to do what they thought best to bring my baby (who’s nearly 11) into the world safely.

  102. Hh says:

    Whoo boy. First off, it’s very normal to feel tired and overwhelmed at this stage. You’ve also been dealt a rough hand lately with Kyle having Covid and the recent scare with your daughter. If you’re the hugging type, consider this a virtual one.

    Birth plan: had one with baby #1, had a very brief one for baby #2 since he was a necessary, scheduled c section. Definitely needed one with baby #1 since I had an unmedicated birth. IMO if you’re going to have an epidural, just concentrate on what you want for the immediate, post birth portion. What you want to have happen, or not, with your daughter. For us, it was important for me and hubs to have immediate skin to skin, be able to breastfeed/try to immediately, and delayed cord clamping. We consented to vitamin K shot, did not consent to erythromycin ointment since it didn’t seem necessary given the lack of risk of him getting an infection.

    Expecting Better, the book, has a good overview on newborn procedures and that helped guide our choices.

    Doula: ours was invaluable for our first baby. Especially since I had unmedicated labor. I think a good doula who could advocate for you/your family and act as a trusted support person would be helpful even if you have an epidural. Especially if they teach birthing classes.

    It doesn’t sound like you’re hoping for an unmedicated birth, but if you are, I highly recommend the Bradley Method to learn about how to try to do it. It’s probably too late to do all of the classes, but there are workbooks, books, etc that would be helpful. Feel free to email if you have questions.

    Hospital bag: Pinterest was surprisingly helpful. Also, in the book, Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, they go over what to pack. The biggies for me: extra long charging cord, comfy nursing friendly pajamas, slip on shoes, snacks for partner, footie pajamas for baby’s ride home, and knowledge of how to install a car seat and load baby. With our first, I brought reading material and found out fast that I didn’t need it.

  103. Becky says:

    This hit me in the gut. I’m so sorry for all the things and so happy you reached out. Tons of excellent advice here!
    1. Doulas are expensive but worth it. Make sure the person is someone you’ll want around during the toughest moments of your life. Small but annoying personality traits get magnified in high stress situations.
    2. If you don’t do a full birth plan (I didn’t), consider how you want deal with pain relief options. That’s a decision you’ll be asked to make in the moment (epidural or not) and it’s helpful to have thought about it beforehand
    3. Packing list- yes to charger with long cord! I thought it was helpful to look at other people’s and cherry pick what was relevant for me. Is there a place those of us who saved our lists could send them to you?

  104. WhitNEY says:

    AS A WOMAN WITH NO KIDS AND NO DESIRE FOR THEM, MY ADVICE MAY NOT BE HELPFUL. BUT I WOULD SEE IF YOU COULD SET SOME BOUNDARIES AROUND WHAT YOU WILL WORRY ABOUT NOW AND WHAT YOU WON’T. THERE’S A MAGICAL MOMENT BEFORE YOU GO ON VACATION FROM WORK WHERE WE ARE ALL SUPER GOOD AT SETTING BOUNDARIES AROUND WHAT WILL AND WON’T BE DONE BEFORE WE LEAVE. THIS EMAIL CAN HAPPEN, THIS PRESENTATION CANNOT. WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN BEFORE SHE COMES AND WHAT CAN HONESTLY WAIT?

  105. TREE says:

    6 weeks! Getting so close 🙂

    Seconding what everyone here is saying – you don’t need a birth plan unless you have things you want to ensure are done/avoided. I was given a very basic script from my hospital that I filled out because I felt I had to (societal pressure, not because of my providers), but I never gave it to the providers once I was in L&D Triage because my one requirement besides cord clamping (that I wanted to be able to move around) was the exact opposite of what I ended up wanting to do once the real thing started. The nurses asked me every so often if I needed anything and asked me about preferences for cord clamping, episiotomy, etc. in person for my chart anyways.

    Also – not gonna lie – I was so tired after the 18 hours from admission to laying down in my recovery room that I slept in my hospital gown. I had one blood draw and one shot given within the first few hours in my recovery room, so I’d say don’t wear long sleeves. In the morning (I gave birth in the 5pm hour, so this was the next day), I put my husband’s sweatshirt that I had stolen a month before on over my robe and mesh underwear and socks. I didn’t put on my own clothes till I had a chance to shower!

    I also want to say that I flew blind for my pregnancy, mostly on purpose. My son popped out almost 4 months ago. I wanted to experience my pregnancy and birthing process for what it was without others painting the picture for me. I think that allowed me to have a pretty fearless birth experience. I was lucky to have found providers at my University Hospital, both students, faculty, and staff) that were pregnant person friendly and very easy going with a 33 year old first time mom. I know that isn’t everyone’s experience.

    That being said, I did skim one or two “pregnancy” books, but I found that the snarky, “your life is over” attitude of them didn’t sit well with me, especially because it took me a long, long time to even be willing to try to get pregnant because of that general attitude. Skip the “pregnancy” books. The one book I would recommend is Heading Home With Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality – it’s kind of a baby manual and I’ve consulted it a few times when things have arisen.

    • TREE says:

      One other thing, I put my phone in my personal items bag with the stuff I wore in to Triage and dint’ take it out until I was in recovery. I didn’t miss that thing one bit and I let my husband do the communicating with only immediate family and close friends. I found that to be the best decision for myself – it let me stay as present as possible.

  106. Diane says:

    This is only regarding the birth plan, I don’t have any experience with high-risk late term issues. My POV, I had my first in July 2018 at almost 36. I am an attorney and tend to be very logic-oriented, non-sentimental, and did not have strong feelings about a birth experience (probably epidural, preferably no episiotomy were my only strong preferences).

    Nonetheless, in the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy and the first couple of weeks after my daughter was born, hormones made me worry about a lot of things in the moment (to the point of tears, which is wildly out of character for me) that I previously had not been concerned with and ultimately did not matter (being induced, supplementing with formula while I got the hang of breastfeeding). Though people make a big deal out of delivery day, it is only one day out of thousands with your child. The day I ripped open my vagina and peed all over the floor of the hospital is not one I think about very often. My great memories with my newborn are after she was born and when my family visited.

    I think a birth plan is misleading, given the sheer number of variables, and it can set women up to be disappointed or feel like a failure if their labor and delivery does not follow a course compatible with the “plan.” You can’t control or predict what your body or baby will do, and there aren’t yes or no answers to any of the questions that come up. The decisions you have control over can be made in the moment when you know how you feel, whatever you decide will only matter for a coouple of hours, and everything will probably be okay no matter the choice you make. Don’t let an unrealistic birth plan ruin the day.

    Also, I highly recommend bringing your own delivery gown (amazon) that has easy access for breastfeeding (if you choose) and for monitors, etc. Much better than the hospital gowns.

    • Diane says:

      I forgot to add that after reading tons of articles and blogs on the internet on America’s corporate baby industry in the hormonal weeks leading up to delivery, I showed up at the hospital for my induction (which I grossly overanalyzed) skeptical, defensive, and steeled to have to advocate for myself and fight a horrible system. I didn’t experience that at all. All the nurses were nice and experienced, asked me what I wanted, encouraged me to eat and drink, encouraged walking around and different labor positions, and got me a geriatric raised toilet seat when I couldn’t squat low enough to sit. And despite my preconceived idea that I didn’t need cervical checks, there was a new nurse in training shadowing the regular nurse and I got to help a young woman get experience in her career, which outweighed my aversion to tons of cervical checks.

  107. Erin says:

    I just want to say that becoming a parent during a pandemic is f!ing hard. Remember that expectations of mothers were unreasonable before COVID began, and that we internalize many of them despite our best efforts. My suggestion is to give yourself a pass-you’re doing something really hard during a really hard time, and it’s ok for it to not feel pretty. It’s ok to be grateful for your daughter and simultaneously filled with rage about some of the particulars. I suggest that you prioritize yourself and your needs; if you don’t want to have a birth plan, don’t have one! I made a strategic decision not to in July 2020. I chose to trust my doctors and accept choices about the birth of my son as they came into view rather than go in with judgements about what was best. I too was a “geriatric”(lovely to see that in my chart) first-time mom, one who has struggled with anxiety and depression, and I felt like setting expectations of myself was a path towards shame and disappointment. Instead, I deputized my husband to be my advocate, especially if I became scared or tired. Everything was fine- and it will be for you too. You are meant to be this little girl’s mother, and you will get through anything that comes your way. Believe the wisdom of readers like me who have been on your side for over a decade- we see you, we see how you handle challenges with bravery and grace, and we KNOW you’ve got this. Lots of love to you, Kyle, and your baby girl.

  108. Alisha says:

    I had a very high risk pregnancy. I didn’t have a birth plan because it was too stressful to make one not knowing if I would have to throw it out the window. I knew I wanted to have a vaginal birth if possible and otherwise didn’t care. I ended up getting an epidural and had a few other interventions but had a vaginal birth after 36 hours in labor. Know that any intervention the medical staff should inform you what’s happening, any risks and they can help talk you through making the decision

    Hospital bag- know they will have everything you need at the hospital. It may not be your preferred option but it will be there. What I used that I packed- bathrobe, slipper socks, extra long charging cord, pumping bra, newborn size bottle nipples, pillow and blanket for my partner. Leave room in your bag to bring home a bunch of supplies

    As far as advocacy, I decided what were my absolutes and what I was ok with just going with the flow. If something wasn’t important to me I let the medical staff know I didn’t care and whatever the best option for the moment was fine. With a high risk pregnancy my brain was already so preoccupied I just could not take in every detail. My doctor and the staff understood

  109. AnabEl says:

    With 137 comments already I will keep this super brief. Have a super simple idea of what you would like for a birthing plan, epidural, no-epidural, etc. And then know it will all be turned on it’s head anyway since there are two people in the birth process. You AND your baby.

    Re the hospital bag: pack travel size luxurious bath products for your post labor shower. (I went with Le Labo) You won’t regret it.

  110. Allison says:

    Wow look at all these responses! Some suggestions-

    1. If your hospital offers a baby class, take it. You will learn alot about what to expect at that hospital, and it will help you with a birth plan
    2. I had a birth plan, I gave it to the first nurse but labor is so long, I went through a shift change and the plan wasn’t passed along, and anyway the clinicians in the room at delivery aren’t always the same as the ones there at labor. (In short, I didn’t find that a written birth plan mattered, better to know if there is something that matters alot to you that is not standard for the hospital, repeat it verbally to every nurse that comes in your room.)
    3. Doula’s are great
    4. When clinicians talk down to you, strongly recommend verbalizing that they are not using a patient centered approach and you expect to be respected. Everyone’s burnt out, but advocate for yourself!! Not to scare you, but I almost died because a nurse did not take me seriously when I was hemorrhaging. Nurse wants you to do some research? Great. They need to write down what questions they need you to answer, and give you resources for informing your decision, and a path to report your decision back to the care team with the expectation that they action on them.
    5. Get in the groove of assigning stuff to Kyle. Birth’s just the beginning. I regularly tell my husband we have X, Y, Z things to do for our son, I’d like you to do Y and Z. Yes that means I have more mental load. It is what it is.
    6. Don’t forget newborn clothes and nipple cream in your hospital bag.

    YOU’LL BE GREAT!

  111. Kate says:

    As others have mentioned, I’m so sorry to hear you are being put in a position that makes you feel even more anxious about what is already an scary thing (I’m still in awe of our bodies!). I’ve had 2 girls and was blessed with two mostly average pregnancies and great births, had mine been more complicated I may have other advice to offer (doulas etc), I was at a good hospital with a doctor who I trusted, so I allowed the medical team to do their thing. My birth plan was to have a healthy baby. I did not take any classes (it only would have made me anxious and scared), I did basic reading about how to care for a new born (Happiest Baby on the Block is great). If my doctor asked a question I didn’t know the answer to I asked his opinion and he provided me with his opinion backed by facts. I went into the hospital with my husband and was met with wonderful nurses who told me what I needed to do. Honestly they were the ones who do everything! When they left us in the room with my first I actually was like umm ok your leaving? What do we do?! I learned so much from the nurses and left feeling more capable. It sounds like perhaps your PA at least isn’t a great fit, but wishing you the best!

    Regarding the nursery, as others have mentioned you really don’t need much yet! Car seat, a place to sleep, diapers, wipes, and clothes! I highly recommend little z’s or another sleep program when it comes to sleep training (around 3 months) we didn’t do this with our first because she was a good overnight sleeper as a baby but we did for our 2nd and it has been so much better! My husband was so skeptical too but now he tells everyone it was the best thing we ever did.

  112. Y says:

    You have so much solid advice on here. I came on to add a few things:

    1. Get a night nurse. I cannot stress this enough. A night nurse helps with feeding the baby at night while you get precious sleep for healing. They can help you with breast feeding as well. You think you know what it is to be stressed out and exhausted, but trust me, NOTHING compares to the brutal first 2 months with a newborn. Night nurses can be quite expensive, I had one for 2 days/week for the first 2 months and is was so worth it. It’s a good idea to start looking for one now because you want her lined up before giving birth.

    2. Make sure you and the doula are on the same page. Some doulas have strong philosophies against using drugs and epidurals and towards natural birth and breast feeding. I have heard some bad doula stories where they try to push their own agendas. I loved my doula, but I was very clear that my birth plan was simple: I wanted all the drugs, I trusted my doctor’s advice, and even though I preferred breast feeding, that fed is best.

    3. Stop doing all the things. Take the bed rest. Ease back at work. If Crate and Barrel is delayed, so be it. Put the whole world on on “pause.” It will not fall apart. I wish I had taken this advice myself. Before and after my first was born, I tried to do everything. I didn’t realize that was my way of dealing with my anxiety and just made things much worse, and I ended up with bad postpartum depression. With my second, I made the world stop. I breathed. I kept things simple. Once she was born, I laid in bed all day with her on my chest for weeks. It was a much happier postpartum experience. Nothing fell apart, including me.

    4. No one talks about this, but the first postpartum poop is terrible if you had an epidural or c section. After delivery the hospital will give you Colace. It’s not enough. Pack some milk of magnesia in your hospital bag. Take it every day. Thank me later.

  113. Maya says:

    Lots of great advice here! Generally, there is way too much focus on birth / your birth plan (which will likely not go according to plan – so why make one?) and not enough on actually caring for baby. Yes, giving birth is a once (or twice) in a lifetime event, but the doctors and nurses care for birthing patients every single day! Please advocate for yourself, but the professionals will (usually) know what they are doing. That being said, there is no reason to fear medical intervention for you or baby. You wouldn’t have a dental procedure without numbing, so what’s wrong with an epidural? I had 2 scheduled C-sections and they were wonderful – quick recovery and no other issues.
    For the hospital, most have mentioned the must haves (charging cord, snacks, comfy clothes, slippers, Chapstick, hairbands) + an outfit for baby. So much influencer pressure to have a little sign or matching swaddle and robe!
    Once you get home, Amazon Prime anything you/baby need! We got a Snoo for our second, which was awesome. You still might be able to order or rent one.

  114. Emily says:

    You’ve gotten a ton of good advice for labor. I would highly highly highly recommend finding a therapist to discuss any post partum anxiety, etc. I felt really isolated with my feelings after my first birth. With my seond, I got a therapist and she completely helped me normalize my feelings and it made a world of difference. I don’t say all of this to scare you, but to let you know that its totally ok/normal if you’re not in total bliss after giving birth. I found that all the drs are completely focused on maternal physical health and the baby’s health, while the mother gets lost in the mix.I really prioritized my mental health with my second baby and everyone in the family was better off for it.

    • AJT says:

      Second this! I had my first baby March 2020. I found a therapist in August 2020 and wish I had started talking to someone sooner. I had PPA, which I self-identified, because unfortunately the screeners at my OB and pediatrician focused on PPD, not PPA, and in the early months of the pandemic, no one asked any follow-up questions when I answered honestly that I was feeling very worried and stressed about COVID, etc.

  115. Jules says:

    Sending hugs! You’re almost there. COVID thrown in the mix just makes everything harder and more stressful. I didn’t read all of the responses but here’s my advice:
    1. Don’t worry about the nursery. The baby is most likely going to be sleeping in your room for a few months anyway. I think I got the final touches done for my baby nursery when the baby was around 3-6 months old. This was and is fine. The baby has a few things it will actually “need” (carseat, newborn diapers, wipes, a bassinet / somewhere to sleep, some clothes and maybe a swaddle and pacifiers) the rest is just extra.
    2. For ease of mind on feeding, get a few newborn bottles and a breastpump. Ask for some formula samples at the hospital. Then you will have your options open to see how it goes in the first weeks.
    3. That is an annoying comment from the PA and I am annoyed for you. It should not be your job to do “research” it is their job to give medical advice.
    4. I printed out a short birthplan for my first birth and used it NOT AT ALL. My second birth birthplan was “See how it goes and wait to see if I want an epidural but I’ll probably want to get one.” Also in my ideal “birthplan” was to do skin to skin after birth if possible — my doctor was kind of like “yeah this is what we do by default whenever possible, as hospital policy”. Basically, I followed the lead of the labor and delivery nurses who were amazing angels and have guided women and their partners through this thousands of times. I followed doctors advice on the medical decisions. I understand the appeal of a doula but did not get one and that worked for me, with the support of the nurses and my husband. The nurses suggested laboring positions, got me a yoga ball, advocated for me when my epidural wasn’t working, etc. All this to say please don’t worry about a birthplan.
    5. For my second birth my water broke and doctor wanted to induce right when I got to the hospital. I asked to wait to see if my contractions picked up on their own without induction, and they did. I guess that was the one thing I did somewhat “against” the doctor’s first suggestion – but this was more of a discussion about the options. I think my advice would be that during labor (assuming it is not an emergency situation) it’s always ok to ask – “what are the options?” “what happens / what are the downsides if we wait (to do whatever is being suggested)?” – and do not feel bad about asking questions ever, and do not ever feel bad about doing what you feel most comfortable with.
    6. Hospital bag — on the topic of my water break for the second birth, I packed my hospital bag in about 30 minutes with a towel between my legs (pregnancy is so glamorous). I’d suggest – iphone + charger, laptop + charger, some comfy clothes – sweatpants, robes, a few nursing bras, something you can wear to go home), basic toiletries (deodorant, face wash, toothbrush / paste, moisturizer, shampoo and conditioner, hairbrush), a 1-2 newborn outfits for baby.

  116. Traci says:

    Try your best not to go in with expectations of how things will go. You will find out quickly that babies do what the heck they want and don’t give a damn about your plans. My fabulous non medicated birth plan flew right out the window by a sunny side up baby that refused to come out; blood pressure that refused to come down and just general nonsense. One c section later and an extremely hard time breast feeding led to me having a complete breakdown. Try to keep the mindset that whatever happens is ok, as long as you and baby come out healthy. I ‘m not going to sugar coat it- it was very hard, but I got thorough it and you will too. P.S. the baby in this story just graduated college with honors, so it all worked out…lol.

  117. C says:

    Another geriatric lawyer mom here! I echo much of the advice that has been offered. Have a loose birth plan – epidural and interventions, yes or no? Know, however, and accept that you may not have a choice/it may not go the way you have planned. I knew I wanted the epidural, but thought I’d wait a bit. Hah! My daughter was late (she was born at 42.5 weeks) and was sunny side up (her back was on my back) during much of my very long labor (I went in Saturday night and gave birth on Monday morning). THAT WAS NOT FUN LABOR, and I don’t know how I would have survived without the epidural. This is not meant to scare you (or any new mom about to give birth); just that things may change or go sideways, and adapting is key as your labor progresses.

    If you end up needing pitocin, strongly consider getting the epidural. Pitocin contractions are awful. Ultimately, I had to get it because my labor was not progressing and my water had broken.

    Remember that the female body is amazing!!! I pushed for four hours, and did not think that I could do it anymore. Just when I was about to tap out and ask for a c-section, I was able to push my daughter out. It was the strangest, most amazing feeling of pure joy, relief, and release.

    Labor is MESSY. There is lots of blood and fluid and, as someone else mentioned, maybe poop (pushing during labor uses the same muscle as pooping). The L&D nurses and doctors do not bat an eye, and someone helps clean up quickly. Also, I gave up on trying to remain modest pretty quickly. By the end, everyone in the room had seen everything. Other than the doctor and nurses, only my husband was in the room with me.

    After labor is messy. Every woman is different, but I bled for two weeks straight. It also took about a week or two for the swelling in my legs and feet to go away. Drinking water helps tremendously with the swelling.

    Hospital gear: car seat is the most important thing; they will not let you leave the hospital with the baby without one. One robe, dark colored (my SIL who is a three-time mom made my husband return a cream-colored robe he had bought for me). Slippers. Something for you to go home in (loose dress or pants), including your bigger shoes. A long phone charger. Maybe minimal makeup bag (I brought mine and never put on any makeup). An outfit for the baby, preferably something that’s not fussy to get on and off, as diapers need to be changed frequently.

    Nursery: my daughter slept in a Halo bassinette next to me for the first six months. For me, the nursery was superfluous until my daughter was about six months old. All that I used was the Halo, a changing table stocked with diapers, wipes, and butt paste, and a rocking chair. Turns out I did not need an Instagram-worthy nursery because my baby cared only about being fed, dry, and safe. My daughter hated the swing, the rock n’ play (now banned), or any rocker, for that matter. Your baby will quickly let you know what she does and does not like.

    It seems overwhelming, and it is because it is new and daunting. But you will get the hang of it; you will be the mother that your baby needs. Being a mother is amazing and hard and there is nothing else like it. My best wishes to you for a smooth, fast, and easy labor and delivery!!!

  118. Carrie says:

    Day 3-4 was always hard for me feeding wise so by kid 2&3 I stayed at the hospital longer (also am better at advocating for myself- vocal about feeding being hard before and wanted to monitor). My nurses at the hospital were amazing and that helped so much. Also a long chat with husband about advocating for me helped my peace of mind, again by kid 2&3 he knew what that meant better but it helped me to talk before hand. Best wishes!!

  119. Sara says:

    Birth plans are meant to be a general outline of what you want. Don’t overthink it because don’t actually need one. For my first I thought I’d have a vaginal but medicated birth but I needed an emergency C-section after I was diagnosed with HELLP and preeclampsia while I was in labor. Make sure your husband knows your preferences but it can all change in a moment. The only thing that matters is that you and your baby come out the other end alive and healthy.

  120. Megan says:

    Oh gosh, Abra, that’s a lot. How could you not be exhausted with all of the things on your plate? You are doing the best you can, and whoever tells you it isn’t good enough can take a hike. Fellow lawyer here (private practice) and mom to two girls, 8 and 12. My best advice would be to shut as much of the noise out as possible, trust yourself, and outsource what you can. Pregnancy is exhausting, and so is parenting a newborn. If there is any way to give yourself a break before the baby is born, do it. I worked up to the day before going into labor with both girls, and I wish I hadn’t. Unless you’re dealing with Fortune 500 clients in your practice (in which case you likely have a team to lean on), I’ve found that many clients understand that big life events will sometimes put us out of commission. At the beginning of my practice (I was a five-year lawyer when I had my first daughter), I didn’t think I could let clients see or be affected by the demands motherhood placed on me. Surprisingly, over the last 12 years, motherhood has become something that I connect with many of my clients (male and female) over. Be honest with yourself and your clients about what you are capable of at this time. If you have the room financially, and the support at your firm (that’s another story), to step back a bit before the birth, I suggest doing it. Thinking of you and Kyle and wishing you the best!

  121. Jules says:

    My baby never moved so I had to go to the hospital twice a week for NST tests just to make sure baby was still alive for about 4 weeks till week 39. So I definitely understand the anxiety going through the roof! (luckily it all turned out fine)

    I had a birth plan but that literally went out the window and none of it mattered. I followed the advice of the doctors and nurses and trusted their best judgement. I was ambivalent about epidurals. I wasn’t for them nor against them. But as soon as the contractions got intense, I asked the nurse “how much longer will I be in labor?” She said it could be 1 hour or 24 hours, no one knows. At that time I begged for the epidural and boy did that make a difference!

    My nursery was NO WHERE near finished when the baby came, but that’s OK because for the first couple of months, your baby is going to be sleeping next to your bed in your bedroom (I used a bassinet), and the baby most likely will be attached to your body unless it’s napping (I used the bassinet, not the crib)

    In fact we were so unprepared my husband dropped me off at the hospital, then went home to put the bassinet together, wash the bassinet sheets, and bring some of the baby clothes to the hospital! LOL. It all worked out OK.

    I learned that infants need very little to be happy. Food, Momma and Dadda. Warmth. A safe sleeping space. All the other stuff is marketing. I figured…. if cavemen could keep infants alive, I had a pretty decent advantage!

    (Depending on your needs, you may also like to already have a breast pump and bottle(s) to feed the baby. While I exclusively breastfed my baby, I exclusively used the pump to feed breastmilk before my baby and I could figure out latching)

    In terms of hospital bag to pack, I ended up using almost NONE of what I packed. The only things I ended up using were: Extra blankets for my husband to sleep in the room with me (It was COLD! the hospital gave me blankets but not him), toiletries (toothbrush, face wash, shampoo, deodorant, etc), phone chargers, and some snacks, and one outfit for baby and me to go home in.

    Me and baby just wore the onesies/gown and blankets the hospital provided, it was comfortable enough for me.

    Just make sure your infant car seat is properly secured to your car a few weeks before the due date. My baby was about a week early so I was glad the car seat was already installed.

    Hoping for a smooth and uneventful delivery!

  122. Jules says:

    Regarding books/classes etc – I read precisely zero books and zero classes before having the baby. It was the height of COVID so most of the classes were cancelled anyway.
    What I did instead was find hospital-run labor and delivery classes on YouTube. I also found some hospital YT channels where they had nurses and doctors go through the basics of how to hold a baby, change a diaper, feed the baby, etc.

    I found that to be helpful, accurate, and stayed away from all the influencers and mommy-daddy-blogger type content.

    I felt this gave me the necessary information without the overwhelm or comparisonitis. And to me, visually watching HOW to do these things made more sense than reading about these things.

    The only book my husband read was about teaching the baby sign language.
    We started in earnest maybe when he was 4-6 months old, and we’re glad to have done so, since the baby was able to communicate with us what he wanted. We felt like this reduced a lot of crying because he was able to tell us what he needed. Just super simple things – mama, dada, water, eat, help, and all-done.

  123. Meredith says:

    I just delivered our first child (a girl) 3 weeks ago – The one thing that our hospital birthing classes recommended that got me through labor and delivery was asking “what are the risks?” whenever I was presented with a decision. It was so helpful to cut through the ‘this is a common procedure/approach, but we have to ask/tell you what we want to do’ and the less common/routine decisions the medical staff was leaving up to my husband and me.

    Also, couldn’t reiterate the value of our doula more. I had a planned epidural and wasn’t sure how valuable her support would be, but it gave such peace of mind and direction for my husband and mother who were supporting me. We ended up spinning the baby, working through low and high blood pressure, and it was all much more calming with our doula helping to translate what the nurses and doctors were saying and calming our nerves throughout the process.

  124. ESK says:

    My birth advice is 20 years old, but….start eating a lot of watermelon, dried apricots, cantelope shortly before your delivery date and keep going. So you don’t have to strain to go #2. My husband brought some to the hospital, I was there 3 days with my first baby.

    Because, in my day, you couldn’t go home from the hospital unless you left something tangible in the toilet, and the last thing you wanted was to be pushing anything else in that area. Then, once you are home, you don’t want to be straining and end up having to sit on a donut.

    For home, after the birth, get the massive overnight/extra long/wings diapers, I needed them for about a week until it tapered off.

    I didn’t have a birth plan — 20 years ago, military hospital, you just gave birth and couldn’t leave without the baby in a car seat. I’m sure it’s much better now.

  125. Carissa says:

    All of these things above! mostly, I’m just so sorry you’re going through this. I can’t put it into words, but there is something about engaging with the healthcare system as a pregnant woman that…made me feel infantile. It’s awful.

    I would only add that: if you are someone (like me) that can feel better/calmer if I do one thing on the do to list, pack your hospital bag. Tonight. It’s a small thing, but it’s a small thing that you can control. For me, that mental piece of going into a brave new world with “okay, I can’t control when or how this baby is going to come, but I can control this” helps a lot. Throw into that bag something that feels nice–a soft robe, fuzzy socks, the NICE hand lotion.

    If you have the energy for it, same thing: make yourself a freezer meal or two (I like this list: https://pinchofyum.com/freezer-meals#oven-recipes). Or stock up on some snacks. It’s a small thing that you can do with purpose to give yourself some control and structure going into a time when both of those things will feel completely foreign.

    and if that all feels too, too overwhelming, go the other direction with that control/purpose thing as a stress reliever: Amazon prime exists. Friends exist. Family exists. And think through what that looks like for different scenarios: “omg, I’m going to run out of diapers! Okay, I can…notice I’m running low, place an order, choose the fastest shipping, ask my husband to run to the store, etc.” Do that for a few of the non-nightmare scenarios to walk yourself through them.

    My second, for instance, came early, and we almost didn’t have childcare for our first. We went down our whole list of people and they all said no (!!!!). Our closest family lives 8 hours away, so we needed someone to stay with him just until family got here. I ended up asking a dear friend (who was also very pregnant). She was the last person I would have asked, given the circumstances. Know what? She said yes without batting an eye; just asked “I’m bringing dinner. Does Christian like pepperoni on his pizza or cheese?” It really reminded me of that principle that it WILL all work out!

  126. Jess says:

    You poor thing. ALL of this sounds incredibly stressful at a time when you need anything but added stress. My pregnancy and parenting advice is always: take everyone’s advice with a grain of salt, but since you asked I will share my thoughts and experiences and I hope some of it is helpful to you!

    1. I didn’t have a birth plan. I took one look at the questions and thought it all seemed too stressful. Also, who was I to say that my James Taylor wouldn’t come on when I needed a push of energy, or AC/DC when I needed to calm down and breathe?? To each their own, but I didn’t see any need for this and just made sure everyone on the team knew I wanted an epidural and a vaginal birth but with the major caveat that this was all only if possible and basically, please do whatever is best for the baby.
    2. That being said, you are a mom and you will likely be hyper-focused on what is best for the baby. That’s a good thing! But I was a little shocked by how, as soon as the baby was born, all focus from the medical staff turned to the baby and there was significantly less focus on me. Intense focus on a newborn baby is also a good thing! But make sure your husband advocates like hell for you. My husband was the one making sure I was fed enough, that I was well taken care of, that the very unkind night nurse from the first night was replaced by a different nurse, etc. It really helped to basically outsource care of myself to him so I could focus on everything that was going on with me physically, learning to breastfeed, etc.
    3. As far as packing goes, I didn’t use much when I was in the hospital. Hospitals are inherently kind of icky, so I didn’t really want to wear anything nice, and I pretty much wore the nightgowns and comfy nonslip socks they gave me the entire time. I made sure to bring a lot of chapstick, a couple of long charging cords because you’re going to do a lot of picture taking and texting family and friends, and a comfy robe – I ordered a cheap one off of Amazon in case it got ruined and it was great.
    4. If anyone is doing anything that seems wrong to you, for you or for your daughter, speak up. Most hospital administrators want you to be VERY happy, and we had to ask to not have one nurse back because I was almost in tears at 1am after giving birth to my daughter and she expected me to just….know how to breastfeed? I will tell you that the other maternity nurses were ANGELS ON EARTH. They were so kind, understanding, and made me feel so comfortable which is amazing when you’re being poked, prodded, and stripped half naked constantly.

    You’ve got this! Pretty soon your phone storage will be entirely taken up with pictures of your daughter doing mundane things like sleeping or burping, because nothing will be more amazing to you. Good luck and enjoy meeting your daughter!!

  127. LeighAnne says:

    Plenty of advice here for Abra, but I’d like to give some advice to Kyle!
    From now until one month after the birth, Abra’s well-being is your sole priority. Not the baby, not extended family, not work. Abra. This means doing anything you can to support her well-being even if at your expense or that of others. Pushy mother-in-law? Handle as Abra’s zealous advocate even if you incur MIL’s wrath. Abra says she’ll wash the bottles? No, you wash them, Kyle — and before she sees them in the sink.
    This is the time to anticipate her needs not to simply do what she asks. Watch closely and you’ll see what she needs as you go. And here are specific examples that apply to nearly every mama: (1) It is your responsibility that Abra gets 5 hours total of sleep in every 24 hour cycle. (2) Empty the diaper pail every other day even if it’s not full. (3) Ensure she is always at a comfortable temperature, and that her phone is always at least 50% charged.
    Thank you for listening Kyle! You’re going to be a great dad.

  128. Lindsay says:

    I’m sorry to hear. It’s so tough to be a mother (or even human) nowadays with the limited real support workplaces and society provide. I have a now 1.5 and 3.5 year old, both through fertility treatments. One emergency C section, another scheduled. Let me just say every moment is different for everyone else. A couple pieces of advice I wish I knew:
    1. You will figure it out. Whatever “it” is… you will figure it out. And with a baby sleeping all the time, pumping/feeding, you’ll have plenty of time for googling answers. More than anything, your gut will tell you what to do when it’s really important. No amount of research can really prepare you.
    2. For a birth plan- know your minimum requirements. My two were “all the drugs” and “any intervention medically necessary”. I knew I wanted to be as comfortable as I could during labor and glad I didn’t try to be a hero. Use meds where they can help and trust your doctor’s medical advice. That meant I had to have a C-section which I had never planned, but again- no need to be a hero. You’ve grown a human being- you already are one.
    3. Don’t fret about a nursery. All a baby really needs is a bassinet, bottles/formula/pump to feed them, easily changeable clothes, and love. We rarely stepped foot in the nursery until they were 6 mo and transitioned. And we didn’t touch 1/2 the gadgets we bought.
    4. Accept help. Now, after. If someone’s willing to drop off food, do dishes, hold the baby, let them. You’ll be surprised how quickly the offers stop. Use any chance you have to take a shower, nap, or just zone out.
    5. Anyone who is not willing to help- say bye. You’ll be healing, adjusting as a family, and learning what kind of parent you want to be. It’s not your job to let others come see your baby. If it’s all about them, I said no thanks. But see #4.
    Regardless, it’s clear you and Kyle are going to be amazing parents. Give each other and yourselves grace. It’s a tough time, but full of love. Your life transforms overnight. You’ll figure it out together. Oh, but take lots of videos…. those baby giggles and squeals are THE BEST and they change SO FAST.

  129. Katherine says:

    It looks like there’s a lot of great advice in these comments. I think that what might be missing, and should be part of the conversation, is perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (a broad term that includes postpartum depression). They are shockingly common, and can be considered the single most common complication of childbirth. There should be no shame or stigma, as PMADs are no one’s fault and don’t mean anything about you as a mother. They can arise during pregnancy, not just postpartum. Risk factors include past history of depression, as well as having used fertility treatments. I encourage you, or anyone else this may be relevant for, to get help so you don’t need to suffer. Untreated, this can impact your relationship with your baby. There are medications that are considered safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and counseling is effective. Advocate for yourself or get a loved one to advocate for you. A respected source is Postpartum Support International: https://www.postpartum.net/learn-more/
    Related, I’ve also read that difficulty with breastfeeding is also a risk factor for PMADs. Having had and breastfed two kids, my advice (and the advice of my doula), is to consider the hospital lactation support as the bare minimum, and probably nowhere near enough support. Your health plan may offer lactation support after your hospital discharge, but working within that system means you often can’t get an appointment as soon as you need it, or you may be struggling with referrals and preapprovals. Paying out of pocket for a private lactation consultant is money very well spent. Roughly this is $150. There are even lactation consultants that will come to your house, who are worth their weight in gold! Anyway, get the help you need and get it early if you can.

  130. Bethany Samuel says:

    It really depends on what you want. I did natural births and loved laboring in a tub. Also don’t push on your back if you can help it! And this may seem gross, but take the stool softener asap after birth. That first poop is no joke. Don’t feel bad about handing off the baby so you can sleep/eat/shower etc.

  131. Kim says:

    Oh dear, you are in the thick of it now. Where to start.

    1. My doctor started my first pregnancy with the advice to get a copy of “What to Expect…” and to come to her with questions after looking it up first. I know people hate that book, but I feel you about being told to do your homework. I also swear by Emily Oster (start with Instagram and her newsletter if the book feels overwhelming now).

    If you have the option to join a birthing and early parenting class, DO IT. You don’t know which part will feel useful. I really appreciated having a group of people to compare notes with and hang out with while my first baby was small. It should be a safe space to ask stupid questions and if it is put on by your local health authority as mine was, it may even give you specific info about local hospital accommodations.

    2. For your hospital bag, no one seems to use the same things and it depends on how your birth goes. If you give birth late at night, you will want snacks as you may not have eaten anything in hours. Pack the good stuff. I bled all over my hospital shoes, so those were toast. Stockpile the mesh underwear. Some hospitals are weird about how much of your own supplies you need to bring. Have some in the bag, but use as much as you can from the hospital’s supplies. Bring maternity AND nursing friendly change of clothes and pjs, but understand that if you have a prolonged stay with an IV, you may just stay in a gown (I did). I brought my own pillow and stand by that choice. Make friends and family bring you more things if you need them. I had to figure out how to get a large bag of stuff from my L&D room to my recovery room after a traumatic birth and was not thrilled with a big bag. The things you want or need after a vaginal birth may be different from a cesarean. I brought my L&D nurses homemade cookies. I don’t know if they actually ate them. But I was choked that I left my share of the batch at home.

    3. A birth plan is a good starting point for what you think that you want or think is important to you. It likely will change as the experience progresses. Know your priorities. Know your medical history, vulnerabilities. Ask when options stop being options (you would be surprised how quickly an epidural is no longer an option if your labour progresses quickly, anesthesiologists will tend to emergency cesareans first and if you or your child are not in distress, you may have to wait. You can sometimes plan induction steps until after they have seen you). Make sure you educate your support person on these things too to assist you advocating for what you want.

    Just know that most of my birth plan was thrown out the window. My second birth looked a lot different than my first and it still didn’t go the way I had hoped. I thought I wanted to hold off on the pain meds as long as possible. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone now. I had lots of anxiety about another induction. Still had to happen, but it was definitely easier with pain intervention earlier than trying to tough it out with a shower and laughing gas. If medical professionals start congregating in your room instead of continuing on their rounds, it is likely time to get flexible.

  132. Anna says:

    First time mom and four weeks behind you, so basically, I know nothing. First, I commiserate on the movement thing. I had a day of zero movement at 26 weeks, which I know is early and I have an anterior placenta which muffles things a bit, but I usually feel at least a twinge. I’m so lucky my doctor fit me in right before closing and did an ultrasound. Everything was fine, and I’m so grateful, she didn’t make me feel like an idiot for panicking.

    Have you taken a birth class yet? My doctor said pretty much all the other classes are things you can learn as you go, but having an idea of what labor is going to be like is really helpful. My approach to the birthplan is kind of my approach to having a baby generally – focus on the priorities and everything else is just gravy. There are a few things I know I want (e.g. skin-to-skin with myself or partner), but a lot of the other stuff either I don’t care about or will totally depend on the circumstances. I mean, sure, I’d like to avoid a c-section, but if it’s what has to happen, it has to happen. And I’d like to be able to walk and move around as much as possible, but I have no idea what labor pain is like, so if I want an epidural, that’s fine. I think it’s kind of nuts to write a plan for a situation that is nothing like you’ve experienced before.

    I saw someone mention once that if you feel pressured to do something that doesn’t feel right during labor, you should ask what happens if you wait or do nothing? That kind of stuck with me and made me feel much more comfortable with the different possibilities during labor.

  133. Anon says:

    +1 for the doula. I had my second kid in March 2020. When I arrived the hospital told me I could only have one support person. I immediately picked the doula (happily husband was let in later- maybe they felt badly?) but I knew doula would much more helpful than the husband after a rough first delivery. And he agreed.

  134. Mom says:

    Three births, first 2 came early so hadn’t even made it past the first prenatal class much less had a birth plan. Last one was so late I had to be induced. I think as long as you have general idea of what you want then it is fine, and even if you don’t it is fine. Most people I know never got to enact their birth plans due timing, random circumstance, or medical reasons. Don’t stress over planning too much.

  135. Anon says:

    I can relate to the feeling that I was expected to have done my own research on pregnancy/birth. But, honestly, I didn’t do it and it was fine. I didn’t read a single book or take a birthing class or have a birth plan. If there are things you really care about (vaginal birth v c- section, natural birth, etc), then I think you do need to research, prepare and be your own advocate. If you are like me and will be fine with other experiences, then you don’t have to do anything. The L&D team will guide you through – this is what they do.

    I told my midwife I would see how it goes with respect to an epidural. She said that women who don’t prepare for a natural birth usually end up with the epidural. I said “OK” and she was fine. I did have an epidural, but had a straightforward vaginal birth. I’m very happy with my experience. The L&D team told me how to push, breathe, get comfortable, etc. in the moment. I am so happy I saved the hours of birthing classes and prep.

    If you are the type who can trust the pros on the day-of, you should feel free to not try to become an expert on info you will use one day of your life.

  136. Jord says:

    I feel you. To answer your questions, and we have very similar pre- natal experiences, I did have a birth plan, and not one single thing went according to plan. One hundred things will happen that you did not consider or read about. There may be times when you feel so ill-prepared and yes – alone – and frustrated by the whole experience (just wait until the child is out of you – no more care for you!).

    The best advice I can give you is to believe what your instincts are telling you and insist until you’re blue in the face on what you want and need. And when no one listens, insist some more. And ask Kyle to insist on your behalf. I was three heartbeats away from a blood transfusion I knew I didn’t need, and insisted everyone wait. Six hours later, my iron was up, but so was my swelling, and even though I insisted something was not right, no one listened until one week later when I was back in the hospital with post parting preeclampsia (which I did not even know was a thing).

    The point is, no one knows your body like you do – just look at the proof, you knew something was wrong, and it was – so so not let anyone tell you that what you are feeling isn’t real no matter how large or small.

    What I packed that I was so thankful for: comfy slippers, PJs, nursing bra, undies, nipple guards (they’re a thing), my own sweaters and scarves, comfy socks and shoes, nice smelling creams and oils. When I left the hospital, I wore the exact
    Same maternity leggings I wore when I arrived (and jeans).

    And if the plan changes, let it. Embrace it. Go with it. A baby that is alive and eats any acceptable food is what you want, and they don’t love you any less if they arrived through surgery, forceps or birth canal or if they drink breast milk or formula.

    Feel free to send me a note if you need more tips.

  137. Anne says:

    Abra, if you’re looking for a doula, this is my daughter in-law in Spokane. https://www.overthemoonbirthing.com/about-me.html Best wishes that you find someone who can help you moving forward.

  138. Kate says:

    Adding to the plethora of info. My tldr is this is about the long game and beyond the birth plan. I would think about pain management first and foremost with widespread epidural shortages.

    Postpartum is awful and birth throws curveballs your way so I think birth plans are bullsh*t. When I had my son 2 years ago I was at the top of my game health wise and professionally and felt untouchable even in peak covid lockdowns. On gameday at 10 cm, they found my baby was a surprise breech and had an emergency c section which was not the 24 hr hospital dream vaginal birth I planned for. I would say, you need minimal stuff in hospital but plan for a lot of support at home. Focus on postpartum supports because its the long game here – L&D is a short period of time and you get absolutely wrecked on day 2-3 when your hormones crash. Get an LC (they help with formula too) postpartum doula, and a pelvic floor physio on speed dial. Set up your home as if you’ll have a c section. Line up help. You got this and you’re going to be great!

  139. Chelsea says:

    First, you are doing great! The third trimester is tough for everyone and the anxiety of baby coming is consuming.

    Also, you probably won’t use the nursery for a few months, so no need to stress about furniture! Also, for me, I found it easier to breastfeed/bottle feed in straight backed chairs, so I primarily used our living room.

    I had a c-section and it was a very good experience. I definitely recommend bringing nursing bras in a size up to the hospital—I prefer the target ones—my breasts and nipples were so swollen, it hurt to go without a bra.

  140. S says:

    Sr BigLaw attorney. I had no time either. Watched some free birth class videos from BabyCenter.com and a 30 minute iBirth dvd (which was great) on birth positions/counter pressure. Oh and took a baby cpr. Pulled an all nighter at work 3 days before my daughter was born (realized that was dumb the next day). . Prep is great but it’s also just fine to demand your paid professionals do their job. Whatever your baby plan remember to try to sleep. Labor is the beginning of a period of time you don’t sleep so try not to drain the well if you don’t have to. I had an episiotomy and it was the right call by a great doc for my situation -choose then trust your doc.

    The misogyny in mothering is off the charts but being a lawyer is hard and you also deal with patriarchy so having a baby was NOT the hardest thing I’d done. It was just new.

  141. G says:

    You’ve gotten tons of good advice (although ignore anyone who tells you “x will be awful” bc all babies, bodies and expectations are different! so f that negativity) so I’ll just stick to things I didn’t see already that I didn’t know going in and might be helpful to you. FWIW, I’m a geriatric lawyer in the first trimester of my third pregnancy and learned new things from this thread!

    1. If you can, prepare for the BEST meal of your life. My kids were both born in the middle of the night but I made my husband go get me non-hospital food as soon as it was available because I have never been more hungry in my entire life. The tuna melt he retrieved will live forever as the best thing I have ever tasted. Also, my husband brought me a milkshake during a very long labor and that ended up being a good choice because I threw up at one point, and it was not terrible.

    2. If you water breaks (and mine did, both times) the fluid just keeps flowing. I imagined it would gush and then stop? It does not stop, because obviously your baby needs amniotic fluid but it just did not occur to me. I think I’ll stock a pair of thinx etc. this time. If my water doesn’t break, I’ll still use them for the monthlong period after.

    3. Your milk does not come in until days after delivery. I’d sort of pictured them popping the kid on my boob and being ensconced in a soft light and then my milk just flowing. For me, it was very stressful waiting for it to come in but keep in mind they expect the baby to lose up to 10% of its birth weight. I’ve since learned that if you pump before the baby is born you can save some extra colostrum for them to bridge the gap and I think I’ll do that this time. It’s an option if you think that might stress you out.

    4. There’s a whole hoopla about nipple confusion and not giving your baby a bottle or pacifier because it might hinder breastfeeding. The flip side of that is if your child is not used to a bottle, they may never take one, which happened with my son (my daughter preferred bottles which has its own drawbacks). Consider your lifestyle and preferences – what outcome would be worse? For me, being tethered to my bottle-refusing kid multiple times a day for 18 months was rough for lots of reasons and wouldn’t have even been possible except that the pandemic forced a WFH 2 weeks after my maternity leave ended. Feed your kid what you want, how you want.

    We are rarely in life given the chance to love someone so completely and know them so well. It can be messy and hard, but what a gift. You got this.

  142. Manu says:

    Hey Abra, I’m sorry you have to go through these scares. I live in Germany so I can’t give specific advice regarding the health system but I’m a mom too. Vitamin K and D are highly recommended and standard for newborns over here. You don’t need a birthplan but medical staff you can trust to guide you through birth and
    the care for baby and you. Choose a hospital with a NICU, if there is an issue every minute counts. Get the epidural if you feel like you need it. Have your hospital bag ready (but its the least important thing in the process tbh). Familiarize yourself with the baby carseat and bring the instructions 🙂 And consider to hire a postpartum midwife/doula. This again is standard over here and I found it so helpful for lactation and other problems and reassuring me about my baby’s health.

  143. Morgan says:

    I had twins in my 30s. A very high risk pregnancy, ended up in a high risk unit, and delivered via emergency c section at 30 weeks and 6 days.

    First of all – I am sorry your medical providers haven’t been patient and more willing to answer questions. That is, quite frankly, disgusting.

    My advice about a birth plan is to toss it out the window. My plan was simple: get them here safe. I am glad I didn’t adhere to any desires for one thing or the other, because I would have been tremendously let down.

    Don’t stress too much about the nursery. So many babies don’t sleep in it for months.

    I remember going to the doctor, and crying on the way there to my husband that I felt like work wasn’t slowing down. And at that appointment the doctor told me he wanted to admit me within a few weeks. The universe delivered what I needed.

    Despite a society that tells us we need all the things, I would focus on 1) tough discussions with your husband about signs of PPD, who to call, etc, 2) building in some post partum supports – can you hire/allow extended family or friends to come over and help with laundry, some light cleaning, etc? 3) and finally – get some dates and quality time in when you’re both done with quarantine.

    You will be a great mother – you’ll bring the tenacity to this that you have to other pursuits throughout your life. I have zero doubts about that.

  144. LX says:

    I’m saying this as a healthcare worker, don’t have a birth plan. The only thing to expect is the unexpected. I’m so type A I had 2 out of 4 kids on their due date but that’s also a joke because there’s very little you can control. Magically your body knows what to do and your health care providers can guide you through it all. If you don’t feel supported or advocated for by your OBGYN practice, let them know at your 6 week follow up and find another practice!

    And don’t take the horror stories to heart. Everyone loves to share their traumatic experiences but a lot of times everything goes remarkably well and you never hear about it. I’ve had worse periods than my second labor so I’m wishing that for you!

  145. Suz says:

    I understand how overwhelming this is but there isn’t a right way to have a baby. You are smart, compassionate and intuitive. The key is not to start with what is available or advised but instead with what you and your daughter need. The births of my two children were entirely different. I was generally knowledgable about what to expect and what options would be at my disposal. Then as labor progressed, I made choices that worked for me and my child. Try to relax and trust yourself. You are already an amazing mother!

  146. Kb says:

    First, fuck any healthcare provider who tells you you need to come in having done more research. The fuck?!? Unless they provided you with the materials, links.etc, then no. We will be using the appt to answer all my questions.

    Take a comfort item to the hospital for YOU. Maybe it’s a pillow, a lovey, for me it was a fleece throw blanket from my couch. I knew that soft, worn in blanket would give me so much comfort in a stressful time. And still love the pics of my baby snuggled into that blanket with me.

    My birth plan was 1) I leave the hospital alive. 2) My baby leaves the hospital with me. 3) I’d prefer gas to an epidural. That’s it.

  147. Lauren says:

    I don’t have any advice as I’ve never been through this, I’m just a long time reader that wants you to know you’re in my thoughts and I’m wishing you the best!

    I’m shocked that a medical team expects you to do so much research/figure things out on your own. That is very upsetting.

  148. Af says:

    Know this – there really aren’t a lot of wrong choices. For my first, I had a birth plan – I wanted to minimize interventions and deliver without an epidural if possible. When 12 hours passed after my water broke without progress, I had to be induced. A couple hours after my induction, I was blind and barely responsive with pain. At that point I had an epidural, and it was amazing. No pain, just pressure. I was still in labor for a total of 36 hours, but after 3 hours of pushing, my daughter was born (then she spent a week in the NICU for low blood sugar, but we’ve basically forgotten about this side note 7 years later).

    With baby 2, I asked for the epidural as soon as we got to the hospital. It was probably slower than it would have been otherwise, but it was easy. Baby 3 was a schedule induction at 41 weeks (despite my best efforts to get him out sooner) who became distressed a few hours into labor and had to be vacuumed.

    All 3 kids are now happy, healthy, and LOUD. No plan withstands first contact with the enemy. If there’s something you feel really strongly about, make sure Kyle knows to fight for it. Otherwise, if you trust your doctor, trust them. Know that things might go awry, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fundamentally ok.

    Also, as the nurse in the hospital told me when I tried to put on my own nightgown, “honey, wear ours, let us do the laundry.” Same goes for towels. You’ll be bloody and sweaty and gross – use their stuff and let them wash it.

  149. Pam says:

    At the hospital – bring your own pillow and a button up shirt, a kindle or ipad (it gets boring). Also bring two baby blankets and a spit up rag or two- after the baby is born wrap the baby in it, but the first night send Kyle home with it so that the dogs can smell it before you and babe arrive home. Babies don’t need much! Diapers are the only must have item; and a bunch of onesies so you don’t have to do a lot of laundry. A bassinet (which can frankly be a box!) Is handy when you need to put the baby down. You’ll want a comfy nursing top. Nursing is best for babies long term health. If it isn’t working, see a lactation consultant (I had to do it with my first, and regret using formula with my second). You can always pump and get that into babe. Kyle or a friend can run to the store for any urgent items. Also lanisoh for nipples!!

    If you deliver vaginally, ask if they have the ice cooling pads you can put in your underwear. (Some drugstores sell them I hear). Your private parts may be unrecognizable for a few days and those panty ice packs are wonderful.

    All the other baby equipment can show up late.

  150. Kate says:

    Lucie’s List has great articles detailing different birth scenarios in detail (the low down on what will happen, with different women’s perspectives on what if felt like, and recommendations). I read them all (natural birth/c-section planned/emergency c) and their NICU guide, because i’m an information person and it makes me feel more prepared to read about different scenarios. https://www.lucieslist.com/natural-birth/

    I ended up needing an emergency c section and had a baby in the NICU, and i felt prepared instead of shocked or scared at every step, because i had read those guides. My big decision before hand was whether I wanted my husband with me or to go with the baby to the NICU, and I sent him away with her. We also asked for a moment of silence before they started my operation, which we used to pray. They’ll do that for you, if you’d like.

    Pack a phone charger, some kind of tinted moisturizer and mascara (for pictures, to feel like yourself and not just a human milk machine); snacks, a comfy robe and nightgown, leggings or a dress for the trip home. Pack a nipple shield if you want to try nursing (or your breast pump, because a lactation consultant at the hospital can teach you how to use yours and show you all the tips and tricks).

    Also, a note about hospital staff: keeping people alive is an incredibly consuming task, and it often results in little attention to bedside manner. If your doctor or nurses aren’t super warm and fuzzy, its because all their energy is going into taking care of your and your sweet baby’s medical needs, and they’ve been doing that non-stop for 2 1/2 years without a break during a pandemic. They aren’t assholes, they are tired and their focus is on your health and not your feelings. I’m an ICU social worker and I spend a lot of time apologizing for my staff’s lack of tact or warmth, but I promise you, they are doing everything they can to take good care of you. Your nurses are working longer shifts without overtime because of staff shortages. The residents are new because its July and they just started.

    As someone who has been reading this blog for over a decade, I know you will get through this, and we will all be here for you along the way, every step. <3

    • Anna says:

      Thank you for the comment about hospital workers. I’m so tired of seeing maternity instagram content that’s so condescending to nurses and doctors and basically makes them out to be the enemy.

  151. Katelyn says:

    Consider getting a doula! They can help you figure out what you want and be your support person during labor. I definitely think that may help you feel a lot better about things and be able to stress less.

  152. Anna says:

    You’ve gotten so much good advice, so I couldn’t read through it all, but one thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet: for an exercise, you and Kyle should both think about your most important non-baby stressors/priorities for after you bring baby home and what you can do to mitigate them. For my spouse, it was missing bills, so he put everything he could on autopay. For me, it was prioritizing getting as much sleep and food as possible (I am a monster without either), so we freezer meal prepped and husband made sure I tried to nap between feedings.

    I got this advice from one of my hospital classes. I think some of the others were: will you be worried about your pets? Make a game plan for care and feeding of them/ hire a walker if necessary. Do you need a daily shower to feel human? Will crumbs on the floor make you miserable? Get a robot vacuum (if you can afford it). Essentially what are going to be the non-baby major weights on your mind and/or what will get you one big step closer to feeling human. Learn to be okay with letting a lot of things drop off your priorities (like spotless kitchens or folded laundry) if it doesn’t serve you.

    I will also stress that getting enough sleep (do your best, obviously) can help reduce the likelihood of PPD, but also PPD can just happen regardless. Definitely get support if you need it.

  153. Joyce says:

    Hi Belle,

    It’s been awhile for me and folks are giving loads of great advice. Here are a few highlights:
    1) Rent a hospital grade pump in advance to get the milk flowing
    2) Consider practicing deep breathing (I’m assuming that you don’t have time for a Lamaze class, which was unexpectedly helpful with breathing deeply during the birthing process)
    3) Epidural My husband unexpectedly fainted while watching me get the shot. The doctor had to catch him as he keeled over. Sounds silly, but perhaps Kyle should look away during this process if he’s at all squeamish around shots.

    HTH. Rooting for you!

  154. Pam says:

    Hi Abra
    Congratulations on making it this far.
    As a mother you have to learn to be a bit scared. You cannot control everything.
    My advice: see your doctors a lot and follow their advice.
    The plan may not pan out. You may end up in a c section. You may end up with an early and bumpy delivery.
    Don’t research anymore.
    Think if it as boarding a plane.
    Put yourself in the best professional hands and allow your mind to rest.
    Ps – I am foreign born hence the very direct advice. Type A personality. Partner in an accounting firm. Mother of two quite bumpy but glorious deliveries.

  155. Anon mom says:

    I’m sorry you are having a hard time – that sounds scary. For the next few weeks, let go of everything that’s unnecessary. In particular, don’t worry about the nursery – baby will be in your room for first few months anyway so all you need is a bassinet or crib in there and a place to change the baby (which can be a towel or SkipHop portable changing pad laid on your bed). Make sure you have diapers, car seat, newborn and 0-3 clothes, a white noise machine, a baby monitor, and a rectal thermometer and you are fine! The rest can come together later on.
    As for a birth plan it doesn’t need to be elaborate. The goal should be to limit interventions as much as you can but then do what’s right to protect you and the baby. Decide if you want to try to labor without drugs or get an epidural early on. You can always say you want an epidural if you change your mind. If you want to breastfeed, then ask for skin to skin right away after baby is born and for them to wait on any tests that don’t need to happen right away or washing the baby. I’d really second the advice to hire a doula or ask a friend or family member you trust who has been through this to be there with you.

  156. Katherine says:

    So much good advice here! I had too many plans and expectations going in to labour and that just created stress when reality didn’t match what I wanted. Go with the flow, girl!

  157. Lily says:

    Sending sympathy as I head into the third trimester. Growing a human is a full-time job and it’s exhausting in every way. Sorry you have to deal with scary complications (and not being able have your husband with you…that’s awful).

    I have a family member who works as a patient advocate for the elderly, and her stories of what can happen to people in the health care system are incredibly scary. She has also said that many healthcare professionals get really annoyed by patients asking questions *because it forces them to justify their decisions*, which are sometimes knee-jerk reactions or not particularly thoughtful. It’s a huge red flag. We all deserve to understand what is happening to us so we can fully consent. Her biggest advice is to make sure you are never left alone; you have a right to insist on your partner or support person staying with you at all times.

    FWIW, I chose a combo midwife/OB practice and my experience has been very positive so far. I am not a “crunchy” person, but have really appreciated the personal attention and attitude of the midwives. Wish that was an option in more areas.

  158. MXJ says:

    Sending you so much virtual support — it really is a shocking revelation becoming a mother and realizing for a country that purportedly places so much value on “life” and “families” there is nothing supporting that facade of words.

    Anywho, my best piece of advice (mama of 2- ages 4 &1) here is that in these final weeks leading up to your delivery, TRUST YOURSELF. Hearing you say you felt like your baby wasn’t moving — you did the right thing going in. Go in any time you feel concerned. Do not let concern about what the medical staff might think about you give you pause. Go in. Best case scenario: you get peace of mind. Worst case scenario: you get the medical attention you and the baby need. You can’t lose except maybe a bruised ego.

    I spent so much of my first pregnancy absorbing the providers’ messaging about not overreacting that, at 40w, I was nervous to go in when I felt like my baby wasn’t moving. Turns out it was a very urgent medical emergency for both of us and we were both hospitalized for weeks. (sorry, not sharing this to scare you — it was a freak thing.) To this day, I can’t believe I let my concern about what my NP “thought of me” jeopardize my health and my now 4 year olds’ health.

  159. Nicole says:

    My honest advice to you is to keep it simple. Do you want an epidural or not? If you need to have a c-section, are you and hubs on the same page and can agree to say ‘yes’, etc? Are you at the point that if delivery doesn’t go smoothly that you are both okay with going along with what the doctors say to do?

    There are some things you just cannot say no to. Things can go fast, especially if there is an emergency. What I do recommend is that if you feel that something isn’t right or that you are not begin heard, SPEAK UP AND CONTINUE TO SPEAK UP (and hubs as well). This is the most important. Advocating for yourself!!!!!!! Mother’s intuition is a powerful thing. Even if you think you think you know nothing about medical stuffs, you are the mother and you will just know.

    Please please take a break where you can give and take care of yourself at all costs. Being exhausted now is nothing compared to when that baby comes. Being exhausted on top of newborn is not going to be good (I had baby #2 when #1 was 18 months and didn’t rest at all, did all the things, and then baby came and I was wiped out.) Please rest and put yourself first. It’ll help when baby comes and you can focus on you and baby.

    PS – You don’t need a nursery right now. Just a safe sleeping space and a cart with all the wipes, diapers, etc. That’s it for the first three months.

  160. Samara says:

    I have not read all of the comments, but with respect to the anemia, I would wake every morning and have a glass of OJ with an iron supplement. I was advised that Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Laying in bed with a tummy full of orange juice gave the baby a lot of kicking energy, so it was a good bonding time.

    Best wishes over the next few weeks. If it’s possible to put off anxiety of having a fully-furnished/decorated nursery ready by the birth, let that ease from your mind. In the first several weeks after birth, we had the baby in a moses basket right next to our bed and hardly spent time in the nursery.

  161. Wendy says:

    Hello,

    for you anemia, I hope they are giving you Iron transfusions, they will make you feel so much better and are good for momma and baby.

  162. Claire says:

    Abra –

    Wishing you all the best in the last few weeks. I have been reading your blog for over a decade and through 2 births myself. Bottom line: I put SO much energy into the birth and the birth plan. In the end, that is a blip in the grand scheme of childcare. So my advice is– I would not focus much on the birth (limit attendees as much as possible, you won’t need everything you pack, plan for a good meal post-birth). Focus on the part when you leave the hospital. You need your partner 100% + more post-partum supports–meal train, meal delivery, freezer meals, grocery delivery. Buy books now on early childcare–Mom’s On Call is great. Read about realistic baby sleep schedules for the first 2 months. Think about who could come help you for an hour or two a day so you can shower or sleep. Truly truly focus on that post-partum 6-10 weeks. Best of luck!

  163. Emily says:

    Benefits of a doula have been mentioned a ton- but to add to the echo chamber, having one made all the difference for me. Couldn’t recommend that route any more if it’s an option for you, it was worth every penny for me.

    I had a very meticulous birth plan. The topline mantra was healthy baby, healthy mama, but I had painstakingly considered all the other options. It all went out the window after I got to the hospital at 8 CM dilated, was pushing within the hour, and then after 3 1/2 hours of pushing, she wasn’t budging, so they made me get an epidural and let me push for another hour, and she still wasn’t budging, so c-section it was. I was also surprised that my body sort of knew what to do during birth. I felt a visceral need to get on my hands and knees or sit on the toilet during contractions, but as soon as I started pushing I knew that I needed to move out of that hands and knees position. Trust your body.

    Your birth will probably not go as you expect it to (just like weddings, career plans, and everything else we so carefully consider). If it’s important to you to have a plan because it makes YOU feel like you’re in control, great! If you’re only doing it because your medical team is pushing it, it’s okay for you to tell them that you just want to go with what the medical standard of care is without having to stress over the details.

    I loved the book Expecting Better, which walks through a lot of the decisions you’ll make about skin to skin, vitamin K, etc.The best part is that if you don’t want to read the whole thing, there’s a checklist summary at the end of each chapter that gives you the jist. The author, Emily Oster, is an economist, and uses data to break all the decisions down, and calls bs when there isn’t actually a medical reason for certain things.

    The biggest things for me were: music (playlists went out the window, my poor doula, husband, and nurses wound up listening to Taylor Swift’s last two albums on repeat), skin to skin and breastfeeding as soon as possible (later than I wanted them to be due to the c-section, but wound up still within that golden hour I think?), hair ties and chapstick (so many more than you think you need, it’s shockingly hard for men to find them in a bag), and then something comfy to change into after your first shower. If you decide you want to try breastfeeding, don’t be afraid to ask for help immediately! Holding a brand new baby is already a lot to get used to, then breastfeeding is a whole different ball game of awkward at first. The lactation consultants are great (and you should definitely ask to see them as much as you want/need to while you’re at the hospital), but you most likely won’t see them until you’re transferred to the postpartum unit. My doula helped me learn to feed my daughter for the first time because I had no idea what I was doing.

    There are a lot of decisions to make, and it can get really exhausting and overwhelming. The final stretch is so hard, but do your best to take it day by day. You will get through it and it will be okay.

  164. Cecilia says:

    They should call it a “birth preferences” doc, not a birth plan. Love the recommendations in here about how to handle. Also, ask the OB what their standard practices are. You don’t need to make a decision if it is something that is the standard of care.

    Yes, yes, yes to doula – birth and postpartum!

    FeedBaby app to keep track of feedings and diapers

    Hospital bag:
    – pouch to keep essentials in the hospital bed with you (lip balm, lotion, sleep mask, charger etc.)
    – pumping bra, just in case
    – Snacks and coconut water, maybe bone broth if you anticipate being put on a clear liquid diet
    – Earth Mama nipple butter

    At home:
    – Kindred Bravely high waist postpartum panties
    – Bombas gripper socks
    – Nordstrom Moonlight pjs 🙂

  165. Alicia says:

    March of Dimes has a simply birth plan where you write out what you want: https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/your-birth-plan.aspx

    I was at a conference on Friday and someone said for postpartum – make a door hanger and tell people what they can do.
    1. Wash your hands, wear a mask, be vaccinated, etc
    2. Do a household chore (wash dishes, empty the dishwasher, vaccum, throw in a load of laundry, clean the bathroom, etc)
    3. Leave

    The leave part is important – you need time for yourself without poeple hanging out.

  166. Megan says:

    I won’t repeat the (excellent) advice to get a doula. I wanted to instead offer my advice to all new moms.

    I don’t have baby specific advice because once she is here, you will know your daughter better than anyone. Every baby is different and I find most “you should….” advice regarding babies to be unhelpful at best.

    But I do have a “you should…” for you. And that is this: any time you are not holding your daughter, you should stand (or sit) up as straight as possible, roll your shoulders back and down, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. I am no a yoga person at all but man if that isn’t the most necessary thing I found in my post-partum life. You will spend a lot of time curling your body around hers, your shoulders are going to round around her, your head will hang low over hers. Straighten yourself out every now and then. It will feel amazing! Best of luck to you over the next several weeks. We are all thinking of you.

  167. Danielle says:

    I’m so sorry to hear that things have been tough. Here is the best advice I got – it came before I had my first child and it held true for my second and third. A Partner at my firm told me, “Don’t forget to bring a book of matches to the hospital so you can burn up your birth plan!”

    Things, generally, will not go according to plan. The birth plan is a good chance to think about what is important to you and what is not. I took a Bradley Birth class and it helped me understand the different procedures/interventions and what I was comfortable with so I felt educated when I was in the room. You may also think about hiring a doula who can be your advocate in the moment.

    But what I will say… after an induction/vaginal birth with my first; spontaneous labor/emergency c-section with my second; and finally a planned c-section with my third… is that there is no easy way to get a baby out of your body. BUT the day will still be beautiful, with all of its unplanned moments (there will be many). And when you have that baby in your arms, it will make all of the tough times worth it. Sending love.

  168. Leslie says:

    Don’t waste energy worrying about packing. The hospital has everything you need and it’s a very messy process. I didn’t want my own clothes anywhere near me. All I really used was what I brought for entertainment (e.g., a book, magazine, headphones, iphone/pad) because there can be a lot of waiting. And my going home outfit of my first/second trimester maternity jeans and a top was a joke…the belly takes quite a while to shrink back down and I was pretty sore everywhere. I threw on the dress I wore to the hospital.

    On the birthing plan, I didn’t have one for any of my three deliveries, even though I had done a ton of research and generally knew what I hoped for going in. I didn’t miss it at all. I think it creates a false sense of control and even sets you up for failure because it is NEVER, EVER going to go as planned. Just try to be present in the moment and trust your gut if something seems off and you need to advocate for yourself (and prepare Kyle to do the same).

  169. mallory says:

    My advice is to familiarize yourself with what can go wrong. I thought for sure my L&D would be by the book. My labor never progressed for 12 hours-I think they might have given the epidural too early. I also think the doctor forgot about me because as soon as a new one came on it was all go for c-section. I knew nothing about this procedure because I assumed I wouldn’t need one so it was really scary. My son had to go to the NICU immediately because his lungs were a bit compromised. He was fine otherwise but it was scary. Esp b/c 911 happened while we were in the hospital. After reading everyone’s advice about getting a doula I think that would be a great idea for you. Nobody did that back in the day -it would have been so beneficial in my situation. In the end it all turned out great and my baby will be 21 soon????

  170. AttiredAttorney says:

    I took all the pregnancy, child birth, and breastfeeding classes, read all the books, and had a very loose birth plan and an idea that I hadmy preferences but was prepared to go with the flow given all the preparation I had done and a belief that I was equipped to make whatever decisions would be presented to me because of all the background work I had done. I was wrong. I was not prepared for how many medical interventions are not presented as a choice at all, and how fast things happen (almost before you can speak up with a preference). Even with a very supportive birth partner who attended all the classes with me, I so, so, so wish I had hired a doula (which I had considered but dismissed because it was expensive). Even though I ended up having a relatively medically uncomplicated birth at the end of the day, the way the events unfolded was very traumatizing. If there is a next time, I won’t do it without the doula.

  171. Kristin says:

    Highly recommend the book The Birth Partner. Although written for partners, the information was incredibly helpful for someone giving birth for the first time at the ripe old age of 35.

    I developed gestational hypertension around 32 weeks and learned I’d likely be induced at 37 weeks, which could likely involve a C-section. This was decidedly NOT the birth plan I’d envisioned, but this book helped me know what to expect.

    FWIW, I hired a doula…but they weren’t allowed in the hospital, due to Covid precautions. And my labor ended up culminating in a C-section. There’s lots you can’t control about the birthing process, no matter how much you try to prepare. Knowing that (and trying to accept that) helped me. Good luck!

  172. DaniellE says:

    I think it’s absolutely crazy that you have to “research” before your dr appointments so, you’re definitely not alone there! That’s a load of bs…

    In the last trimester, I seriously thought I could give birth at any moment but my first was 9 days late and my second right on time. I’m not saying this will happen. To you but try to find ways to stay calm and ease your anxiety each day, that’s a huge priority for keeping not only you healthy but that sweet baby of yours healthy too.

    With my first pregnancy I did write out a birth plan but not with my second . like you said anything can happen and it’s extremely rare for things to go exactly as planned. Just have a battle plan for the major decisions and get emotionally prepared for what may happen I.e natural birth v c section and what you need in place for after care in the hospital and at home to make you as comfortable as possible – don’t go crazy just the basics.

    Advocate for yourself, have your husband be there to do the same but it all comes down to the healthiest, safest options for you and your baby.

    Packing for the hospital, I tried to bring as many things so I could freshen up without having to use the hospital supplies. Trial size toothpaste, dry shampoo, a loofa, body wash, shower shoes(old navy $2 flip flops). 2 dark night gowns and a cotton knee length robe, a blanket and pillow from home (these seem “extra” but made me more comfortable), slippers that have grips on the bottom, a comfy going home outfit, like a maxi dress or joggers (whatever you’re comfortable in). A sleeping eye mask, earbuds, charger, phone…

    Take pictures afterwards, you may feel puffy/ not looking your best but you’ll treasure those photos forever.

    And, just think, there’s a reason why so many women try for another after their first pregnancy. You will make it through, you got this mama!

  173. Rachel says:

    This might be unusual advice but I would give yourself permission to not plan if there isn’t something you feel very strongly about during the birthing process.

    If there are things you feel strongly about, make peace with the idea that you might not have control over them when you go into labor. I had a lot of intense opinions about how I “should” give birth and how I wanted it to go.

    Also, as a woman powering through her career, I was used to a combination of intellect and determination successfully getting me anywhere I wanted to go. I have seen this with many of my friends, too. They haven’t let anything stop them, and some combo of perseverance and critical thinking has always gotten them through.

    Labor is not something you can use your intelligence or stubbornness to control. It is hard to accept. I felt like a failure throughout many phases of my labor, first for needing an epidural when I planned to refuse one (with the help of my doula!), and then for an emergency C-section when I could not push that baby out, and finally for not being able to get a latch and breastfeed. I threw a lot of time, sanity, and in some cases money (lactation consultants) at the “issues” to no avail.

    I also think we spend a lot of time thinking about birth during pregnancy and while it is one of the craziest things I’ve ever experienced, in retrospect, it’s a day or two at most. The infancy of your new baby will be weeks. Give yourself permission, if you can, to study up on things that will help you through those first 6-8 weeks, rather than obsessing about birth, which is…going to go how it goes, no matter how much you read or worry about it.

  174. Lauren says:

    My number one piece of advice is to ask for what you want, even if it may not be the norm. We had both our sons sent to the nursery for a few hours in between feeds so I could get some sleep. We brought pacifiers with us. I asked for a lactation consultant for every single feed. I ended up formula feeding both, and while the shortage has been crazy stressful, it’s still the best way of feeding my kids, but having the lactation consultants available were helpful. If possible, see if you have access to the same one repeatedly – I learned that different LC’s had different advice and it was a LOT.

    On that note – no one cares as much as you do about how you feed your daughter. I thought everyone would judge me for formula feeding but truly the only person who cared (at least who mattered and wasn’t a rando on the internet) was myself. Do what works for you, Kyle, and your daughter and ignore everyone else. If you formula feed, findmybabyformula.com has been a lifesaver during the shortage!

    Take 10 foot chargers and good hand and lip moisturizers to the hospital.

    Soak up every moment, every snuggle, every baby cry, every tiny finger. Don’t let the world rush you through this phase. There’s no such thing as spoiling a baby with too many snuggles – despite what my mom would tell you. It’s also ok to take a break and get some time to breathe and be on your own. This is a huge life change and there’s no right way to adjust.

    I wish someone had told me how much each kid would rock my marriage, or that it would be temporary. We are finding our way back to each other again (our second son is 5 months) but it was rough for a while. Do your best to communicate openly and often, ignore anything that is said between the hours of midnight and 4 am, and know that things get better.

    I’ll leave you with the two best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten: 1: Just like adults, sometimes babies are just having an off day and need a hug. It may not be that they are hungry, or tired, or need a diaper change. 2: Whatever decision you/you and Kyle make is the right decision for you, your daughter, and your family. No one knows what she needs more than you and Kyle, no matter what the internet tells you.

Join The List

Stay up to date on the latest from Capitol Hill Style!

sUBSCRIBE

Ask the Editor: May 2024 AMA

Every month, I solicit questions from my Instagram followers for an Ask Me Anything. So let’s get to some fashion questions.

0

READ MORE 

Recent Posts

Ask the Editor: Root Touch Up Tips

As we age, we deal with the changes in different ways. Maybe we accept them and move on. Maybe we try to lessen or conceal them. Maybe we fight back like a UFC fighter. That’s why there are many ways to deal with graying hair.

1

READ MORE 

Ask the Editor: Swimwear for Your 40s

The unofficial start of summer means that pools across the country are opening and beach trips are on the horizon, and that means swimwear. And the older you get, the tougher it can be to find the right suit.

11

READ MORE 

VIEW ALL POSTS

Ask the Edit, Style, Top Posts | May 29, 2024

Ask the Editor: May 2024 AMA

Every month, I solicit questions from my Instagram followers for an Ask Me Anything. So let’s get to some fashion questions.

0

READ MORE 

Ask the Edit, Posts, Style | May 29, 2024

Ask the Editor: Root Touch Up Tips

As we age, we deal with the changes in different ways. Maybe we accept them and move on. Maybe we try to lessen or conceal them. Maybe we fight back like a UFC fighter. That’s why there are many ways to deal with graying hair.

1

READ MORE 

Ask the Edit, Posts, Style | May 28, 2024

Ask the Editor: Swimwear for Your 40s

The unofficial start of summer means that pools across the country are opening and beach trips are on the horizon, and that means swimwear. And the older you get, the tougher it can be to find the right suit.

11

READ MORE 

Ask the Edit, Posts, Style | May 23, 2024

Ask the Editor: Vol. IV, No. Twenty-One

This week, the reader mail bag was full of little things. Pajama advice. Jewelry cleaning tips. Small things, but ones you might also be curious about, so let’s get started.

18

READ MORE 

RECENT POSTS

©2023 CAPITOL HILL STYLE | SITE BY LEIGH THE STUDIO