Well after 41 weeks O finally arrived after 16 hours of labour, forceps and an epidural, Tom was the one who revealed the sex – male – and got the first cuddle. Weighing in at 7 lbs and 9 oz, Thorfinn and I got an extended stay in hospital but we are both doing well now.
The support of the Midwives and the rest of the labour/ post-natal staff was brilliant. I had issues breast feeding as Thorfinn had to be formula fed at first due to jaundice so he took a bit of time to get the idea of working for his meal. I got loads of support and encouragement from everyone and (as I was doing a formula/breast milk combination) a lot of help. So a massive thanks to everyone who helped (especially those that pulled the night-time feed/ changes when I was at my lowest).
Well our wee boy is nearly two weeks old and life is beginning to get a rhythm of sorts so I thought it a good time to reflect on five things I wish I’d known/ realised before labour:
1. Breast feeding isn’t as easy as the DVD suggested.
When you are producing less colostrum than you give antibiotics to a rat, it is frankly a depressing activity. Hard work and support may well let you continue (as I found) but when you are exhausted it does seem like a hard option for something that is supposed to be so natural. If you can do it though it does become rewarding (though you do feel like a cow at points when demand feeding).
2. An epidural is a good thing.
Getting an injection in your spine sounds scary and the ‘things that can go wrong’ speech they have to give doesn’t make it sounds less so but it sure does help with uncontrollable pain. When I was first admitted I got gas and air but because the contractions were so constant I found it almost impossible to get fresh air. This meant I vomited like something from The Exorcist after about two hours (I really don’t recommend that especially as it then requires you to get out of the bed and go for a shower and get re-dressed, all without pain medication). The epidural allowed me to focus (things like pushing require you to concentrate) and answer important questions (like can you sign this document saying we can take you to surgery) or take on information (the baby is at the wrong angle we need to move it with forceps). It did make me shake and I had to have a catheter but that was a small price to pay for the relief and comfort it brought.
3. The hospital bag list didn’t tell me…
That when it says an outfit for the baby, the best option is a front opening sleep suit and a short sleeved base layer (saves you trying to pull multiple layers down little arms). Front opening is great as Thorfinn didn’t like having his head shoved into outfits, the doctors could get easy access to feet to check his tags and it is much easier to fit over a tiny hand with a cannula. Oh and pack on the assumption you’ll be kept in for 2 days, although Tom was allowed in every day between 8am and 8pm he was so shattered the first day that the spare clothes he brought were a rather random mix.
4. it also forgot to mention…
That you want to pack at least a pair of baby socks even if you have packed an outfit that doesn’t need them. These can be used as scratch mits or to protect a cannula – allowing doctors easy access but preventing baby from pulling at it. It does not stop baby from hitting themselves in the face with it – swaddling does that. Oh and some bibs won’t go amiss espcially if you do end up formula feeding.
5. Pack a notebook and pen
This was one of the most useful things I packed. Thorfinn had eyes that needed cleaned and antibiotic drops, nappy changes, formula feeds plus I had to express what little I was producing and all of that needed a range of resources, plus set timing. Writing down the times and lists of what I needed to be able to feed etc. meant I felt I had some control and was sure I wouldn’t forget anything as sleep is a luxury and I certainly was doing well if I had 3 hours a night when we were in.