Lucky for me, two of my closest girlfriends had babies the same year Vienna was born. 2015 felt like the year of babies at least in my social circle! Many things my girlfriends went through, I went through too. Of course, every woman's experience is unique, but the similarities helped me through some of the more challenging times, whether it was figuring out breastfeeding, how to care for my lady parts post-pregnancy or discussing the challenges of pooping. Even though some of these convos weren't always the most joyous, it comforted me to know that my friends were going through the same things I was.
After speaking with my girlfriends and other mama acquaintances, I gathered the top 10 things every woman should know before giving birth. I had many moments in the first few months of Vienna’s life where I thought to myself “if I only knew this when I was pregnant.”
I’m sure all you mamas out there could add to this list, so I would LOVE for you to post your experiences in the comments section below to grow this list and help other mamas!
This top 10 list contains some things I learned from others before giving birth, and some that I learned along the way from other mamas and my own experiences. However, I wish that I knew all of the things on this list before giving birth, because I would have done some things differently. For one, I would have seen my pelvic floor physiotherapist before giving birth.
Top 10 Things Every Woman Should Know Before Giving Birth
1. See a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can assess you and advise on the proper way to strengthen your pelvic floor.
This should ideally happen before you even become pregnant, but if not, while you’re pregnant. Most women see a physiotherapist once baby has arrived when they have problems, but you can get ahead of it and hopefully prevent any pelvic floor issues if you see one earlier. You can read about Vanessa’s journey to pelvic health and some tips to ensure a speedier recovery .
2. Prepare your vagina-care (aka “lady-part love” kit) with the essentials once you are 30-plus weeks along.
Your body needs as much care and attention as your baby. From “padsicles” to witch hazel, get your lady part love-kit ready because the last thing you want to be doing at 3am while breastfeeding and feeling very sleep-deprived is soaking pads in witch hazel.
3. Skip the “birth plan.”
I can just see my type-A readers losing their mind over this one! Don’t worry though, keep reading. What I mean by “skipping” the birth plan is that you should have a wish list, but be open to change for the birth of your baby. Many women get very hung up on having things go a certain way – such as having a natural childbirth – and then it doesn’t go the way they planned. You can’t really “plan” a birth because you can’t look into a crystal ball and know everything that is going to happen. Whether you have a midwife or an ob/gyn, make sure they are aware of your wishes for pain relief and other important decisions you may need to make while in labour, but don’t get too hung up on your plan. This is why a “wishlist” is a much better option.
4. Hire a doula, if budget allows.
A doula is a birth companion and can also be an important post-birth support. Doulas provide non-medical physical and emotional support. If you are familiar with my birthing story, I had a doula, and this helped me have a natural birthing experience. I couldn’t have done it without my support team, which including my incredible doula, my husband Walker, and my midwives.
5. Be willing to ask for help.
Building on the previous point, support is absolutely essential when your beautiful baby arrives! For many women it's simply not a reality to have your partner at your beck and call, especially if they have a full-time job. Of course, every woman's experience will be different, but most women have trouble walking around and no woman should be on her feet for too long after delivery making dinner, doing dishes, etc. You've got a baby to look after and a vagina that needs to heal. Lean on family and friends (literally) that's what they are there for. Or hire a doula to support you after your baby's birth. When others ask you if you need anything, say yes.
6. Have some ready-made meals.
I can’t tell you the number of mamas that tell me they ate takeout for the first three months of their babe’s life. This is both costly and probably not very healthy. While the last thing you want to be doing it is cooking when you’ve got a three-week-old, you do need to make sure you eat nourishing meals to help heal your body and produce healthy, nutrient-dense breast milk. A few weeks before your babe arrives, make meals ahead of time and freeze them. Here are some great meal and snack ideas you can easily freeze and enjoy when your beautiful bundle arrives:
7. Take it one moment at a time.
When I was first thinking about this point, I wrote “take it one day at a time.” Then, after chatting with my girlfriend Candice (who has a new blog about exclusively pumping) she said “take it one moment at a time.” She’s so right. Every moment with a newborn is different. So when you feel frustrated and doubtful you can, for example, get your crying babe to sleep, know that the next moment can and will change. Nothing is permanent with a newborn and this is a good thing. Your love is the only thing that is permanent. <3
8. Coconut oil is your new best friend, so stock up!
Coconut oil is pretty much the only product I use on Vienna on a daily basis. Since she was born, I’ve slathered her bum with coconut oil at every single diaper change. I also slather her with oil after a bath. Coconut oil is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which is great for preventing and helping to treat diaper rash.
9. Buy a good nursing bra before you start nursing.
I speak from experience here. I didn’t buy any nursing bras because I got hand-me-downs. While I appreciate the hand-me-downs, my boobs were way too small for the bras I was given, and I didn’t realize nipple chafing I was experiencing was due in part to having the wrong size nursing bra. I couldn’t even have a thin sheet touch my nipples the first six weeks! Looking back, I can’t believe I tortured myself further with the wrong size bra. I ended up buying Bravado wireless nursing bras. I have three of them, and they are the most comfortable bras I’ve ever had.
10. Have a referral on hand for a lactation consultant and a chiropractor.
There are many experts that can help you ease into mamahood. Nursing was really tough for me in the beginning, so having experts was essential for my success in breastfeeding. A chiropractor may not be the first health expert you think of when it comes to breastfeeding, but my chiro was instrumental in helping to adjust Vienna so she could latch better. Here are some great tips from my chiropractor Dr. Aliya.
Now that you’ve read my top 10 list, what do you think? If you’ve got some great tips to add, please post them in the comments section below. I would love to keep this list growing!