Experiences of pregnancy

"Just keep remembering during all of the trying times during the last trimester and the rough times of labor - you will be rewarded for your suffering. The rewards are so great that all the discomforts and waiting seem so dim and trivial!!! You are in for quite a treat!"

"I have four bits of advice about pregnancy and childbirth: Do not smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, or take unnecessary drugs. Children have enough difficulties in today's world without having to start out with some sort of preventable physical abnormality. Babies are such innocent creatures who did not ask to be brought into the world. The least we can do as responsible adults is to give them the best start possible. Just because you are pregnant, it does not mean you can eat whatever you want. Make sure you maintain a well-balanced diet and go light on the sweets. Anything you gain over approximately 20 lb. will be with you after the birth, and we all know that losing weight is not very easy. Be sure to do exercises. Giving birth is very hard work, and you should be in the best physical shape possible. The one area I did not pay enough attention to was my arms. They got very tired during the pushing portion of delivery, and also you will need strong arms to carry your baby around. Do not be afraid, stay relaxed. The contractions are very uncomfortable, but it is a `good' pain, and the result of all that work is wonderful!"

"Don't always listen to the terrible stories of giving birth. After 2 births and three KIDS ( A 3 YR old and 1 yr old twins) all deliveries went fine. Sure it hurts, but after seeing your baby for the first time you forget about all the pain."

"There is so much advice you'll receive that does not apply to you and your child within. Trust what you know of yourself and your pregnancy experience MORE than you trust `outsiders'. And READ, READ, READ!"

"When you're pregnant and people tell you about the birth's of their babies, they may of had a totally natural child birth with no medication or

had lots of pain. Remember everyone is different. If your in pain or something is wrong, you may need medication or a cesarean. What's best for you and your baby is important and nothing else counts. Don't let people shame you on your decision. A HEALTHY, HAPPY, NORMAL BABY IS ALL THAT'S IMPORTANT."

"Pregnancy is not a disease that needs to be cured or generally treated in any way. Eat healthy food with lots of good protein to grow your baby. Research the choices of pregnancy and delivery and make educated decisions. Find a birth assistant who supports your choices (Dr., midwife, whatever). Take an active role in your pregnancy and delivery; don't just let it `happen' to you."

"Give serious thought to nursing. Aside from being the best for baby, it is the most convenient. The milk is always fresh, warm and handy. No bottle washing, worrying about milk being too old or too hot, and it is the most economical (formula is expensive). If you decide to try nursing, buy a good book on nursing or call LaLeche League."

"Learn as much as you can about the biological process and learn to listen to your body and what it needs. Have a midwife or a doctor whom you trust and whose beliefs you also share. Ask a lot of questions, don't listen to other people's horror stories and rest while you can."

"I had a perfect pregnancy but 40 hours of labor. About pregnancy; take care of yourself and realize that you are special because you are giving life to a new human being. About giving birth; just be calm, be cool and breathe. Every contraction brings you closer to seeing your beautiful baby. Even though I had a hard labor, it was a wonderful experience."

"You are taking part in a miracle. Realize that and enjoy it. Take care of yourself during that time and don't be afraid to ask for help. Rest as much as you can especially that last month before the due date. With my first child who is 6 today, I am reliving in my mind his delivery. I was 2 weeks overdue and felt he would never be born. So I behaved as if I weren't pregnant. I didn't rest, did whatever I wanted and ended up going into labor after being gone that day for over 12 hours. I was definitely not rested for the event. Consequently I was exhausted and wasn't able to enjoy the process. After Tony was born he was wide awake and content. All I wanted to do was sleep so I missed that precious time. With my other 2, the labor experience was much nicer because I was rested and could experience it. It is not an especially enjoyable time but it is a miraculous time."

"Enjoy being pregnant. Remember how it feels to have your baby kick and squirm because you'll miss it. Don't anticipate the birth with fear or anxiety. Soon enough you'll have a beautiful baby to more than compensate for any pain."

"Try to be calm. Don't fight the birth process by being too anxious. Breathing exercises really helped me. Enjoy being pregnant. Now that I'm not, there are times I actually miss it!"

"The nine months of pregnancy and the unbelievable miraculous experience of giving birth is a process that your mind needs to relive over and over and over again before it is resolved and stored away in your memories. For some time after you become new parents, you will think back over pregnancy and birth for many reasons - but two of which are : (1) To tie the experience together with the little person you now hold in your arms and see and know; and (2) to `measure' your performance against all other expectations you or others had about the birthing process. For this reason I have found it very helpful that I kept a journal with dates and events that occurred during pregnancy, labor and delivery. Include times as well, especially during labor and delivery, because when you look back - things will be jumbled or misaligned. Write down your feelings and experiences about giving birth as soon as possible after it occurs so you don't forget. My daughter is almost eight months old and I still think about the experience my husband and I went through together and read my journal almost daily."

"Stay fit and don't overindulge food-wise. You'll be happier with yourself post partum."

"Don't try and be brave. Giving birth is very hard work. Tell your birth partner if you're uncomfortable or in pain. Often they can help. (Back rubs, ice packs, or even just distracting you). Don't feel guilty if you scream or say things you wish you didn't. The doctors and nurses hear it all the time and it doesn't bother them."

"Relax - see childbirth as truly an extension of making love - the culmination. A relaxed, happy birth really starts the baby off to be a happy, relaxed baby. I had my third baby at home and there was so much beauty and joy and none of the frustrating hassle experienced at the hospital births. Wherever you are through, relax and enjoy it!"

"My second pregnancy went so much better because I was more relaxed, but I took it so much more in stride. I didn't get as big either. I also tried to stay away from sweets and ate good food, and didn't gain as much weight. I did have bad `morning sickness' for 3 months, it was hard with another child, but I just didn't do much, it was too hot that summer anyway. I had to take Tums for my heartburn with both pregnancies. My first child I had a C-section and an awful experience, the 2nd one was still a hard labor but I had her vaginally, and that was wonderful, such an easy recovery, worth the pain of labor, but I still don't like the labor, never had a `natural' contraction, always had to be induced which is not much fun. To say the least, this is our last child!!"

"Enjoy it and get lots of rest. Enjoy the delivery/birth and the days in the hospital, they are special times and go by way too quickly. Make it a special time when decorating/setting up the nursery and do it enough in advance so you can enjoy it and look forward to the birth with readiness."

"That it is the most wonderful and fulfilling experience one will ever have! Just enjoy your pregnancy and let everyone pamper you if that is what they wish. The greatest thing you and your partner can do is to read any material on pregnancy and about the birthing process. Attend classes to learn more and to talk to other people who are experiencing some of the same things you are going through. I felt that reading and becoming better educated on pregnancy and birth helped me be better aware of what was happening to myself, the baby and my husband. And it certainly helped in the delivery room - you knew what step was happening next. It helped for an easier delivery! And when you see that tiny little baby - you see what you and your spouse and God created!"

"Drinking alcohol can be dangerous while you are pregnant or nursing. Ask your doctor about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome."

"Don't wish the days and weeks away with `I can't wait untils.' Babies are pretty wonderful from day one. Don't miss their skills and attributes - however subtle they may be - in wishing away the time until the big milestones like entrance into your dream of the `perfect birth experience', remember that the bottom line is a healthy baby and healthy mom. When people on the street `coo' at your gorgeous little girl or boy, they never need to know that you gouged your husband's arms with your fingernails - like I did."

"Savor the feelings of pregnancy: memorize them because you may soon forget. Such feelings as baby moving, developing and even the size of your stomach. Giving birth is truly exhausting but exhilarating. Read, talk to other parents, interview doctors, delivery nurses, anesthesiologists. They are very reassuring and will help you be prepared. Then, enjoy your baby: just look at him/her while he/she sleeps. They are miracles."

"My advice would be that when you are pregnant be sure to get the proper pre-natal care and follow the doctor's instructions, it can make a world of difference.

My advice on the birth experience itself would be to think of it as a good experience and a sort of happy pain. Because, when the baby is finally born you almost completely forget the pain and cherish the task you have just accomplished. There is no better feeling than giving birth and the emotions of love you experience."

"I feel pregnancy and giving birth are never fun but the whole experience is much easier the second time around."

"Keep a journal. Write your feelings and thoughts. Try to keep your due date in the back of your mind. As far as the birth make sure your Dr. or midwife know your intentions (concerning episiotomy, medications, etc.). Inform them before you find yourself in actual labor."

"About being pregnant I would say take care of yourself - health wise - but also indulge yourself with rest and self-absorption! Don't try to prove you are the strongest and most competent woman who ever went through pregnancy and child birth! It can be a nice time to focus in and contemplate the future changes in your family and life - so give yourself space to do that. About giving birth I would say to let yourself go - express your feelings and your thoughts rather than censoring yourself. Ask for all the help you need and ask for exactly what you want. Remember that every birth experience is unique - there is no one right way."

"I fretted a lot over gaining so much weight (almost 60 lbs.). But after giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl, losing the pregnancy weight was/is only a minor inconvenience.

Advice: Try to eat healthfully, but accept the fact that every woman's body handles pregnancy differently, and yours is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing to produce a healthy baby. Remind yourself that you are a good person for creating a healthy environment for your baby to grow in."

"Read. Read. Read. Read anything about pregnancy and childbirth that you can possibly find. The knowledge does help to ease any fears you may have. Pay little attention to the `horror' stories that other moms like to tell about their childbirth experience. Remember: If giving birth is as terrible as some of these moms make you believe, why do they have more than one baby? It's not all that terrible."

"It is all worth it!!!!"

"Take the time to take good care of yourself and get a lot of rest. There's a lot happening to/in your body and it does take it's toll on you. The better rested you are and physically fit, the faster you'll bounce back to your old self after your delivery. It will also make it easier to adjust to life with your gorgeous new baby! Good luck and above all, have fun and enjoy!!"

"I enjoyed being pregnant but I always had fears in the back of my mind - would the baby be normal, is the baby moving, etc. To know that other women had similar fears would have helped.

About giving birth - I wasn't too worried about that because I figured that was only one day out of the whole pregnancy and my life. I knew I could get through that and just prayed the baby would be all right."

"When I got pregnant I always referred to it as `we are pregnant'. My husband was at all 3 deliveries; it's really helpful having caring people around at that time. Since we knew we wouldn't have more than 3 children we didn't settle for the routine delivery methods. Although we did go to the hospital each time, I feel that our wants, needs and desires were met. I do tell mom's-to-be that having a baby does hurt but after the pain you have a baby! Husbands- remember your wife doesn't always have a baby so she won't always act like she does during labor."

"Enjoy every day of being pregnant to the fullest! I'm now pregnant with my second (after seventeen months with my daughter) and it's great! Wear those maternity clothes and BE PROUD! Giving birth is also a wonderful experience. No two are the same and each individual's feelings are different. Don't listen to those horror stories. Your birth is yours. It's hard to say enjoy it, but once you've given birth (as I have) you may just want to keep doing it."

"When you are pregnant - PAMPER YOURSELF. Take a break and put your feet up. Go to bed early. Take good care of yourself - eat well, don't drink alcohol, and quit smoking. You are doing an important job! Enjoy your pregnancy - you are participating in a miracle. When it's time to give birth - remember some advice friends gave me. Labor and delivery is no picnic but go to classes and learn your breathing techniques. Concentrate on these. I was told, `Keep your mind on the prize'. It sure helped when things got tough. My husband commented that if things were so terrible in labor and delivery everyone would have only one child. He was right. There is no feeling in the world like seeing your child for the first time. Morning sickness, swollen feet and labor pains quickly fade when that beautiful little face looks at you and you know you are a parent!"

"Those last couple months seem like forever. They will end. Suddenly the big day comes -labor begins. It may be the hardest work you ever do in your life - it is the start of the most worthwhile job anyone can do - raising your children well, I think, is the most important job you can do. Sadly, it seems undervalued in our culture, which revolves around money. We do it anyway and hope someday the media and rest of the country and government will wake up and give us a break."

"Relax and enjoy both experiences - they are very powerful events in your life. If possible, take a class early in your pregnancy to be more prepared for the changes in yourself. A childbirth preparation course is a must. Taking these classes with your significant other helps build your relationship and gets him involved with what's going on with your body and yourself. His support and involvement through the process is very special and important. There is nothing to describe that magical moment when you both see and hold the new life you created. As you go through childbirth remember that and focus on that. Also don't try to be a hero but `go with the flow', trust your instincts and feelings, and be prepared (the classes are crucial to being informed and prepared for the childbirth experience)."

"Every pregnancy and birth is as different as the women themselves. Don't feel as though your mental attitude, health, and body will react just like your pregnant girlfriends, co-workers, sisters or even you own mothers pregnancy. Enjoy your own individuality - you have up to now - and take it one step at a time so as not to be overwhelmed."

"While all the reading we did and the classes we took were valuable, all we learned went out the window with complications and a C-section. Yet our daughter's birth was just as magical for us as a `normal' pregnancy and birth could be. My advice: Read all you can, but don't for a minute try to predict what it will be like, or how `it should' be. Your experience will be different in some or many ways from what you have studied and that's OK. Your baby's birth story is something incredibly unique that you will never forget and never tire of telling!"

"There is what you expect to happen during both pregnancy and labor, and then there is what happens. Our first born was a neat experience for us in the first 9 months. I love being pregnant, no problem. Labor was something else. We did the classes, we planned a birthing room experience, but the baby's heart rate dropped, I had a hard time pushing him through and thank God we were able to be rushed into labor and delivery. He is a happy healthy active 1 1/2 year old now.

Our second child we lost at 14 weeks into pregnancy. It was devastating for me in particular. I couldn't believe I had no control in that situation, but I'm okay with it now, with a lot of support.

My advice is to sleep as much as you can before baby arrives and sleep with them after. I loved waking up with him between us and no, I never rolled over on him. At 4 months he went into his own room and crib no problem, but it was easier for me to have him right there to nurse instead of getting up. I wouldn't trade the lost hours of sleep for anything. I love being a mom. DON'T DRINK DURING PREGNANCY."

"As precious as the gift of a child is, I would say enjoy your time alone and as a couple. Once the baby is born, life changes in so many ways and especially if you are at home with the baby. Your time is never really yours again. Enjoy your pregnancy and let yourself be pampered, loved and cherished! The giving birth part is hard for a small time compared to the raising baby part of parenthood!"

"Know as much as you can about anything that might unexpectedly happen - C-sections, medicating for pain, effects of high blood pressure, etc. Don't be afraid to ask questions (if you have the energy!) It's important to know what's happening and why. There are usually plenty of nurses if not a doctor who can answer your questions. Keep your husband/coach by you at all times. They're the ones that keep you going. Seeing that person's face at your bedside makes it all seem a little easier."

"If it's an `easy' pregnancy (no morning sickness, no bladder problems, no backache or swollen feet), rejoice in the experience and treasure each day. If it's a `difficult' pregnancy (all or any of the above) remember it will be over soon, and the joy of having created and nurtured a human life will make it all worthwhile.

About the birth experience - don't underrate it. It's probably the most challenging, exciting and difficult endeavor you will ever face. It too, will be over soon. And.... it's always more miraculous in retrospect!!!"

"If you must have a C-Section for your first child that doesn't mean your second birth must also be a C-Section. With my first baby I had every problem imaginable. And after the baby was born I had a staph infection, I was sick for 2 months. So when I found out I was expecting again I was scared. But I also was determined to have this baby naturally. With help from my doctor and my husband I had an easy labor and delivery. I felt I had made a miracle. We had not planned on having our children so close together, but now I'm glad. If we had waited I may not have wanted to go through `all that' again."

"I have two children - one girl 2 1/2, one boy 8 months. Each pregnancy was different, and likewise each delivery. My boy was delivered cesarian after going through labor and finding out he wouldn't go through! I feel the best advice is to get out for a 45 minute walk 5 days a week and go to every class pertinent to the situation of birthing. Be Prepared! As the boy scouts say. Being informed and asking questions makes the whole experience that much better."

"Keep a journal about your pregnancy and childbirth experience. The hopes, anxieties and thrills of this wonderful time in your life fade quickly."

"First and foremost, stay healthy, take care of yourself and listen to your doctor. Secondly, your pregnancy is different from somebody else's and all the advice you receive may have worked for them, but not necessarily for you. So use your own common sense, your doctor's advice and what feels right for you.

Lastly, labor is painful and a lot of work, but remember that it's a pain resulting in something wonderful. You can tolerate anything for those hours and there are resources (internal and external) that can help you through it. The effort is well worth it!"

"A friend shared her attitude about her upcoming delivery with me and I found it helped me put labor into perspective a little. Looking at it from the benefit of having gone through it once already, she said that she told herself that when the day came, the labor and delivery were just what she would have to do that day, much like you think about other large tasks. I liked that way of looking at it because you could pretty well assume that it would all be over in 24 hours and you finally have that baby in your arms!"

"On being pregnant - stay in shape. Walk! I walked at least 2 mile per day, and swam laps. Swimming is great - you feel light in the water!

Eat right. Avoid sugar, junk food - this does not benefit the baby at all. By the time you get in the daily requirements the doctor recommends, you don't have any room for junk food!

Giving birth - think positive - be determined - be prepared - attend class and read about this process."

"Don't let your delivery happen to you. Be involved in the decisions made which effect you, such as small things like whether you want to be walking or lying on your back, or large issues like drugs. You really can have more control than traditionally given by health care providers. Ask questions before hand of your doctor or mid-wife. Tour the hospital or facility where you will deliver. Understand your choices in advance as much as possible so you don't have to be faced with too many under pressure during delivery. You can make it as positive an experience as possible by becoming an involved patient. It makes for better memories of your birthing experience as well."

"Do your Kegel exercises. Read up on it, take childbirth classes and talk with friends and family."

"Relax and enjoy it (the pregnancy) - it really is an awesome, miraculous and wonderful experience. And do talk to your baby lots - it feels kind of silly, especially since you have no idea yet `who' you're talking to, but I'm convinced it has a positive effect - especially for Dad.

My daughter was born C-Section and because of post-op procedures and the pain killers I was on, I saw very little of her for several hours after she was born, and then misunderstood and thought I had to return her to the nursery unless I was actively nursing her. All this by way of reassuring that it's true that it doesn't matter how your baby is born, bonding does happen, so don't get worried or feel let down if your birth experience isn't the way you thought it would be. (Also, one very positive side effect of this was that my husband got to spend more time with our daughter right away than I did so he got to bond very quickly and strongly, which delighted me.)"

"Read! Read! Read! There are many good publications that cover a variety of what can be expected in an ordinary or other pregnancy.

One more specific idea for those mothers thinking about breast feeding is the critical importance of drinking water. Have ready an 8 oz. glass each time you sit down to feed, and drink a glass when you wake up and before you go to bed."

"We spend so much time preparing for the baby that sometimes we forget ourselves. Pamper yourself. Manicure and pedicure (when you can't reach your own toes anymore!) Have your hair done even if you don't need a cut, just have it washed and dried. My face broke out horrible while I was pregnant and a facial felt terrific."

"Prioritize all the things in your life - most important to least important, with yours and your baby's health and emotional well-being at the top. Drop things that are too stressful in your life - just for now, at least. You don't need them clouding the picture. Pregnancy and birth are processes - not products - and can no more be controlled and governed than can the weather. Go along for the ride and trust your body to do what it must. Don't berate yourself for any of the following: 1) gaining too much weight, 2) having a less than ideal delivery, labor, etc., 3) becoming an emotional time bomb for 9+ months, 4) being selfish about your time, energy, and focus. Do let yourself enjoy the following: 1) extra loving attention and pampering, especially in those last months of pregnancy, 2) long nights of blissful, unbroken sleep, 3) attention during your hospital stay after giving birth.

As for the actual labor/delivery, as long and hard as yours may be and as much as it may or may not hurt, try to envision the moments as brief, in relation to your whole life. It's no wonder, after giving birth and experiencing life with a constantly growing and changing new individual that many parents knowingly and willingly go through the whole thing again."

"Remember, a pregnancy only lasts for nine months - so work as hard as you can to bring a healthy baby into the world, including making any sacrifices that must be made. Being diabetic, my last pregnancy was a real challenge - constant self-monitoring, frequent trips to the doctors office, and endless worry about the state of my baby's health. I was blessed with a healthy baby, who is now a toddler giving me plenty of other things to worry about - fortunately, his health isn't one of them!"

"Take the time to sleep extra. It makes a huge difference. Find out all you can about pregnancy, delivery, etc., and make sure things are done the way YOU want them to be - It's your baby!"

"My advice to pregnant moms: Get used to being and socializing with other couples with kids. After the baby comes your relationships with single people and childless couples will change and not be quite as rewarding."

"Pregnancy and labor were nasty, brutish and long. Be sure your caregiver knows what you want - then be assertive about insisting on it. Discuss your preferences with your partner or labor coach. He or she can be your advocate when you're too tired or in too much pain to speak for yourself. Remember that birth is only one day. You've been bringing this child into the world for 9 months."

"Think through what kind of birth experience you want and discuss it with your doctor/nurse midwife. Be assertive about making sure your desires are followed in the hospital during your labor and delivery. Allow for some private family time following the birth with your spouse and baby before calling other family and friends. The news can wait but you can never re-live the special first months."

( What advice would you most like to give about experiencing life with a new baby?"
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Questions and Answers Index.