My son will be born within the next few weeks. As first time parents, hubby and I are super excited but also nervous. We've done tons of research (thanks to this group for many helpful links!) but I guess you can never feel completely prepared. Any last minute advice or encouraging words from fellow secular parents?! :-)

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Thanks for such a thoughtful and encouraging comment! :-) I'm sure the religion issue will come up pretty quickly for us as he grows, considering my fundamentalist, evangelical family. They do not know that the hubby and I are atheists so it should get interesting when our son says something that doesn't line up with their beliefs.

 

I am very much looking forward to watching him learn about the world around him while forming his own philosophy and opinions...and I'm excited to be a part of that.

Congrats on the baby boy! Will you have him circumcised? Just curious...

My husband and I actually weren't fully aware that we were atheists until a while after our first child was born. We had to face it head on when my husband's minister father kept asking when we were going to do the baptism. That was all very unpleasant but at least everyone knows now and we didn't go through with something we don't believe in.

Oh, and sleep and have sex now while you still can! ;) hahahaha
Lots of love and attention is the plan. :)

1) Enjoy the ride.  2) Whatever works for you and your child works for you and your child. So don't worry too much about all the advice you will be given.  3) You'll be fine - Just remember to sleep when your baby sleeps and don't worry about all the other stuff you aren't getting done for the first few months.  

 

Oh - and The Happiest Baby on the Block was a lifesaver for us.  Completely saved our sanity.

I haven't heard of The Happiest Baby on the Block. Off to Google it. :-) Thanks for the tips!
I just wanted to wish you, your partner and the Little One all the best! Lots of warm greetings from cold Sweden!
Thank you! :-)
It's really hard to know what to say to this – some people want to know the truth as other see it – and others would rather be in the dark about some things. I’ll take it that you would rather know, seeing as how you are asking.

For me giving birth to a baby was very similar to loosing my virginity. If I’d have known how painful it would have been I might have chosen not to do it. But on the other hand the drive to do it and the amazing feelings you get from doing it, are most defiantly worth all the pain.

Really regarding the birth – your experience of that very much depends on what sort of birth you have arranged to have and the sort of help and assistance you have arranged.

Giving birth historically has been a life and death situation. I don’t know the states – but I believe in the past most of the women that did die in child birth was due to bleeding after the birth. This just doesn’t happen any more if you are in or near a hospital. And if there are any problems with the baby being stuck – they seem in the UK, Australia and New Zealand at least – to just do a c section – just to make sure. Which is great – because it means that both mother and child survive.

This can be upsetting for mothers at the time, because it wasn’t what they had planned. More so for mothers who wanted a more natural birth.

I would say that if you have intervention – in the form of pain killers – the more the pain killers the more likelihood of having a c section.

The best thing to do in preparation for the birth IMO is to have a plan – but don’t expect to follow it. If you can, choose the people you are most trusting – midwife / obstetrician etc… and then plan to totally trust them in the process. Personally I went with fully midwifery care and wanted a water birth without intervention. I was luck, as all 3 of my full term births were spontaneous and without any intervention in the water. But if events had been different – and I needed c section or other intervention – then I would have been just happy that baby and I survived. I really think that’s what most people want.

Being in labour is really intense. It’s like a period pain that gets stronger and stronger until it feels unbearable – this is usually the point they call transition – when you feel like you can’t stand it any more and just wish it would all stop and go away – that’s usually a sign that you are just about ready to start pushing baby out. By the time my 3rd baby came along – I knew the pushing was about to start and I felt better, because I knew it was nearly all over and baby was on its way.

Fear I think is your worst enemy with birthing. For me, knowing the process is much better because it reduces the fear.

I’m not sure how much you know about the birth process – but I’ll go through it briefly. The cervix softens until it reaches 10 cm dilated – this feels like a wurring period pain that increases in intensity every time you get a contraction. If you go natural, your body’s natural pain killers will kick in slowly. I usually take a bath in the dark or with candles and lavender – until I can’t handle laying down any more. Baby needs gravity to get out. Then I stoop, leaning over a bench or table, I usually carry a pillow around with me to lay on, as I hum through each contraction.

As it gets more and more intense, standing up and rotating hips around or back and forth actually helps baby come down the birth canal. Just very gently. I did this with my 3rd and it was almost pain free – I was amazed. The first one I was terrified to push and so coped a lot of pain. If you totally follow your feeling your body will do it for you. it’s only the fear and holding back that caused me more pain. Don’t take a breath in the middle of a pushing contraction – just push as hard as you can – IMO – I just want to get baby out. An experienced midwife, can help you not to tear, and she can help you to hold off pushing slightly as you crown – the baby’s head coming out of virgina entrance.

So cervics softening – to 10 cm – then baby has to come down birth canal – this is called transition – and gentle rocking of hips and slight pushing can help – it’s about following your feeling – and being really gentle about it. Transition is the point where you feel like going home because you’d rather die that carry on. when you get to this point – be aware the pushing is just about to happen, and it’s very soon going to be over – and you are going to feel the amazing joy that overwhelms a new mother – the euphoria that lasts for hours, and the shock and ore that lasts for months and months and then years…. It’s well worth all the effort.

Your body will push on it’s own – pushing contractions are like having a pooh – but way stronger – and if you don’t push with them – they hurt more. When you’re pushing as hard as you can, the pain can almost go away. I wonder if it’s natures way of helping do what is necessary. I’ve had to push as hard as I can to get all my 3 full term babies born – I mean as hard as I can. That’s why many mums get hernias. You will also empty your bowel – which is expected but can be embarrassing for a first time mum – especially if she isn’t warned.

It’s a very primal instinct – giving birth. If you can get into naturally driven sex without inhibition – birth will be easier for you – but honestly – I am quite a shy and inhibited person – but after being in labour and all those natural pain killers running around me, I didn’t really notice who was in the room any more – and just took off all my clothes and got into the bath – all worry about who was looking was a side show, compared with what I was going through – so don’t worry about feeling embarrassed or inhibited – I will probably be the last thing you are concerned about at the time.

Much is talked about of the birth, and the after birth isn’t really given the time – when the birth is such a short time and then you’ll have a baby.

After giving birth you have no stomach musles for a few days until they tighten up again – so it will be hard to walk or move about. Plan to stay resting for 2 – 6 weeks after the birth. Plan to get others to cook for you and do all your washing and shopping. Take the help – don’t feel shy – get all the help you can find.

After giving birth, you and your partner will be over joyed with your new bundle and you’ll just want to look at your baby all the time – it’s amazing. It’s a great feeling. You give birth to the placenta after – some people get an injection to help – I didn’t. I just pushed it out. I found squatting helped that if you can get some help to get into that position. You’ll probably be so exhausted after the birth that you’ll not be able to move much. Also you can be quite saw around your bottom – with the pressure and all the blood. It might not seem that you’ll ever be the same again after the birth – but you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll be good as new again – give yourself 6 weeks – 3 months and you’ll start to get your body back again to how it was – breast feeding is a great way to do this also – as well as giving baby a good start.

Having baby skin to skin straight after the birth and offering the breast is also a great way to establish the breastfeeding relationship and bonding between mother and baby.

It is very overwhelming becoming a mother for the first time. you’ll have baby 24/7 – and you’ll want to have baby 24/7. it’s really tough at times, but I’m sure within a year or two you’ll be gagging for another one – they are just so adorable and cute.

After the birth you womb continues to contract down back to its normal size. This happens over about 3 days – and is often triggered by the same hormones that push out the breastmilk. So you’ll find that breastfeeding brings on contractions. This is something to endure for the first few days – and your partner and family will need to be really emotionally supportive at this time – you are probably at your most vulnerable that you’ve ever felt in your life – having loving family around is essential. It’s in the middle of the night when feeding baby and having a contraction that can feel really lonely and intense and overwhelming.

As you go on, breastfeeding can have it’s ups and downs, but once you’ve had a few weeks practice, most mums find it an amazing and joyful experience, as it releases great happy hormones also.

If you have any depression – think about getting your needs met. You’ve got new needs now, and might not be used to asking for some much support from others. the best way to stave off depression is to get and accept as much support love and help as possible. Don’t feel guilty, just suck it up and offer your honest and genuine thanks for the help – that’s enough for most people – especially when they know what it’s like to have a baby.

Get into a good breastfeeding help group for small problems that might come up – cracked nipples, thrush, blocks ducts, mastitis etc… they are all things that can be over come and in the long run it is a great way to feed your baby.

Be prepared for not having a lot of sleep. I found it best when I surrender to not getting sleep. don’t expect yourself to do anything. If you can get through the day, change baby’s nappy, feed baby and feed and wash yourself and baby you are doing really well. If you have a visitor ask them to vacuum, wash dishes and hold baby if you’re comfortable with that – or just sit with baby and get them to do all the chores and make you some thing to eat. If they don’t do it, tell them you’re busy – and invite some one over who is willing to help – some friends you don’t need once you’ve had a baby.

Let me know how you go and if you’d like any more tips in this style.

All the best, Alice : )
Wow, thanks so much for the information. It was nice of you to take the time to be so specific and informative. I am a bit nervous about the labor and delivery, but I'm sure it will all be worth it when I hold him in my arms and at least now I know more about what to expect. :-)

It’s always the hardest the first time with anything.  The birth is intense, but you can handle it – think of all your mothers and grand mothers and great-grand mothers…  I found humming or singing helped me during contractions – also a bath early on – then pillow to lay on whilst standing and leaning on benches whilst gently rocking hips, then back into bath or shower – if you end up on the toilet, they might want to move you so baby isn’t born in there – know that transition is when you feel like going home – but it’s an indication that you’re about to start pushing – this is when you do your hip rocking to get baby moving down - don’t be afraid to push – go with it – it might feel scary – but it’s how it’s meant to happen and all is well – you want to get baby out.  You’ll be a star – giving birth is one of those situations that everyone does really well : )  I've not met a mum yet who flunked it! : )

This was very nice of you to write, Alice. You are a very kind person.

That's a lovely story Mimmon - I've got a nice story like that for my second birth - spending time with my older boy building pebble stacks in the river bed - then hearing a familier sound of pop and feeling all the water coming...  LOL : )

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