1. No activity for mom whatsoever for two weeks postpartum (even walking should be limited to a block or two) to heal properly.
"I had an uncomplicated delivery but did have an episiotomy and following this suggestion really seemed to have an impact. I healed perfectly and had very little bleeding. That being said, I was very lucky to have my husband home with me that full two weeks, a very helpful mother in law and a post partum doula who came two times a week for four hours so I didn't have to get off the couch or out of bed for anything except to go to the bathroom, making this a reasonable suggestion to follow."
2. There's no need to sterilize things, including bottles.
"The instructor told us this and our pediatrician confirmed. Soap and warm water are fine, as is using the dishwasher! Helloooo sanity and time saving."
"My advice to your friend would be to try hypnobirthing. You can download the audio and get the book online. I found it incredibly helpful - had an extremely smooth labor with no drugs and I think the hypnobirthing played a large part in that. It’s possible to do hypnobirthing classes but for me I found the audio and book we’re fine."
Related PSP reading: birthing affirmations based on hypnobirthing techniques >
4. Do your homework: read up and learn about the actual birthing process
"For me, it was hearing how things might progress from early labor all the way through. Also, the poses to get through contractions, which I used before I got to the hospital."
"I'd say I got through my entire (challenging in some ways, but positive on the whole) birth using this birth and my doula. The number one takeaway I got from the book is that to manage your pain, you need to be "bigger" than it - ie, do something with your voice or body that overwhelms the pain sensation. For me, that was singing and banging stress balls together, for others, it might be shouting, stomping, or visualization. Prior to reading the book a couple of days before I went into labor, I was planning to try to "relax" through my contractions. And that would not have worked for me at all!"
"I’d also suggest that she get her partner to read up about the birth experience and how they can best support. I think this made a really big difference for us. There’s a book by Simpkin which I think is called The Birth Partner and it’s supposed to be very good."
5. Figure out when to latch
"The most valuable things I learned were from the breastfeeding class I took at NYU before my birth — it made troubleshooting the first feed and getting started soooo much easier. I knew what to look for and how to increase my chances of a successful latch. So much I didn't know I didn't know! The videos helped me most - many visual examples on this site."
6. Plan how to advocate for yourself
"For me—the discussions on how to empower yourself through the experience would be the biggest thing. Some hospital staff are just going through the motions (it might be baby #2,345 for them) and it’s important that folks advocate (sometimes strongly) for themselves/their partners. Most classes AT the hospital won’t push that."
7. Here was what WAS helpful:
" + Really understanding exactly how the baby would come out. I had an epidural after being strapped to a bed for two days, so when it came time to push, I was able to visualize what was happening and what I needed to do since I couldn't feel everything that was happening
+ How an epidural is inserted and that it's super-routine and super-safe
+ That you need a plan for what happens immediately after the birth. Designate someone to get you food! :-) We also had to send someone to request a private room, so it was good to have that all planned out
The thing I either didn't hear in class or wasn't covered:
+ That once the head was out, the "pressure" would be intense and without a break--I was really taken off guard when this happened and think if I'd been able to visualize it happening before, it would've been less traumatic
And the two best things I learned from my doula before the birth:
+ You can't control how your birth goes, but you can control how you respond
+ The day your milk comes in (~5 days after birth) is the most intense, hormone-wise, and the crying is part of that process and is totally normal
The midwives teaching our class said just remember to breathe and keep a positive attitude and everything will be fine. They also recommended creating a birth plan with your preferences. Also, keep your sense of humor!
Honestly other than those gems the rest of the class was kind of a waste."
8. Ask about a private room right away
Assuming she is in NYC, if she wants a private room, she needs to have her partner check in for one right when they arrive!!!
Related PSP tips: Advice to Remember About Your Hospital Stay
Useful reading on PSP