Why I'm Tired of the Unsolicited "Just Wait Until" Parenting Tips

What ever happened to the old adage that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all?

I’m pregnant. Let the “just wait until” statements begin.

Let me preface this with a few things: I understand that for the most part, people mean well. So usually these “let me warn you” statements are intended to either commiserate slightly over the difficulties that all parents go through, or to give you a friendly bit of advice over what you can come to expect.

Also, while I am an experienced aunt, I’ve only been a mother to a wonderful baby boy for 10 months (my second is scheduled to join us in just three more months) so I understand that I’m no veteran and that perhaps all the things to come in motherhood will sour me a little more. Perhaps, a few years from now, I’ll be more prone to making such statements myself (but if you knew me, you’d agree: that’s not a likely scenario).

Now let me say this, none of those things are enough to convince me that the overwhelming presence of negative rather than positive feedback should be the norm. What ever happened to the old adage that if you don’t have anything good to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all? Why is it that almost everyone’s go-to reaction is one with a negative tone?

Examples of the statements that I’m talking about:

You’re pregnant? Oh, just wait until the mood swings really kick in and you can’t keep it together. Just wait until you’re so big that you have to waddle. Just wait until the very end of your pregnancy when you’re uncomfortable all the time.

You can’t sleep because you’re so pregnant? Oh, just wait until the baby comes and then you’ll see what real lack of sleep is. (This one makes another appearance in round two because, apparently, you don’t know what sleep deprivation is until you have two kids).

You just had a baby? Oh, just wait until he is over the newborn phase and doesn’t sleep all the time. Just wait until she’s teething. Just wait until he’s crawling. Just wait until she’s walking. Just wait until he’s talking. Just wait until the terrible twos. Just wait until it’s impossible to feed her because she refuses everything you give her. Just wait until he’s in school and bringing home all kinds of germs and you’re all miserable from being sick. Just wait until she’s seven or eight and has an attitude already. Just wait until the dreaded teenage years.

Now, let’s agree that parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard. You may be a postpartum mom whose hormones have turned you into some crazy version of the person you used to be and you barely recognize yourself while you’re supposed to be overjoyed at the presence of your new little angel. Meanwhile, you’re just impressed with yourself if you got through an entire day without crying.

You worry about this tiny little person from their first cold to the first bump on their head, skinned knee, bite from another child at the park, broken bone, broken heart, the list goes on and on. If I spent all my time dreading the “wait untils” or worrying about the next difficult thing around the corner, when would I have time to enjoy all the wonderful, amazing, incredible things that a child brings to a parent’s life?

That being said, I am under no illusions. I fully understand that no matter how much I love them, my children will test me endlessly and will, on numerous occasions, push me to the brink of my sanity. However, isn’t that part of the process? Often the most worthwhile and rewarding things in life are the most difficult. Life isn’t always easy, so it should come as no surprise that parenting isn’t either.

To those few people who’ve talked pregnancy or parenting with me, and said things such as, “How wonderful for you,” “That’s great,” “Enjoy every moment of it, it’s a really special time,” “My favourite age is x, they’re so fun at that time,” and simply left it at that – thank you. Thank you for the positivity. Thank you for leaving it at that.

These sentiments seem so few and far between that, while people generally give off statements of “I’m happy for you,” it’s typically followed with that incessant “But just wait until” that makes me cringe on the inside. Can’t we just be happy for people and leave it that? No? Maybe? Let’s just try it and see what happens.

You’re pregnant? That’s awesome! What an exciting time, I’m happy for you.

You’re nearing the end of your pregnancy? Great! Best of luck with labor and delivery. I truly hope all goes smoothly for you and I’m excited that your new little bundle will be in your arms shortly.

You just had a baby? Wow! How wonderful! I hope that the whole family is doing well. I am so happy for you during this special time with a new little person to help fill your home with love.

Your little one is now walking? Aww, I love when they reach special new milestones. It’s great to see the little ones walking (or running) around discovering things at their own pace.

You’re pregnant with your second baby? Woohoo! A sibling for your son (or daughter) and another beautiful little person to add to a home just bursting with love! (Third, fourth, or fifth pregnancy? The sentiment carries on, as well as: Good on you, not everyone is brave enough for a big family!)

Personally, I’ve found that those who leave you with a purely positive comment are few and far between, so much so that I’ve truly come to cherish those interactions. I also believe that most don’t even realize the negative tone that they give off in their comments.

We can endeavor to change that. Let’s be more mindful of the things that we say to parents who can (and should) be reveling in the joys that child-rearing brings. For the undeniably tough moments that come with it, hang in there. I can guarantee that you’re not the only one to feel that struggle. Worry not, you can get through it.

What so often works for me when I need to reset is to look into the beautiful, innocent eyes of that tiny little person and let the love just wash over me for a moment. He has so much life yet to come and his possibilities are endless. It’s a wonderful thing to be in the presence of. Life often pushes us to forget that – just don’t let it.

The Pregnancy Post to End All Pregnancy Posts

For the first time in my online adult life, I was experiencing something privately without making a show of it and without needing to know if anyone noticed or liked me experiencing it.

In January of 2016, I decided to stop checking my social media like an insatiable fiend. I’m a performer and storytelling teacher. Social media had always been a simple way of letting people know what I have going on. I’d grown accustomed to waking up every morning to see the who, what, and where of my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr on the hour every hour.

Who liked that Janet Jackson video I posted? How many people favorited that picture of my hair looking weird? How many people are “interested” versus “coming” to my comedy show? Why don’t more people love that Janet Jackson video? After a particularly non-productive but heavily media-filled morning of scrolling, scrolling, clicking, and scrolling some more, I wondered aloud, “What am I looking for?”

I didn’t know the answer, which was a little disconcerting. I decided to approach social media with a healthier sense of self-control and detachment. I moved the app icons from the first page of my iPhone screen. I stopped posting every other thought about Whole Foods, celebrity hairstyles, and inclement weather. I took pictures without the intention of sharing them with anyone. When I was curious about a friend, I texted them. When I did post, I made it as specific and purposeful as possible.

Very soon, I was only posting about haircuts I gave to friends and shows I was performing in. When I waited in line at the post office or supermarket, I waited like we all used to: without checking in with who was online. I started to live my life without posting my life and, needless to say, I felt more present and less busy.

Then I got pregnant. Well, I have to post something, I thought.

Impending motherhood is a big deal, but the rule still applied. If I was going to post a pregnancy post it had to have a purpose. I wanted it to be the best pregnancy post social media had ever seen. I would be loathe to post another “bun in the oven” status or a picture of my husband and I sticking out our respective bellies to tell everyone “the good news!”

Those posts had been posted before. I would not add to the cacophony of joy by doing what had been done. Perhaps I was making too big of a deal of something that I knew was a perfectly ordinary everyday miracle, but I wanted my pregnancy post to be the pregnancy post to end all pregnancy posts. Original, memorable, and hilarious.

The first trimester ended and still I didn’t post anything. I host a weekly storytelling show where I talked about my pregnancy since I was only three weeks in. I wasn’t afraid to share the developing news there, but I couldn’t think of a way to announce my pregnancy online that was groundbreaking enough for my performing ego.

In the second trimester, I thought it might be a good thing I hadn’t posted because, what if the baby died? I was 35 and every doctor and article seemed to relish telling me that I was “at risk” because I had “waited so long.” I did not want to see a bunch of sad yellow faces with tears pop up on Facebook if I posted about a miscarriage. After all, courageous and heartfelt miscarriage posts had been done before. If I was going to post, it had to be with original creative content. I was drawing a blank.

I ran into my friend and fellow writer, Kate, and she completely understood my posting dilemma. She told me that she had stopped Facebooking for a while but wanted to start up again and was unsure how to do it. She joked that maybe she should just wait until she had an engagement, wedding, baby, and a book deal to post about in one big braggy status. It felt good to know that I wasn’t alone in my quest for wow-factor posts.

I batted around a few ideas involving the Summer Olympics as well as Janet Jackson also being pregnant, but no phrasing felt quite unique enough. In desperate moments, I berated myself for even considering posting a selfie in a mirror with no caption so that the picture would speak for itself. I’ve got to be better than that! Where’s the wit? Where’s the originality?

Late in the second trimester, I thought that I should just wait a few more weeks until the third trimester when I planned on having a glass of red wine for the first time in my pregnancy. Then I could post a funny and beautiful picture of myself toasting my belly with a bottle of wine, “Happy Third Trimester!”

Then the third trimester came and not only could I not stomach the idea of having a drink but the idea of toasting my pregnant belly was no longer funny to me. Really, Julia? You wait six months to make an alcohol joke? Maybe you aren’t as funny as you think you are. Maybe pregnancy has made you dumb. Stop crying you unfunny, unoriginal, pregnant dummy.

Then, naturally, I had the baby. It was an incredible experience. A home birth no less. It was so fast the midwife almost missed it and my husband almost had to deliver the baby himself. I birthed a live human being in my dirty bathtub in my apartment in all the glory of womanhood and she was the cutest, most adorable child who looked just like my husband without a beard (who coincidentally looks like the Gerber baby with a beard). Now, surely I will post something!

But I didn’t. As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and all I did was take care of a newborn, part of me wondered if I was scared. Was I unwilling to accept this new role as a mother and so was using the desire to create a meteorically special online baby announcement as an excuse?

I expressed these fears to a friend and she showed me an article about how Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did not share her pregnancy because she did not want to “perform” her pregnancy. It suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t need to either.

As a performer, social media was not just a way to connect but another way for me to perform. Before I decided to take a step back, every post was curated for optimum attention from an online audience. The more likes, shares, and retweets I got, the more I wanted. It was never enough.

For the first time in my online adult life, I was experiencing something privately without making a show of it and without needing to know if anyone noticed or liked me experiencing it. It took me almost a year to realize that the answer to the question “What am I looking for?” was simply this: attention.

Posting something original was never the problem. The problem was always my inevitable unhealthy reaction to the reaction of the post. My self-worth was wrapped up in my online profile and it was not dependable. I’d inadvertently curbed the need for others’ attention right when my attention was shifting to something entirely outside of myself.

There is nothing inherently wrong with posting your life and your babies on social media, but I am hyper-aware that I have the capability to become a Joan Crawford and use my child to further perform through the internet. I love and like and favorite all of my friends’ baby posts because they are able to post without using their kids for self-involved attention-seeking. Or at least, they make it seem that way.

Friends will post pictures of my baby and sometimes she is visible at the edges of my posts, but she is never the sole subject of a status. I do not want to inadvertently put my needy ego on her. So I wait, patiently anticipating the inevitable day she asks for her own social media to perform her very own ego online. I hope I will have taught her not to need the attention too much.

Former Museum of Sex Curator Dishes on Getting Back to Gettin' Down Post Baby

It’s no wonder the day you get medical clearance to have sex again just a short six weeks after having a baby, it seems as daunting as climbing Kilimanjaro.

When I was heavily pregnant, oscillating between luxuriating in my new-found curves and feeling like a beetle perpetually stuck on its back, post-pregnancy sex was officially the last thing on my mind. Instead, my laser focus was on evicting this little person who stomped on my lungs, intestines, and bladder. Not to mention the equal parts fear and unbelievable happiness of impending motherhood. Sex got me into this situation, but it certainly wasn’t the forefront of my thoughts as D-Day approached.

As a first-time mom-to-be, I simply couldn’t understand post-pregnancy sex as a different proposition. Was it really going to be a thing? Wasn’t all this “daddy stitch” trash talk just language of women’s bodies once again being made about male pleasure? Could the natural act of having a baby really change my vagina and my relationship to sex that much? I was walking into the game, dubious, believing all the urban legends were simply the residue of anti-feminist, bad sitcom, sophomoric writing. My vagina was not going to be a punch line about throwing a hot dog down a hallway!

But at the same time, I also couldn’t say what it really would be like. Lumped in with an infinite list of things I was about to discover, my relationship to post-natal sexuality would be an evolving proposition, if not part smack in the face and part a reinvention of self.

While every page of “What to Expect When You are Expecting” was dog-eared, I don’t think I fully processed what the after-having-a-baby would imply, at least physically. My hospital bag was filled with menstrual pads, but while pregnant, I certainly didn’t absorb the full implications of that need. I was prepared for child birth to be painful, but I never gave much thought to what happens next. Wasn’t getting the baby out the totality of the physiological heavy lifting?

Certainly not. As nurses and doctors tossed around discussions of degrees of tearing in as blase a manner as conversations of the weather or what to eat for breakfast, I can tell you emphatically, for the vulvas being described, these are not everyday conversations. Not one little painful bit.

After my first child was born, every single muscle in my body hurt like I’d been hit by a truck. Not just one truck, more like an entire fleet. As I tried to move, ever so slowly, to my hospital bathroom, I experienced the incomparably humbling expedition of post-labor vaginal aftercare. The less-than-glamorous world of sitz baths, squirt bottles, and witch hazel hemorrhoid wipes. Some so delicately describe this elixir, sure to make you feel the height of sexy, as “crotch care.”

Immediately after that first birth, I couldn’t even contemplate having sex after what had just happened to my body – a body that in many ways I would need to reclaim, relearn, reteach, and have patience with in its healing.

Other than the mamas I met along the way, there was no practitioner walking me through how all of this messy knot of physical and emotional experiences was going to impact my sexuality. Six weeks post-baby, sitting in those stirrups, so few doctors are talking to us about post-baby sex – the perfectly normal and not normal alike.

One friend, after the birth of her second baby, bravely approached her doctor about a lack of sensation and was told: What did she expect? She was a mother of two. Never is this an acceptable response, nor an accurate one. A healed vagina or incision and a chat about contraceptive decisions is simply not enough to address a topic that is dangerously taboo. Too many women believe silently suffering is the new normal, and is in fact normal.

Woman pulling her shirt down to cover herself

When it’s a conversation that needs to be sought out, a conversation that’s sometimes awkward to have, it can feel like just another burden to prioritize ourselves, our intimate parts of the body, our sex lives, and our sexual sense of self. Especially when new mothers are already drowning in the emotionally-charged laundry list of having a newborn: exhaustion, figuring out this whole nursing thing (if that’s your chosen method), and a realization that your body doesn’t magically revert back to its pre-pregnancy self.

Combine this with wrestling with a new sense of self, a new way of relating to your partner, returning back to work or not (both are emotional), and the oppressive societal pressure of what motherhood perfection looks like, it’s no wonder that the day you get medical clearance to have sex again just a short six weeks after having a baby, it seems as daunting as climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Some of us will experience quite serious physical complications from birth, and will need to undergo physical therapy post-childbirth and even vaginal rehabilitation. A few friends’ vaginas tightened post-birth to such a degree that nothing was getting in there, making a good set of vaginal dilators and a competent physical therapist a sexual lifesaver.

Some of us will also be negotiating the psychological implications of what can be a traumatic event. For example, when my second child, a gigantic baby whose shoulders got stuck during her fast-and-furious two hour labor, her face turning every shade of purple and blue unimaginable in babies, there was so much more for me (and my partner) to emotionally unpack then when my first child had arrived without complication. While my body didn’t ache the way it did with my first, our collective emotions needed a little longer to heal for sexuality to reenter our union.

The sex we all have post-baby is a tapestry of all of those nuanced and personal experiences, and like a ice cream shop full of choices, each person has their own approach to having sex again after baby, whenever that may end up happening.

Of course, there are people who just want to get back at it, right away. Maybe they explored non-penetrative forms of sexuality up until this point, eager to get the green light for more, or maybe it’s the first go of their erotic selves meeting post-baby, making that first sexual encounter a wonderful act of reconnection.

For others, that green light is, in actuality, a lightening rod of anxiety.

Is it going to hurt? Am I going to enjoy it? It my partner going to enjoy it? Do I feel attractive in my post-baby body? Do I feel self conscious about my post-child vulva? (Even jokingly referring to your vagina as a “car wreck” probably isn’t going to internally make you feel sexy and confident.) As a mom, do I still feel sexy? Do I want to have sex for me or do I feel pressure because my partner wants to? Am I afraid he will stray if I don’t?

One friend, a mother of twins, was told by her post-natal nurse, “fathers of twins tend to cheat,” so she better jump back into bed. I simply can’t think of more aggressive “advice” to smack on a new mother. And with hormones doing crazy things to your sex drive, the desire simply may not be surfacing in the same way you were previously used to.

While it would be easy to divide the world into the “let’s jump back on the horse” mamas and the “stay the fuck away from me” mamas, many of us will philosophically float in between for that first time having sex after baby, as well as for the subsequent adventures. A reality of motherhood and sexuality (one I wished someone shared with me) is that sometimes I might experience intense chapters of each. A new tapestry is forming from the constant touching of little hands, evolving feelings about oneself, evolving feelings about your partner, and the fact the weight of motherhood doesn’t dust off just because the kids are asleep (though it would be so nice).

My six years of motherhood has given me a new perspective on my professional world, the anthropological study of sex, in a way I never could have predicted. Whether it is the first sex after baby or six years after baby, be open to the evolution of your sexuality.

Maybe your mind needs more time to wind down and relax, or maybe your body needs more time to get excited. Lubricant may become your new best friend. Maybe new things will become a turn on, maybe new fantasies can be incorporated, maybe it’s the catalyst to reinvent old rhythms, or maybe you and your partner can use this time to positively and proactively reset and sexually meet again.

Instead of the fear of so many unknowns, maybe that first sex after baby is the key to a whole new sex life.

12 Ways to Prepare for Motherhood So You Don't Totally Lose It

Here’s a list of things you can practice before you birth your baby so that you maintain a sense of self when you’re suddenly alone with a newborn all day.

Forget the nursery and sonogram appointments to prepare for the baby, you have to prepare to be a mommy! As much as we would like to believe we come equipped with natural motherhood as soon as the baby ejects itself from our bodies, we cannot possibly be completely aware of how to be a “mom.” Here’s a list of things that you can practice before you birth your baby so that you don’t go insane. It will also help maintain a sense of self when you’re suddenly alone with a newborn all day. (It’s not like you thought it would be, it’s more.)                                                       

1 | Perfect a quick and simple makeup routine that makes you look like you sleep regularly. Remember what it was like to be 22, hungover, and someone told you, “You look great!” and it made you feel like you were really nailing life because you hadn’t even gone to bed yet!? Wearing makeup after having a baby will provide that feeling again. The early days of a newborn feel like a beautiful hangover with all the emotions of being intoxicated, so if you’re able to put on your face, you’ll feel like a spritely 22-year-old who can party all night again.

2 | Learn how to crown braid your hair. It’s out of your face and it looks impressive and when you take it down it creates perfect beach waves. Again, impressive. People will be all, “How did you do that! You look stunning! You have a baby and amazing hair! You are incredible!” Plus, when your hair starts falling out a few months after you’ve given birth and you want to shave your head, a crown braid eliminates the opportunity for your baby to grab fistfuls of your shedding locks.

3 | Practice doing everything efficiently and with only one hand. Peeling hard boiled eggs, wiping yourself after you pee, brushing your teeth, washing your face, texting, typing, holding a book, putting on socks, and much, much more. You’ll want to be good at the one-handed everything before you don’t have a choice because you’re holding a baby. When it seems impossible – say when you’re peeling a carrot – just remember that your body made a baby, so you can do anything.

4 | Embrace eating everything with a spoon. It’s the only way to make sure the food successfully travels from plate to mouth without spilling on baby’s fuzzy head. Some food might look silly on a spoon, but you don’t want to introduce lasagna to your newborn just as she’s mastered latching onto your nipple.

5 | Accept that you will need help from people and you actually cannot do everything alone. This took me the whole of the nine months to realize and, once the baby was born, I had a little trouble when it seemed I could do nothing for myself in the first month and had to ask for help non-stop. “Pass me my phone, fill up my water glass, turn on that lamp, not that lamp, the other one. No, that one. I know, I have a lot of lamps! I like lamps!”

6 | Start saying exactly what is on your mind. Your husband or partner is going to say the wrong thing at two am when the baby is screaming and neither of you knows what to do. Tell them your feelings are hurt so you can have a little disagreement now instead of waiting and having a big argument later.

Also, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have some arguments. No one is immune to disagreements and it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have procreated with this person. You might think they’re overreacting when they insist on using a special kind of bamboo washcloth but, then again, you might be overreacting when you sit on the toilet, screaming, “I’m an inadequate human being!”

7 | Relish being slow. Everything is going to take longer than you thought it ever could once a baby is in your life. Practice reminding yourself that taking your time is necessary and attempting to move at your pre-pregnancy speed is just going to result in dropping things, like your baby.

Whether writing an email or getting to the doctor, take your time. This may result in more time spent in transit getting to those sonogram appointments. Then again, when was the last time you stopped rushing around and simply enjoyed the journey?

8 | Talk to yourself. Every other week there is an article about how good it is to talk to your baby. Trouble is, babies don’t say much in response beyond gurgles and coos. However, if you are comfortable talking to yourself, you can get things done. That novel you’ve been meaning to write? Dictate it. The podcast you’ve imagined hosting? Record it. A voice-over career voicing cartoon characters? Start it.

Before the baby comes you’ll be glad you got so much done. Once the baby arrives you’ll be comfortable talking to a little human who doesn’t respond with words.

9 | Make up songs. Babies love music and, of course, you could just bone up on the lyrics to all your favorite songs or just turn on your iTunes, but getting comfortable improvising songs will keep your brain active. Bonus: you’ll feel like a creative genius when you haven’t slept and come up with an impromptu song rhyming “cheeks” and “bespeaks.”

10 | When you cook, pretend you are on Cutthroat Kitchen. Ingredients you have in your fridge will vary widely due to the very occasional trips to the supermarket once the baby is born. Challenge yourself to imagine what you would do with one wrinkled red pepper, ¼ of an onion, two old lemons, a little yogurt, and the end of a banana bread someone made for you. If you imagined ordering takeout, you are correct!

Still, if you are lucky enough to be able to stay home with the baby while your partner works, you may feel the desire to pretend you are a 1950s housewife who can take care of a baby and have dinner on the table when your partner comes home. The time you have in between breastfeeding and baby crying to be held will be limited and sporadic, so creativity with ingredients and timing are good things to practice now.

11 | Start wearing post-pregnancy clothing before you tell people you are pregnant so that it doesn’t look like you have given up your style in exchange for a family. Leggings and oversized shirts were good enough for you when your body was going through puberty in the 90s and they can work for you again as you learn to love your expanded womanly life-giving form. Make sure you show off that cleavage with low cut tops now so that you can enjoy the seamless transition to pulling out a boob to feed your child later.

12 | Lastly, practice not judging other women. You’ll find it is a useless waste of time when you end up doing the thing you balked at for years. Case in point: prior to getting pregnant, natural home birth was “gross and insane,” cribs took up too much space, and having “Mom” friends was unnecessary. Naturally, I gave birth to my baby in my apartment’s tiny tub, bought a crib, and love every Mommy Group I can find.

Ultimately, we must practice patience with ourselves and with the mothers in our lives as we turn into mothers. Moms say weird things. Practice nodding and saying thank you. You are about to join their club and they’re excited for you. And guess what? You’re going to say weird things eventually too.

Study Claims Epidurals Don’t Slow Labor

A recent study by Obstetrics and Genecology debunks the idea that an epidural prolongs labor.

The birth plan. We research, we ask questions, we pry into our friend’s memories – we do it all for the sake of having that perfect birth. For both first-time and veteran mothers, the idea of creating the ideal birth can be daunting and overwhelming. There is no such thing as a textbook delivery. And as we know, sometimes a mother’s body does not cooperate with the well-plotted birthing strategy.
Abstaining from an epidural can be an integral part of the mapwork towards the final destination – our own idyllic birth story. A mother may want to increase her chances of a natural childbirth, and like the midwife guru Ina May Gaskin says, “When avoidance of pain becomes the major emphasis of childbirth care, the paradoxical effect is that more women have to deal with pain after their babies are born.” Essentially, many women become afraid that if they get an epidural their birth will end in a cesarean section.
Some women also may not want to take the chance of lengthening their labor. Who wants to make the agony of labor longer? They want their sweet trophy lying on their naked chest as soon as they can. To accomplish this, many women want to avoid the epidural at all costs.
Furthermore, obstetricians may turn off or turn down a patient’s epidural because they want their patient to feel the need to push and de-numbing is one way to accomplish this. If a woman feels the need to push, it could speed up the birthing process.
But, a recent study by Obstetrics and Genecology debunks the idea that an epidural prolongs labor. The study was conducted on 400 women. Two hundred received an epidural and the other half received a saline placebo instead. The study showed that it took the epidural group 52 minutes and the placebo group 51 minutes while in their second stage of labor – the pushing phase. In essence, once the women were fully dilated, both groups heard the first cries of their little bundle within one hour of pushing .
The fact that a woman received an epidural did not making the pushing time of labor last any longer.
Dr. Philip Hess, director of obstetric anesthesia at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center told the Huffington Post, “Women who have prolonged, more difficult labors are more likely to request pain relief, but that does not mean the epidural itself is the reason behind the longer delivery time, he argued.” I can certainly attest to this one. While attempting my successful VBAC, I finally received my epidural after 35 hours of labor. My first labor was over one day long, too. Some women unfortunately have more difficult labors, and this study negates what we used to think about getting an epidural: that we will push longer and chances of having a vaginal birth dwindle.
If women are passionate about their birth plan which includes a natural childbirth, then they should do their best to adhere to that plan. It’s your right. But if you’re worried about getting an epidural because you’re afraid it will extend your labor and the time you push, the study simply suggests that that it won’t. The epidural will not interfere with the length of time you push.

5 Things That Made Me More Nervous Than Planning a Home Birth

Having your baby at home means there are certain things you’ll likely not have to deal with. Thank goodness,

“You’re so brave! I could never do that.”

I hear this a lot. It’s not because I scaled Mount Everest (I didn’t). It’s not because my husband and I took a newborn and a toddler on a cross-country road trip and forgot the iPad (we did). It’s the reaction I often get when I say I gave birth at home.

Here’s the thing: You could do it – assuming the pregnancy is low-risk and the birth is attended by an experienced, professional midwife. Whether you want to have a baby at home is another matter entirely, and I’m not saying you should. I’m just saying that after I researched my options and weighed the risks of a home birth against the risks of a hospital birth, I felt more comfortable with the former. And that does not make me brave.

Bravery, to quote the late Susan Jeffers, is to “feel the fear and do it anyway.” I was afraid I might murder my husband for ordering Indian take-out while I was laboring with our first child (curry just doesn’t smell the same when you’re pushing out a baby), but I was not afraid of giving birth at home. Here is what I was afraid of:

1 | Hospitals

Hospitals are literally life-savers, but I only want to be in one in an emergency. Having worked in them for over 10 years, I’ve seen them from the inside and they are rife with germs. They’re also full of people who don’t necessarily wash their hands according to hospital protocol. And those people — despite their best intentions and no matter how much they know — do not know me.

Trusting strangers when I’m at my most vulnerable and not in need of emergent medical care is scarier to me than staying in my low-tech house with an experienced midwife with whom I’ve developed a trusting, personal relationship.

2 | Laboring in a car

I don’t remember how I felt about the idea of having contractions in a car when I was pregnant with my first baby, but with my second, I knew what I was getting into. I knew I didn’t want to be trapped in a vehicle (even our brand-new minivan) once I was in active labor. It wasn’t that I was worried about making a mess in the car; I already had a toddler. It was just that the primal urge to get on your hands and knees and moan like a dying animal does not exactly make you feel like hopping in the car and buckling up. Or maybe that’s just me.

3 | Epidurals

If I’d had my babies in the hospital I would surely have requested an epidural. I don’t blame anyone who does. An escape route when all you want is to be anywhere but where you are? You think your only options are dying or splitting open, and all of a sudden dying doesn’t sound so bad? I get it. I was scared of the pain of childbirth, for sure.

However I was absolutely terrified of the alternative. I didn’t want anyone poking a needle in my back. I was not willing to accept the risks of the rare but horrible potential side effects of an epidural. I just wanted a newborn when the delivery was over, not a pair of crutches, a catheter, a brain-rattling headache, or worse.

4 | A doctor’s appointment for a three-day-old

After my home births, my midwife came over for a well-baby visit within 24 hours of the birth. She came again at three days, seven days, two weeks, four weeks, and six weeks. Meanwhile, she put the fear of God in me; she threatened that if I failed to rest during the early postpartum weeks, my internal organs may never return to their rightful places.

I was lucky to have two healthy babies who did not need to see their pediatrician until the eight-week well visit. By that time, I was totally capable of being at a specific place at a specific time, leaky breasts and all.

5 | Talking about home birth

I am afraid that potential new mom-friends who delivered in the hospital will think I’m a self-righteous hippie – or worse, a judgmental jerk – if the topic of birth comes up. I’m a lot of things but I would like to think sanctimonious is not one of them.

My friends say they love my honesty, which I know is code for, “Pam has no filter,” but when birth comes up, I become self-conscious. I’m careful about what I say and how I say it because the last thing I want to do is hurt someone.

Also, I’m not a hippie. Well, not a total hippie. I may have babies at home and chickens in the backyard, but the chickens are in a coop and the kids are vaccinated. And I love a mani/pedi as much as anyone – fumes, tabloids, and all.

10 Things Your Partner Might Do When You’re Giving Birth That Will Make You Want to Hurt Them

It can be hard to find something constructive to do or say when supporting a woman in labor. But husbands, you can at least try.

Giving birth is a pain and a half, which is why expectant moms take childbirth preparation courses and devour pregnancy books for months in advance of the big event. We do everything we can to make the process of giving birth (somewhat) painless.

Who knows, you just may succeed in having a (mostly) painless birth. Especially if you can persuade your doctor to order you up one humdinger of an epidural spinal block. However, even the Mother of All Epidurals won’t do a thing for your psychic pain.

Amulets, anyone?

The truth of the matter is, no matter what you do (burn incense in a Shinto shrine, slaughter a firstborn calf, light a black candle, wear five-pound amulets), nothing and no one can prepare you for the stupid things your husband is going to say or do during your labor that will make you want to kill him, even as you’re bringing new life into the world.

It is, unfortunately, inevitable.

You can trust me on this, because I am a mother of 12 children (no multiples, thank you very much). Yes, I am that woman. I gave birth 12 times. 

Cool water scented with lavender

Maybe your husband isn’t like my husband. In that case, you can wing it and go into the labor room completely optimistic that he’ll be the supportive partner of your dreams – the kind of guy who coos words of sweet praise as he gently rubs the small of your aching back and sponges your worried brow with cool water scented with lavender. The kind of guy who, unlike my husband, doesn’t roll his eyes and burp on you with his salami breath while you’re screaming up to the heavens to any deity who will listen. Or, worse yet, the kind who passes out when the baby crowns.

Just in case my husband typifies the breed, you’ll want to at least try to be ready (really ready). I thought I’d lay it out for you: Here are the top 10 things my own husband did during my 12 births that made me want to kill him. Quite frankly, it’s a miracle he’s alive.

1 | Yell at the doctors and nurses

Other people give things to the hospital staff, like leftover flowers, chocolates, and magazines. But no, not my dear husband. He yells at them. (Way to go, Hubster, alienating the people holding scissors to my private parts.)

2 | Go out to get something to eat

I think this happened in something like 10 out of my 12 births. Each time, I wanted to say, “You’re supposed to be here for me, and you go and get a burger at a life-defining moment? Why, for God’s sake? So you can cheer me on with burger breath?” except I was too busy bearing down in an Eau de Burger-scented delivery room.

3 | Forget to pack diapers in the going-home bag

This really happened. It was with Baby Number Two. I did the hard work of giving birth, while he had one job: to purchase a package of diapers and put two in the going-home bag. You know how it is, you don’t want to buy stuff before the birth and tempt fate. So you write Hubs up a list. A bulleted list. A perfect list. And of course, he misses something.

The result was that I found myself with a newborn in a diaper full of baby poop (the mustardy kind that gets all over everything and leaves stains) and no diaper in the bag. The baby is crying, the mom is crying, and the maternity ward is under strict orders not to give out diapers for babies who already have their release papers (it’s a cost-saving measure). Instead, they offered me a sanitary pad. 

4 | Use the royal “we” by saying, “Here we go”

He actually said that. He said, “Here we go,” as Baby number Three’s head crowned. To which I would have said, “Who’s we, Kemosabe?” had I not been moaning and grunting in pain. Make that excruciating pain. Pain he knew nothing about, hence something “we” knew nothing about, since I was the only one in the damned room experiencing it!

5 | Make jokes – baseball jokes – like, “We’re in the h-o-o-o-o-ome stretch. Get it?”

That would be during transition with Baby Number Four. I would have socked him in the kisser, but I was too busy screaming and pushing out a baby. Seriously?? Baseball jokes? During transition?

6 | Say things like, “This looks like a big one”

Picture this scenario: You’re there in the delivery room, out of your mind with pain, pushing out Baby Number Eight. You feel like the pain and trauma is never going to end. Never.

Then there are all these people handling your lady parts. You don’t know what’s going on even though you’re in it.  You are the focus. But you can’t see a thing because you’re at the head of the bed and stuff is happening at the end of the bed.

You’re scared and he says that to you: “This looks like a big one.” You’d definitely roll your eyes up in your head except they’re already rolled all the way up into your brain from the pain of giving birth. They can’t roll any farther.

7 | Tell me to breathe

Basically, childbirth preparation is a crock because giving birth hurts. Those classes are all about trying to make your husband not feel like a fifth wheel during the birth of his offspring (which he is). So they, the childbirth preparation “experts,” make up all this stuff about breathing and they tell Hubby to “remind the wife” to breathe.

This is his oh-so-very important task. They tell him he’s indispensable, and he actually believes them — believes you’d forget to breathe without him. Otherwise, why would he be telling you to breathe while you’re pushing out Baby Number 10? Hasn’t he learned anything at all during the other nine births?

8 | Ask the doctor for a shot of booze

Mom is resting all aglow. Baby Number Six is safely ensconced in his bassinet, having passed both rounds of the Apgar test with flying colors. And Dad is asking the OB-GYN for a shot of single malt scotch whisky from that bottle he just knows Doc keeps hidden in his desk drawer. Because, boy, does Hubby ever need a drink after that. (Because he did what, exactly? *scratches head*)

9 | Stop for coffee along the way to the hospital because he knows you’re not anywhere close, he’ll know when it’s time

Oh, really now? How will he know that? Divining rod, mayhaps? Anointed by God? A crystal ball stashed away with his golf paraphernalia? Tarot cards? Tea leaves?? Can he read palms, too?

10 | Hum incessantly, also tunelessly

It’s something he does when he’s nervous. Or bored. (He’s bored???) Hubby hums. And he doesn’t hum just any old tune, but that earworm for the ages, the infamous Kars4Kids jingle. The one that makes you want to sharpen a pencil in the orifice that is your ear.

Normally, you’d just plain G-O, go. You’d leave and get yourself out of hearing range. But darnit, there you are. Stuck. In the delivery room. With your as-yet-unborn baby and him. Humming.

 If he were a fly, you’d swat him, but as it happens, you’re otherwise occupied. Just a tiny bit busy grunting out Baby Number Nine.    

So there you have it. My top 10. These things really happened. My husband really said and did those things.

It’s funny: when I look back on all those births, I can’t help but muse on the irony. Because, you have to admit, it’s at least a little ironic that as I was bringing new life into this world, all I really wanted to do was off my husband.

Or maybe it’s not so ironic if you think about it. After all, you need to look no further than the animal kingdom to recognize a simple scientific truth, something every eight-year-old boy knows about life and death, and that is the fact that the female praying mantis bites off the head of her partner after mating.

I think she’s on to something. Do you feel me?

What irritating things has your husband said or done in the delivery room? How did you handle the situation? What would you do to prepare if you had to do it all over again? Comment in the section below.