Photo by MamaMadge; Laura, back left, with her husband and their gang.
Laura (MamaMadge) is one busy CafeMom. She's got four kids (on view in the adorable photo, above), and she went back to school to become a labor and delivery nurse. I met her in the Pregnancy Questions and Concerns... Get Answers! group and thought, who better to give tips to first-time moms on labor and delivery?
Here's how she juggles the craziness of a busy family and work life. And -- yo, listen up! -- here are her best tips on getting through childbirth, regardless of how you deliver.
How long have you been a labor and delivery nurse, and how did you wind up choosing that as your profession?
I've been a nurse for four years. I always had a desire to be a nurse (I’m a nurturer by nature!). When I had my babies, I loved all my nurses and felt I would really love to help other women on the biggest occasion of their life.
You work full time and have four kids -- wow! How do you juggle the demands of home and work?
Very precariously! I try to meal plan and shop for the week ahead to cut down on trips to the store. My best trick from when I was in nursing school was, on Sunday night, I would put together five outfits for my little girl in kindergarten and hang them in her closet (with socks attached!). Then she just had to pick an outfit in the morning. That saved a LOT of time.
OK -- let's talk about labor. What's the most common mom concern or issue you see with women delivering in the hospital?
Many women come into the experience with a preconceived idea of how things will go with their labor and delivery. We all know that labor and birth are unpredictable, so women often feel their expectations weren’t met.
Communicate your needs and wishes. The team is there to make sure you have the best experience possible, within reason. Let your doctor or nurse know if you don’t understand something, ask them to explain everything to you.
Now for more specific tips....
Best tip for a woman who delivers vaginally in the hospital?
Accept the ice pack, or ask for one if it‘s not offered to you. It feels great and reduces swelling and inflammation, even if you don’t have an episiotomy or a laceration. Ask your nurse to put one on you immediately after delivery and ask for a fresh one each time you change pads.
Best tip for a woman who delivers via C-section?
Take your pain medication, then MOVE! Post-operative pain, inflammation, and abdominal discomforts usually compound if you don’t get up and get moving as soon as possible. Everything in moderation, though.
What should moms who get an epidural be aware of?
It can take a while to get an epidural going! The whole thing can take from 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how easily they can get it in. If you ask for an epidural when you are 8 or 9cm, it probably won’t work for you. Keep your options open and plan ahead.
What's your best advice for women who deliver without pain medication?
YOU CAN DO IT!!
Get educated about as MANY alternative pain management methods as possible (ie: meditation, breathing, chanting, guided imagery, hypnosis). The pain can be overwhelming, but your mind is stronger than the pain.
A fantastic resource for natural birthing is Birthing From Within, by Pam England and Rob Horowitz.
Given how many births you've seen, what's the most important piece of advice you'd give a woman preparing for labor?
Get educated, ask questions, and be pro-active. Don’t let the birth “happen” to you. You have choices and opinions. With that being said, you must remain flexible and have complete trust in your OB team.
How should moms prepare for it?
Read, go to classes, talk to other moms, and most of all, be flexible! We always try to respect and honor your wishes during labor and delivery. Remember, we (your OB team) are responsible for two lives, and are always striving to keep you and your baby happy and safe!
Are you reading and taking classes on childbirth? How would you say you're educating yourself and, even if you do have specific ideas about how you'd like things to go, do you think you're ready to be "flexible" when you give birth?