A Few Tips for a Smooth Delivery

Luck. I know that's annoying to say, but I genuinely think that luck plays a big role in whether or not a delivery goes smoothly. You can plan as much as you want, but ultimately the baby, your body, and your circumstances will dictate how your labor and delivery will go.

I was set to be induced on December 11. A lot of people say that being induced makes your labor a lot more difficult. For personal reasons, I was willing to accept that. And, in the end, my water broke the day before. I spent months researching induction methods, debating the pros and cons, and worrying about how it would go. But little miss Navy had different plans, and because she came early, I got to skip the foley bulb I dreaded and potentially longer labor process. To me, that was pure luck.

That being said, I do think there were several things I did that made my labor and delivery go so smoothly, and end up being such a positive experience. I really wouldn't change anything. Here are my tips for helping you have a smooth labor and delivery:

1. Make sure you have a good OBGYN- This is the most important advice I can offer. When I was trying to get pregnant I was seeing a certain doctor. Upon realizing that ovulation sticks weren't working for me, I called to ask her advice. She had both an annoyed and condescending tone, and the call lasted no more than 2 minutes (I could feel her ready to hang up at any moment). It was stressful, to say the least. Then, every time I went in for an ultrasound to track my ovulation, I would meet with a nurse. The doctor never came in to see an ultrasound or to talk to me. The next step was supposed to be Clomid (which the nurse was going to prescribe, not my doctor). It was far from ideal and I just dreaded the process with her.

A good friend of mine begged me to have a consultation with her doctor. Since it was a man, I was a bit hesitant (I always thought I only wanted a female doctor). At 6 weeks pregnant, I decided to meet with him. That was the best decision of my entire pregnancy journey. My doctor ended up being one of my favorite people I've ever met, let alone have care for me. He was kind, empathetic, calm and non-alarmist. He was available 24/7 by email (would email me back on a Friday night), and always wrote the kindest emails to ensure I didn't feel embarrassed by my questions. Knowing he was going to delivery Navy truly lessened my anxiety since I knew we were in such good hands. I know for certain my experience would have been drastically different had I not changed doctors.

2. Go with the flow- As exemplified by my situation, there is only so much you can plan. Be open and okay with whatever will happen. Your delivery is in many ways out of your control. You can only plan so much. My delivery went better than I had expected (which I know is not always the case). Nonetheless, if you stick too rigidly to your "birth plan", you can end up very anxious if it goes a different way.

I didn't have a birth plan. My plan was to be induced and get the epidural- that is it. Whatever else was going to happen would happen. I remember people telling me that getting induced would lead to a greater chance of a c-section (which my doctor disagreed with). Ultimately, I would respond that whatever needs to happen to get my baby girl here safe is fine with me. There is always a risk that you can end up in a c-section, and you need to just let go and trust that your doctor will do what is best for you and the baby. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to have a birth plan, but be open to whatever ultimately will happen.

3. Know that it's temporary- You may feel a lot of pain and discomfort, but it won't last long. Just remember that. It is very temporary in the grand scheme of things.

4. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want- I was very upfront that I wanted my epidural done by the chief anesthesiologist and not a resident. Cedars Sinai is a teaching hospital so I had to ask and make sure I didn't have a resident. I have a lot of respect for residents but I didn't want to take any chances when it came to my epidural (I have heard horror stories of people's experiences with epidurals and long-term effects). I'm so glad I asked for the chief anesthesiologist because he was amazing. I felt no pain whatsoever and he even stayed to chat with us for a bit (he was the nicest). Whether it's the anesthesiologist, deciding when to get the epidural etc., don't be afraid to speak up for what you want.

5. Don't fear the epidural (or even contractions, if that's possible)- I read a lot of blog posts before my delivery about how people's anxiety over the epidural made the epidural worse. I won't lie, I really wasn't nervous about that part of my delivery.  For one, I'm less afraid of needles with something getting injected into me than blood draws (blood draws make me queezy). Strange, I know. But also knowing the purpose of the epidural was to reduce my pain put me at ease. Just don't look! My epidural didn't hurt at all. There was a tiny prick with a burning sensation for a few seconds and then nothing. Ray said the needle was really long- again, just don't look!

The epidural did wear out for me twice, so I got two boosters. Again, don't be afraid to ask for what you want. The button didn't work for me so I specifically asked for boosters (which btw they just put into the catheter so you don't get more needles).

I waited around 7 hours before getting the epidural. Before my delivery, I asked my doctor how dilated I should be before getting it.  He always responded that it was entirely up to me. I'm actually surprised I waited 7 hours to get it. My contractions hurt but they were by no means unbearable. They were like a very very painful period cramp, but nothing I couldn't handle. My only request (going back to #3 above), was to get the epidural before I started Pitocin. That is why I opted for the epidural at 12:00 am. Also, let's be honest, I wasn't trying to be a hero. If it could eliminate my pain, why not get it? (Especially since Pitocin would help the contractions progress).

6.  Stay fit during your pregnancy- I think one of the reasons my delivery was so easy was that I stayed active during my pregnancy. I know staying active doesn't necessarily mean your delivery will go smoothly, but it can't hurt. I walked every morning and did prenatal pilates 3 times a week. I honestly can't imagine pushing if I wasn't in good shape.

7. Play good music- When I asked for song requests on Instagram for playlists, people laughed. A lot of people responded that I wouldn't care about music during my delivery. This was far from the truth! While I was pregnant, I created a few playlists. I would listen to my "Push Playlist- Part 1" (the calm one) on my walk every morning. I then played it the entire night I was in labor. It created a relaxing atmosphere. When we got home from the hospital I played the playlist on repeat all week (and I kind of still do).

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