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Labor stories are wonderful, personal, and exciting. Reading them also helps new moms trying to learn before their first labors. Learn how to document the labor story of your first baby, and all later pregnancies, in “Birth Stories Roundup + How to Write Your Labor Story Before you Forget.”
This story is from guest writer, Taylor Minaberry. Her first baby labor story talks about the birth of her daughter, Olivia. It’s especially helpful for new moms, as well as those who are past their due date. In this article, find Taylor’s labor story with her first baby, plus photos that document her journey.
We’ve interspersed extra helpful information into Taylor’s story, including:
- How to prepare for a first baby
- How to deal with first baby anxiety
- What to expect from your family when you have your first baby
How to Prepare for Labor with a First Baby
One of the main causes of anxiety for new parents is trying to get ready for baby. Taylor suggests using the “nesting” instinct as a way to push through the nerves and excitement. Before her labor with Olivia, Taylor and her partner, Matt, used home prep as a way to pass the time.
Taylor says most of her days were spent “getting our home ready for our very first little one. I decided that the bathrooms in our house needed painted (nesting extends past the nursery, y’all). Luckily, her nursery was almost finished because I had a bunch of help from my mom and aunt!”
Taylor also made her own quilt and crib skirt, while Matt did much of the work that’s harder with a large belly, like assembling furniture and installing car seats.
Preparing For a First Baby
Transitioning to parenthood is huge. Not only do you have to get ready for the major change a baby will bring to your life You also have to physically prepare for it.
This article from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines the main areas of new baby preparation. They suggest:
- Birthing, breastfeeding, and parenting classes
- Deciding whether to circumcise if you are having a male child
- Choosing healthcare providers for baby
- Making your home safe and ready for baby. (Ensuring they have safe spaces to sleep is especially important)
- Last-minute to-dos (i.e. installing car seats, purchasing supplies for feeding, etc.)
For help determining how to prepare for creating a labor story with your first baby, check out our list of supplies for hospital bags and postpartum.
Not sure what you really need to bring your first baby home after labor? Find everything you need on our Amazon Infant Necessities Page!
Managing Anxiety About Labor with Your First Baby
Taylor says that Christmas, and hand-making presents, helped distract her. These distractions were especially helpful when she was dealing with a (luckily false) pre-eclampsia scare.
In addition to emotionally and physically preparing for the arrival of a little human you’re tasked with keeping alive, pregnant moms have to worry about labor and childbirth. This is especially scary for new moms preparing for their first baby’s labor.
So how do you keep your head from exploding?? SOLID QUESTION, MY FRIENDS!
First off, take a deep breath, new parent. You’re gonna be just fine!
Web MD has a fantastic list of 25 ways to Handle the Stress of a New Baby. We particularly like the following suggestions and have added a few of our own:
- Establish a plan
- Establish a birth plan
- Establish who can visit baby and when
- Establish a plan for eating, resting, and taking breaks when baby comes home
- Stay Flexible
- Very few things will go as you plan (we know, this is hard to hear). As such, you need to try your best to roll with the punches.
- Keep a Log
- of baby’s sleep, milk intake, diaper changes
- If baby hasn’t arrived, keep a log of your doctor’s visits, medications, complications. This will help you keep track of it all and research it when you get home from the doctor’s office.
- Rethink your priorities!
- No one cares if your bathroom is clean or if the dishes have been put away. If you’re 40 weeks pregnant and need to put your feet up instead of cleaning that bathroom or doing those dishes, you have our express permission to do so.
- If you’ve given birth but keep getting work emails, remind them that you just pushed out a tiny human and that you’re on maternity leave. Your priority now is keeping yourself sane and your newborn fed. That’s it.
- Find Humor in your new situation
- Trust us, being able to laugh when your kid’s poop explosion decorates your ceiling and/or carpet is imperative. It’s laugh or cry, and trust us, you don’t want to be crying all the damn time.
- Stay Connected to your partner throughout the process
- You two are in this together. Talk through what you need from each other in the days leading up to and after the birth. Write down ways you can reassure and care for each other. Having this list will help so much when you’re in the throes of labor, delivery, and caring for a newborn.
These suggestions basically all center around control.
Having a new baby is one of the most out-of-control things that will happen to you. And while most of our labor stories may not be what we want them to be, finding ways to seemingly control the uncontrollable will help keep your anxiety to manageable levels.
Most importantly, though, remember to take care of yourself! Eat well, go for walks when you can, and hydrate! If you’ve already had the baby, let your mom, MIL, or friends come over to hold your precious bundle while you shower or nap. ACCEPT ANY HELP THAT COMES YOUR WAY. Help is your friend.
Trying to Induce Her First Baby’s Labor: Taylor’s Story
After Christmas and the preeclampsia scare, my nesting reached a new, hardcore level.
EVERYTHING was cleaned. I remember I was scrubbing baseboards and grout with a tootbrush, and that’s when I finally admitted that I we were so unbelievably ready for Olivia to make her appearance.
To give us something to look forward to, Matt had a baby countdown on a whiteboard in our kitchen and he changed the number each day.
We were getting very close to Olivia’s due date, and I was absolutely miserable. Heartburn kept me up all night, and the word “comfortable” was no longer in my vocabulary. Cue trying to go into labor.
We tried everything we could think of and/or Google to go into labor. Matt and I started going to the park every day to walk and swing on the swings. We tried spicy foods, sex, pumping, bouncing on an exercise ball, raspberry leaf tea.
You name it, we tried it.
Then her due date came.
And then it went.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for first babies to be overdue. This article is great for understanding when a child is overdue.
We had a doctors appointment on her due date, and my doctor stripped my membranes. This is a procedure that OBGYNs will sometimes perform in order to induce labor.
In the procedure, the doctor used a gloved finger to separate the amniotic sac from the wall of my uterus. This process releases hormones that can trigger your contractions and put you officially in labor.
Stripping my membranes was pretty uncomfortable while she was doing it, but I’m so glad she did.
Baby Time: Taylor Goes Into Labor
After my appointment, I went to work for a bit. I was having what I thought of as cramps from the membrane stripping procedure, but didn’t think much of it.
I spent the evening relaxing. I took a bath that evening, and the cramps subsided. I felt much better and was able to get a decent night of sleep.
I woke up the next morning around 9, cramping again. The cramping was painful compared to the day before.
Knowing little about what was happening because this was my first child, I called my mom and asked if the cramping was contractions. She said yes (squeal!) and that I should time them and try to walk to help them progress.
So we started timing. We would go outside after one would end, walk around our little block, and make it back inside in time for me to get back on the ball to help with the pain.
The contractions were getting longer, closer together, and more intense. Our little walking circle had to shorten. We cut through yards to make it back in time–yikes.
I had some contractions in the driveway and on our porch. We labored at home from 9am to 5pm, and I am so grateful for this because I was in the comfort of my own home. Matt didn’t leave my side, either; he was such a huge help!
The drive to the hospital was a little rough as I was contracting for a minute every 5 minutes. Our car ride was about 20 minutes long, and having to sit up while contracting was not fun.
We arrived at the hospital, and I was already 4 cm dilated. They admitted me, and I was put in a room and got started on an IV by 6 o’clock that evening.
Laboring at the Hospital: Taylor’s Story
It got rough shortly after we got to the hospital. My family was (of course) camping out in the waiting room. I had originally only wanted Matt and I in the room, but both of our moms ended up staying in with us for the birth.
I spent most of my time laboring while sitting in bed holding onto the squat bar they had. My arms were over it for support, and Matt was rubbed my back the whole time.
Mom fanned me because I was so hot. The pain was so bad that I had complete tunnel vision.
In my mind, if Matt wasn’t touching me, it was like he wasn’t there. I don’t even think he was able to pee. (Sorry honey!)
At one point I realized it was dark, and I asked when that had happened–it felt like minutes, when it had been hours.
I wasn’t progressing at one point because I was freaking out and my breathing was out of control. My medical team told Matt that I was going to have to do a c-section if I didn’t start progressing again.
That pulled me into focus VERY QUICKLY. My husband helped me get my breathing back on track with some guidance from my mom.
Finally, It Was Time for Taylor to Push!
Finally I hit 10 cm, and my nurses asked me to do a couple of practice pushes while we waited on the doctor. Well, I pushed once and they told me to stop, but I definitely wasn’t stopping at that point.
The doctor finally made it, and after about 5-10 minutes of pushing, she was born at 12:54 AM.
Olivia was 9lbs 3oz and 22 inches long. A full head of hair. Utter Perfection. I fell in love instantly.
Once I was all stitched up and cleaned up, my family came to meet her. It was pretty late at that point. I was so drained.
It was such a long day, and I hadn’t eaten. My parents got me some Steak ‘N Shake; it was the only thing open at 2 am. I don’t think I even ate any of it because I was so distracted.
Finally, everyone went home, and we tried to get some rest.
What to Expect from Your Family When You Go Into Labor with Your First Baby
Taylor’s family was incredibly supportive and present for her, but not everyone’s family is easy to manage. Some aren’t present at all, and many want to be more involved than the new parents are comfortable with.
This can be both a wonderful thing and and overwhelming one.
Managing your family after the birth of a new baby can be a full-time job. Doing it on top of birthing a baby is sheer insanity. You don’t want to look back on your first baby labor story and remember family drama. Labor has enough of its own drama.
That’s why we’ve gathered some helpful tips from our own experience to help you navigate this!
Tips for managing your family during your first birth:
- Set Boundaries. This might be difficult, but trust us, it’s worth it. Let your family know when and where they can meet your new baby. Make sure they know your birth plan and your wishes in regards to visiting before the baby is born. Tell the hospital staff, as well. Northside Hospital in Atlanta, which births more babies on an average day than any hospital in the country, has enforced a policy called “The Golden Hour.” Without explicit consent, extended family is not allowed in the room for 1 hour after the birth of a baby. New moms report LOVING this policy!
- Envision your family’s involvement. Before the baby is born, think about how you would like for your family to be involved. If your mom and sister are your best friends and you want them there for every moment, great! If not, then make sure you set those boundaries mentioned above. Involving family in ways that you envision is crucial.
- Delegate! Delegate ways that your family can help you. Ask them to bring dinner or feed your dog while you are away. Get your dad to help your husband or partner set up the crib. Most families just want to help you, and delegating benefits both you and them! And trust us, you’ll need help. Like we said earlier, ASK FOR IT AND ACCEPT IT!
Taylor’s Story on the First Night with a Baby After Labor
We didn’t really sleep at all. This probably comes as a surprise to no one, but interference from mine and Olivia’s nurses was constant.
Olivia was a big baby, so her medical team had to monitor her sugar levels often. They’d come in and prick her foot, which would instantly wake her up. Then I’d feed her and get her back to sleep just for them to come do it all over again. It was exhausting.
There were people in and out of our room all night, and the next thing we knew, the sun was up. We had given up on sleep and were so bored that we were ready for some visitors by 7am.
I remember asking the nurse permission to change her clothes, and her response was, “umm yeah, she’s yours.” I laughed out loud.
I felt like I should have had to pass a class or a test or something before I could leave with a baby; I was so young!
Here was this perfect little baby, and she was ours. It was so scary.
Leaving the Hospital With Our First Baby
Matt and I were so ready to take our little one home. While we were in the hospital, Florida was having unseasonably cold weather. Olivia was all bundled up for the ride home.
It felt so awesome to step out (okay, wheel out) into some fresh, cold air! When we got home from the hospital, my mom and sister came over to watch the baby while Matt and I showered and napped in our own bed. That was the greatest gift ever!
Once they left, Matt’s mom and grandma brought dinner over and visited for a bit. (Thank you to all who brought us meals that first week!). We don’t know what we would have done without them.
Unfortunately, Olivia peed on the couch that first night, and we decided the suede couches had to go. Pro tip: never change your newborn on a suede couch.
The next day my mom visited with some of the kids, and she brought me a basket full of snacks to nibble on while I was breastfeeding, which was so thoughtful!
After that basket I had to have some peanut butter filled cheese crackers every time I breastfed/pumped. You can read about by breastfeeding journey here if you’re interested. Spoiler alert, it didn’t end well.
Eventually, we all got the hang of Olivia being home. She was the most perfect baby and slept through the night before a month old. If you’d like to take a look at her first year, you can do so here!
The Importance of Writing a Birth Story for Taylor
I wrote my birth stories (I have two children now) for Mother’s Day 2019 as a way to commemorate and remember these incredibly important moments in my life. Olivia’s birth story will forever remain a part of me because it was my first labor and delivery.
I am so grateful for my two beautiful children, and I hope that reading Olivia’s birth story will give you some perspective on having a first child, including how prepare for the baby; how to manage your anxiety before the baby arrives; and how to deal with your family’s excitement over the new baby!
Taylor tells a more detailed version of this story, full of photos, at her blog, Taylor’s Treasures.
What were/are your fears and anxieties before labor with your first baby? Tell us your story in the comments!
Sarah Creel, PhD, is the editor of Undefining Motherhood, and Director of the Research Communication Certificate in the Graduate School at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Sarah loves to be with her family (including eight nieces and nephews!), friends, boyfriend, and animals (she has two cats and one weird dog. Wait, who is she kidding? They are all weird). At Undefining Motherhood, Sarah brings new perspectives by shedding light on nontraditional ways of being a mother.