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Like many first-time moms I relied heavily on my mom's advice throughout my pregnancy and beyond. She shared loads of helpful tips and funny stories that made the difficult parts of pregnancy more bearable.
However, when it came to my birth plan I really wish I had ignored, or at least questioned, her advice. I think we assume that our labor experience will be similar to our mothers' and so it makes sense to seek their input, but it may not always make sense to heed their advice. A lot has changed between the time you were born to the time that you will give birth, and you owe it to yourself to research beyond your mother's well-intentioned words.
Below you'll find not only my own mother's misguided suggestions, but also those of other women who've been there.
My grandmother always claimed that childbirth was less painful than stubbing your toe!
Having experienced both unmedicated and epidural births my mother and mother-in-law both assured me that I should request an epidural as soon as possible. I went into my first labor with no pain coping skills. The epidural only worked on one half of my body, made pushing unnecessarily difficult, and left me with the worst headache of my life. I really wish that I would have at least tried to skip the epidural. In fact, with my second child I had a drug-free birth and I found the pain bearable and the experience amazing. I think epidurals have incredible value, but only you can decide if they are right for you.
"My mom told me that it can help to masturbate during contractions. No thanks." - Tracy H.
"Not really advice, but my grandmother (who had four children) always claimed that childbirth was less painful than stubbing your toe! I didn't completely believe her, but I was kind of hopeful ... The reality of excruciating pain for 18 hours turned out to be shock!" - Sarah T.
I'm so glad my doctor talked me out of it.
Many of us were born when things like episiotomies and pitocin drips were fairly routine. I had been warned by others that an episiotomy was less than ideal, but my mother swore hers was no big deal and much better than tearing. That was not my experience. With her advice I consented to being cut and proceeded to tear well beyond the incision, it was the worst of both worlds.
"My mother had C-sections with each of her children. I assumed that was just how we were meant to give birth. She encouraged me to simply schedule my surgery and I almost did. I'm so glad my doctor talked me out of it." - Meg C.
My mother did not enjoy breastfeeding. Her advice was to suffer through the pain for a few weeks and then start introducing the bottle. She was right about the lactation consultants being unhelpful bottle-shamers, but I wish I would have joined a peer-based breastfeeding support group instead of throwing in the towel early.
"My mom told me to rough up my nipples beforehand! So glad I knew she was passing out crazy advice! My nips got plenty of roughing up those first few weeks." - Lacy S.
Just remember, your mother only wants the best for you, and sometimes that means ignoring her advice.