The big one would probably be you’re going to go into labor early and you’re going to deliver early. And it’s going to be okay. Because when you’ve never had a baby, delivering a month and a half early seems like a really big deal but since then I’ve worked with literally thousands of preemie moms whose babies were born way earlier than mine. Most of those preemies lived and thrived, if sometimes in their own way. Some didn’t make it, but the mamas I know have turned their grief into amazing things. If I couldn’t say all that, I’d just tell myself that prematurity happens and it’s a shame it’s not discussed at more prenatal appointments.
Next, I’d tell myself that even if breast feeding is super important to you there needs to be room for flexibility. Like when your baby is born early and has a weak latch and a habit of choking (which slows down her heart, ack). But that doesn’t mean you can’t just be up front about how important breast feeding is to you. Chirping “the most vital thing is to feed the baby” at everyone who asks how nursing is going isn’t helping, even if it’s a good policy. Instead of assuming you’ll breast feed or assuming you’ll bottle feed, have a vision of motherhood that includes both. And possibly a breast pump, too.
Drink more water. Eat more food. While genetics probably played the biggest role in what will become a habit of birthing early, the fact that your early deliveries and a sudden drop in weight will go hand in hand could mean something. Dehydration is associated with the early onset of contractions. As for food, I think the midwife put it best when upon hearing that you hadn’t eaten breakfast said “Would you go for 12 hours without feeding your baby once she’s born? No? Then why are you doing it now?” I know you’re already thinking about having to lose the baby weight but chill out. Eat a sundae. You’re going to eventually regret not going just a little hog wild.
Even if you’re not loving the way you look right now, take more belly pictures! You may think you have an eternity to schedule that maternity photo shoot but like I already said, prematurity happens and since I am future you I know you will literally never have the opportunity to do a 35-week or a 38-week shoot. Do a 30-week shoot or a 25-week shoot, even if it’s just a friend snapping pics in the backyard.
Don’t bother scheduling that childbirth class. With the whole premature birth, you’re going to miss it anyway. But even if you were going to make it to full term I can tell you there is literally nothing someone can tell you in a class that will really prepare you for the intense and overwhelming experience of natural childbirth. Everything technical that’s good to know – the stages of labor and methods of coping with birth pain, for instance – can be found for free online on your own time. Oh, and P.S. you’re never going to get around to writing up your birth plan so stop worrying about it.
As self-sufficient as you are, day in and day out, get over your distaste for asking for help and ask for help. And not just any old help, either. Ask for exactly the kind of help you need from whoever is the best person to provide it, before and after birth. When someone asks what they can do, tell them. You can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but that doesn’t mean you need to be frying bacon every damn minute.
Everything will be better and worse than you can imagine. No kidding, and no worries. Pregnancy will be easy but end early. Birth is going to be wonderful and traumatic all at the same time. Cool because it’s a new and interesting experience, and one that connects you with billions of years of birthing things. Uncool because your baby will be taken almost immediately to the NICU while you get stitched up and settled in the maternity ward – and no one will make it clear that you can go right over to the nursery. Breast feeding will be kind of awful for a pretty long time, but then you’ll do it until your baby self-weans at 18 months. That’s life, I guess!
What would YOU tell your pregnant self if you could?