Disclaimer: All advice is personal and not meant to replace any doctor or any other professional advice.
1.There is no screen or sheet to cover you during delivery. There is little dignity when you give birth, not because anyone is trying to embarrass you, they are just doing their job. Consider carefully who comes to your delivery.
2.The father of you child, no matter how relaxed he tries to act, is terrified to one degree or another because the two most important people in the world to him are either laboring or near helpless, and he doesn't know what to do. Cut him some slack. It may seem like second nature to you, but he hasn't be reading up on "What to Expect." If your labor is long, consider letting him have a friend come hang out in the lobby or grab lunch in the cafeteria with him.
3. You can ask for the drugs in half doses. Narcotics don't make the pain go away, they make you not care. They can help you relax in between contractions (fall asleep), but sometimes make you hallucinate. Additionally if you choose to get an epidural, you can ask them to regulate your dose so you can actually feel the urge to push. It's not fun when you can't even lift your legs. Know that if you have the epidural overnight, the blood pressure cuff goes off every 15 minutes and will wake you up.
5. If a nurse is rude or unkind to you, request a new one, or see if your mom will. Life is hard enough without someone bullying you. To be fair though, make sure to keep yourself in check and everyone should be really nice to you.
6. Ask for a slow head delivery. Period. Midwives or nurse practitioner/midwives are especially careful, usually more patient, and make it a point to be at your delivery if they can, whereas you might just get the doctor on call, so at the moment of birth you could have a stranger, so if you can meet the other members of your doctor's group, or go to a small office with, say, two doctors do so.
7. Don't feel that you are a terrible mother if you believe your infant is not the most beautiful creature when the nurse hands he/she to you. Any negative feelings toward your baby during labor or after birth are the hormones talking. You are exhausted and overwhelmed, don't trust all your emotions. Just know that you will love that baby with a love you have never experienced (and you will probably be paranoid that someone is going to steal him/her the whole time you're in the hospital).
8.Make sure someone, if not you or your spouse, call all immediate family members and closest friends with the baby's stats. You might think a sibling will call Dad, but don't take the chance. You don't want them finding out on facebook.
9. Breastfeeding is hard and painful at first, but very worth it. Meet with the lactation consultant, all the "theory" you've learned goes out the window once you try and it's much easier when someone is there to help. Also nipple shields (although controversial) can help when the baby has trouble latching and if you have issues with milk later you can use a tube feeder/lactation aid to help supplement while breastfeeding. After the hospital, things change when your milk comes in, you can always contact your local La Leche League.
10. If you are comfortable with the idea, learn to nurse lying down as soon as possible. Some people worry they may roll on the baby, which is a valid concern, but I was always more worried about dropping the baby when breastfeeding in a chair with the Boppy if I fell asleep. I always tuck the pillow between my knees and after months of sleeping on my side, I was trained not to roll onto my stomach. Additionally I would place my hand on the bed just beyond the baby, so my arm was at a right angle and balancing me. Nursing lying down has spared me the sore shoulders and back I would get while nursing sitting up. It also requires a whole lot less effort in the middle of the night when all you have to do is move the baby from the bassinet to the bed. Just make sure to have a crib mattress pad to catch any milk (I always need the pad in addition to breastpads anyway-way too much milk and you don't want to change sheets on top of all your clothes...) I was searching online and they may not make these pads anymore, everything is fitted. I like them cause they are easily washed.
11. If you have Medi-Cal in California, you don't have to go to a scary office downtown. Speak up and network to find out who accepts Medi-Cal. Pregnancy is well covered. Other insurance help exists including partial Medi-Cal that covers the cost your insurance doesn't, and Access for Infants and Mothers (AIM) which provides that you pay a percentage of your earnings to cover the cost. Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can help with food costs during pregnancy and provides support when the baby is born (There are multiple offices around Fresno now). A baby born on Medi-Cal remains on it for a year, and if you qualify, you can join Healthy Families and pay a discounted rate and co-pays to keep your children insured later. If you do not qualify, there are free clinics for immunization shots for babies,children, and adults.
12. PS. (After the baby is born and a little bigger.) Bumbos are great when your baby is done with the infant tub, the baby can take showers with you
and you don't have to worry about them sliding everywhere in your arms. Bumbos do not work in baths however, they float. Make sure to prevent any mold on the underside of the Bumbo by making sure it dries completely. They are also great for mealtimes. Another alternative to space consuming high chairs are portable high chairs like Chicco's Hook On Chairs and similar brands that attach directly to your table side or breakfast bar.