Welcoming a new baby is one of the most exciting times in anyone’s life, and although many aspects of pregnancy are enjoyable and unique you’ll experience, it is also a time for preparation. And there’s much more to it than baby-proofing your home or decorating a nursery (although these are fun and necessary jobs too). Readying yourself for labour and childbirth requires serious mental and physical preparation, and this should begin early in the pregnancy with advice from your doctor.
If you have a partner they can also take an active role in preparations, and this can be an intimate and bonding experience, at a time when hormones and emotions can be all over the place. Here are some tips.
Educate and Empower Yourself
It’s important during your pregnancy to do plenty of research into what labour is like, and the difficulties some women face. Everyone has a different body, so each labour experience is unique. Attending antenatal classes can be a very useful way to find information and speak with experienced professionals, midwives, and other expectant mothers to share knowledge, worries, or any other concerns.
You may also be able to check out the birthing facilities at hospitals — these can vary greatly, and will help you familiarise yourself with the surroundings and choose the right one for you.
We’re often presented with the idea of labour as some kind of horror show, be it through films, TV shows, or just shared experiences. But most labours aren’t as complex, for every bad story there are many more good ones. Focus on this, and think positively.
Meditation may help with this, as well as keeping your daily routine as positive and upbeat as your body will allow during this latter stage of pregnancy.
Prepare your Body
Labour is a heavy duty process for the body to go through, even if it isn’t your first time. It requires strength, stamina, and willpower, and, during a ‘normal’ healthy pregnancy your healthcare provider should be advising you on what kinds of exercise you can do to stay fit and healthy during the process.
Even if you’ve experienced common conditions that pregnant women can face, there are still plenty of options available — check the safest options with your doctor.
Creating a birth plan involves thoughtful consideration of your preferences and wishes for the labour and delivery process. Start by researching and understanding the available birthing options, including pain management, delivery positions, and interventions. Discuss your preferences with your healthcare provider to ensure alignment with their practices and guidelines.
Outline your desired atmosphere, such as whether you want music, dim lighting, or specific individuals present — if you’re with your partner or another family member, involve them in the process. It’s very important to communicate your preferences regarding interventions like epidurals, episiotomies, or labour augmentation.
Labour exercises, also known as prenatal or antenatal exercises, are designed to prepare the body for the physical demands of childbirth. Squats and lunges can help strengthen the lower body, particularly the muscles used during the pushing stage. Pelvic tilts and cat-cow stretches can promote flexibility in the pelvis and lower back, potentially easing discomfort during labour. Perineal massage will also help immensely during labour.
Kegel exercises focus on the pelvic floor muscles, aiding in better control and support. Deep belly breathing and relaxation techniques can help manage stress and anxiety associated with labour. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before engaging in any specific labour exercises, as individual health conditions and pregnancy considerations may vary. Staying active during pregnancy and incorporating these exercises can contribute to improved endurance, strength, and overall readiness for the labour process.
Pack Your Bag!
When packing a hospital bag for labor, consider essentials to ensure a smooth and comfortable experience. Comfy clothes, lots of extra underwear and socks, and a well stocked washbag. DO NOT forget your birth plan, identification, insurance information, and any necessary medical documents.
Include essential comfort items like a favorite pillow, lip balm, and snacks to keep energy levels up during labor. The process can be long, so some entertainment — films on your phone or tablet, books, music, etc, are essential. Don’t forget your chargers! For the baby, pack clothing, blankets, and any specific items you want for their initial care.
Preparing to give birth is exciting but also a time of trepidation. With these preparations you can make the journey as smooth as possible, and once your little bundle arrives, you can forget all about it.