Pregnant women have a lot of time through the 9-month period to prepare for the intense experience of childbirth and the earth-shattering changes that come along with it. All through pregnancy, it feels like life is moving faster and faster, but when it comes down to crunch time in the delivery room, things tend to slow down a great deal. According to a research study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, labor and childbirth for first-time moms now takes 2.6 hours longer than it did 50 years ago.
The thing about labor is that it isn’t easy. That is perhaps why it is called ‘labor’ and not ‘piece of cake’ or ‘walk in the park’. However, it is 100% possible for you to prepare yourself as much as possible to put up with the work, exhaustion and sweat associated with childbirth. Here’s a look into the 7 smartest ways in which you can prepare yourself for labor and childbirth:
5 Acquire as Much Knowledge as Possible About the Birth Process
Just the thought of giving birth can prove to be rather daunting for most women. This fear at times makes them want to put it all out their minds until it happens. This is, however, something that you need to avoid, because according to experts, women who learn about birth ahead of time are more active participants in their own birth process, which leads to better outcomes.
The best thing for you to do in this regard is to join a birth class so you can acquire detailed information about things like options for pain management, the stages of labor, breathing techniques and even the medical equipment that will be used during delivery. What birthing classes offer typically tend to vary so it’s best for you to survey the options and find the one that most appeals to you.
It's a good idea to start looking into classes mid-pregnancy to make sure you get one you like. There are also a number of videos on the internet that you can watch in this regard.
A point to remember
Although learning about the details pertaining to labor and childbirth is an important part of preparation, there’s no way it will give you complete control over your labor. There are countless twists that your labor can take and there’s no way anyone can guess what the experience is going to be like for you.
2. Gather Support
The next thing that you need to do is figure out whether you wish to have a doula around during labor and delivery or not. Just so you know, doulas are non-medical professionals who have been trained to provide emotional and physical support as well as information to women during pregnancy and labor.
A number of research studies have shown that the continuous support offered by a doula leads to shorter labor times together with a decreased need for epidurals, C-sections, oxytocin for induction and forceps. Another research study concluded that women who received support through a hospital-based doula program were more likely to attempt breastfeeding.
Doulas are basically professionals that are trained in childbirth and are responsible for providing emotional, education and physical support to expectant mothers, women during labor and even those who have recently given birth. The doula’s purpose is to help women have a safe, memorable, and empowering birthing experience.
A few more details
The term doula typically refers to the birth doula or labor support companion. However, there also happens to be antepartum doulas and postpartum doulas. You will have a birth doula around during labor who will offer assistance to you to make sure that your childbirth experience is as positive as possible.
3. Talk it Out with Your Partner
It’s extremely important for you to discuss in detail with your partner as to how he can help you during labor. But with that, it’s equally vital that you discuss what you'll need from each other during the newborn period. Remember, if the two of you have different expectations at that point, there’s a good chance that you will face major conflicts, so it's best to work this out ahead of time.
There’s no need at all for you to just assume that your partner knows how much your baby is going to change your lives or how you will need him to help out. On the one hand, he may be wanting to keep up with his regular gym visits or weekly poker nights, while you're thinking he'll be on the couch most evenings holding the baby so you can get a break. This difference in expectations can lead to major trouble down the line, so it’s best for the two of you to talk about things.
Make things easier
In order to make things easier for yourself and your partner, it’s necessary for the two of you to be on the same page. This is going to make it possible for him to help you when you are in labor, caring for a new baby, taking care of household duties, making important decisions, and more.
4 Know What to Do When Labor Starts
You need to have a firm plan on hand as to who to call, where to go and when long before you go into labor. Your doctor or midwife is going to give you a clear set of instructions on what you have to do when you go into labor. This will include things like who to call and when to rush to the hospital or birth center. It’s important for you to decide beforehand who will take you there, and have a few back-up folks lined up to help if you need it.
You must also know the route that you will take. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but having worked this out well in advance is going to give you one less thing to worry about during labor. This includes learning where to park and which entrance to use when it's time to check yourself in.
It will be easily possible for you to work on these logistics by simply taking a tour of the hospital or birth center. During the tour, you will also be able to learn about basic policies and check out the labor room and nursery. If you can, register for the delivery ahead of time and get the paperwork out of the way. When labor rolls around, you'll be able to bypass all the hassles and just work your way in.
Learn a bit more about labor
Find out how to distinguish actual labor from false labor, what to do when your water breaks and figure out the fastest way to the maternity ward. Know where the entrance is and where to park your car. This may seem like overkill, but when that moment arrives, knowing these details will help your peace of mind and reduce stress.
3 Become Friends with a New Mom
Experience can provide a lot of help, particularly when you speak with a new mom who has experienced things like postpartum depression and decreased libido. Not all mothers experience this, but first-hand information enables you to calmly face any situation. You can also find chat boards and parenting sites online, where visitors exchange the latest information and parenting tips. If you don’t personally know any new mothers, check out mother’s clubs for support and more information.
The fact of the matter is that there are countless things about labor and childbirth that tend to remain under wraps for some reason or other. These include things like leaking pee, diminished sex drive and the baby blues to begin with. Although there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a similar experience, but becoming informed ahead of time is seriously going to reduce the shock factor when the time comes.
For instance, some people may tell you that you will start bonding with your baby right after delivery, but this isn’t really true for all women. Finding honest people who are willing to share their experiences can help you adjust your expectations.
You need to be judicious
That’s truly very important. In case your friend starts going on and on about how her cousin’s labor was worsened by a rare-but-terrifying condition, then you need to ask her to stop and give you some helpful suggestions as to how to cope with labor pain.
2 Keep Believing in Your Body
You need to bear in mind the fact that your body has been designed to grow a baby for nine months and it has the potential to bring your baby into the world. Your pelvis and vaginal tissues have been built for delivery, your brain knows when to release endorphins to assist in dealing with pain and your baby is going to be born with a soft spot on her head so it can mold to fit through the birth canal.
So each time you look at your ever-expanding belly in the shower and start to panic over how that baby is going to squeeze out of there, keep telling yourself that giving birth is completely natural and your body knows how to deal with it.The next thing that you need to do is learn to let go.
Each night before going to bed, just tense and release various muscle groups in your body while focusing on each part of your body from head to toe. Also known as ‘progressive relaxation’, this exercise is going to teach you to isolate muscle groups so you become more aware of them during labor. It will also assist you in making them more lax and limp.
Kick away all negativity
It’s believed by most childbirth educators that things like catastrophic tales, graphic images and words of discouragement can have a major effect on your subconscious. In time, it may lead to a mental block during labor, so make sure that you kick away all negativity from your mind.
1 Pack Your Bag
When you go into labor, the last thing you’d want to worry about is having to pack your bag. For this reason, it’s best for you to keep your bag packed a few weeks before your due date. In addition to the essentials, think about personal items that can make your hospital stay more comfortable. For instance, you may want to bring in your favorite slippers so you’ll be comfortable walking around the hospital.
Also, it’s highly recommended for you to stock up on the essentials for after delivering your baby. Your baby is going to require things like diapers, an installed car seat, wipes, clothing and a safe place to sleep. Also, if you plan on bottle feeding, you will need to get your hands on a couple of bottles as well. On the other hand, if you want to breastfeed, you will also require nursing bras and pads.
Beyond that, the essentials that you may need are going to depend on your personal needs, so make sure that you take those into consideration.
A final bit of advice
Last, but not least, it’s also essential for you to stock up on household must-haves before the birth to avoid trips to the store afterward. Pantry staples, frozen food, toiletries, medicine, toilet paper, shampoo, and even extra pairs of underwear will come in very handy.