Is your due date approaching? Do you feel ready and prepared about it? After months of being pregnant, the anticipation and enthusiasm for childbirth are high for parents. After all, who wouldn’t be excited to welcome their little into life. But sooner or later, exhaustion and fatigue can catch up with us. Women often go into labor unsure and clueless about the multitude of physiological and psychological challenges waiting for them. Being unprepared in such turbulent times can further add to our woes.
Preparing yourself emotionally and physically is the key to a successful child birthing process. It will help you in staying confident and relieving stress. You can make the best postpartum plans for yourself and your newborn if you are empowered and ready to take on the new challenge of motherhood. Here are a few things you should take care of to manage and stay in control of your childbirth experience:
1. Gather Information
Having good knowledge about your own body, pregnancy, childbirth, and related areas will prepare you better for the upcoming days. The Internet is a great source of information though you need to be careful in identifying reliable sources. You can also tune in to TV and radio programs that educate and help with pregnancy-related topics. Talk to other fellow mothers or would-be mothers, friends, and relatives. And most importantly, don’t be shy to ask your doctor about things related to childbirth. When you have a good overall knowledge of childbirth, you would notice how much it can boost your confidence while taking important decisions.
2. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
A pelvic floor is a group of muscles that supports the uterus and other reproductive organs. Strengthening of the pelvic floor helps in containing the strain of carrying the fetus in the body. It prevents muscle ruptures and eases the pushing-out during labor, thus making childbirth easier (1).
Pelvic floor muscles can be targeted to be strengthened by a variety of workout methods. Squats and Kegels are well-known methods. For expecting mothers, it would be advisable to seek professional help when undergoing any form of hard exercise, and not to mention the prior approval of the doctor. A strong set of pelvic floor muscles will continue to give health benefits even after childbirth.
3. Have A Bag Packed With All The Essentials
If your due date is near, you should be prepared with the essentials to avoid last-minute hassles. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Have a copy of your birth plan.
- Keep all your documents and reports ready to avoid any last-minute confusion.
- Pack your toiletries, sanitary pads (make sure these can tackle heavy flow) to maintain good hygiene after childbirth.
- Power eyeglasses (if you wear one), a phone, a wire-free charger, and credit/debit cards are essentials you cannot miss.
- Keep loose clothing (preferably light-colored), nursing dresses, soft organic undergarments, slippers, cozy blankets, and pillows handy for your hospital stay.
4. Learn Drug-Free Pain Management
If you have the least tolerance to pain, this could help you massively before and after your delivery. While the doctor can prescribe you drugs to ease the pain with an epidural block, spinal block, and opioids, try some natural techniques before your labor arrives (2). With regular relaxation, controlled breathing techniques, massages, and music therapy, pain can be lessened (3).
5. Practice Healthy Eating
Eating a clean and nutrient-dense diet is the best way to support your body and nourish it to endure a painful delivery. A pregnant mom should fuel her body with pregnancy superfoods like fish, lean meat, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and nuts to prepare her body for labor. Supplements and fortified foods can help you bridge nutrition gaps so that you deliver a healthy baby (4).
6. Familiarize Yourself With Your Birth Center
If possible, try to visit the hospital where the delivery is planned and take a tour. This will help you in taking charge if and when the need arises. Being familiar with the hospital will help you in quickly navigating the premises in urgent situations. Also, the familiarity might also have a calming effect on you during delivery.
7. Practice Mindfulness And Meditation
Learn to skim out the clutter in your mind if you want to enjoy some mental peace during labor. Seek advice only from trusted sources and try to stay away from anything that may promote negativity and distress. During the pregnancy and childbirth phases, a mother’s mental health has much bearing on the child. Meditating regularly and warding off anxiety as you near your due date will help you deal better with your pregnancy woes (5).
8. Seek Labor Companionship
Stay in touch with your near and dear ones when your delivery date is just around the corner. Labor companionship refers to the care and support provided to the mother when she delivers her baby. This can be given by the partner, parents, friends, or the healthcare provider. The World Health Organization (WHO) places a strong focus on labor companionship to promote quality maternal healthcare (6). It’s a natural human yearning to enjoy the companionship of people we like during the tough yet exciting time of childbirth.
9. Have Backup Plans
Planning is the best way to stay organized: Plan A, Plan B, or Plan C if required. Whether it is a home birth or one at the hospital, have all your plans put together. If your baby is breech, you could end up at the birth center instead of having a home birth. Also, when complications like hypertension, preeclampsia, and diabetes develop, or you’re overdue, you may undergo induced labor. So, do have backup plans to be ready for situations when things don’t go exactly as planned. Just be sure not to obsess too much over these plans. Backup plans are to reduce your stress not to increase them further!
Keep in mind that despite the best preparations, you may still have plenty of surprises in stride. Pushing a baby out of your body is an excruciating task. You can never be all set for what lies ahead. However, don’t let your fears weigh you down because labor is a fresh experience each time. Did you face a unique experience while delivering your baby, one that you were never prepared for? Feel free to share your childbirth stories with us in the comments section below!
- What You Should Know About Your Pelvic Floor: Pre-pregnancy During Pregnancy And After Giving Birth
- Labor and delivery: Pain medications
- Perinatal Music Therapy and Antenatal Music Classes: Principles
- Pregnancy diet: Focus on these essential nutrients
- Meditation and Mindfulness in Pregnancy and Postpartum: A Review of the Evidence
- Why Having A Companion During Labour And Childbirth May Be Better For You