How to Prepare for Labor and Delivery
The last few weeks of pregnancy always seem to be the longest. However, the big day often arrives sooner than we expect it to. Before you eventually hold your baby in your arms for the first time, take advantage of the third trimester to prepare for labor and delivery. Learning how to recognize signs of labor or considering birthing options are just a few of the things you should take care of before childbirth.
Shall I Take a Childbirth Class?Before the big day arrives, it is essential to learn as much as possible about labor and delivery. Today, information about childbirth can be found everywhere, for instance, on television, on the internet, in magazines and in books.Attending childbirth classes is also a good idea, as you can get helpful information directly from professionals. They can answer all of your questions and you can be sure that you are getting reliable information, something which is not always guaranteed when you look on the internet. The medical team will give you some precious tips and advice about your pregnancy, childbirth and post-delivery, when baby will be there with you. In addition, you will be able to talk to other moms-to-be and share your personal experiences.
How Do I Find Information about Labor & Delivery?Reading books or watching videos about labor and delivery are great ways to prepare for baby’s arrival. Try also to learn how to recognize signs of labor and what to do when it starts. Not only will this teach you many important things, it will also help you to feel less nervous about the pain caused by childbirth. In fact, stress can make labor and delivery more painful. Knowing more about pregnancy and childbirth can help you to unwind.
Natural Childbirth, C-section or Epidural: How Do I Choose?In addition to choosing the hospital and your doctor, you also need to inform your medical team about your wishes and expectations for labor and delivery, for instance, your preferences concerning pain management and the epidural. It's best to ask your doctor or midwife to give you all the key information and advice that will help you to make the best decisions for you and your baby.
Remember that things don’t always go as planned. Be prepared to be flexible and be willing to accept changes. You could, for instance, end up with doctors recommending that you have a cesarean section even though your preference was for a vaginal birth.
What Exercises Can Help Me Prepare for Labor and Delivery?Some exercises are great to help you prepare for childbirth. By strengthening your muscles, they ease labor and delivery. To prevent any risks, seek advice from your doctor first.
Kegel exercises are useful for strengthening and toning the pelvic floor muscles that help support the pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and bowels). These exercises, for instance, help prevent hemorrhoids or urinary leakage, often experienced by women when they get pregnant. One way to perform this exercise is to quickly contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for a few seconds and then relax. The routine must be repeated several times.
You can also try squatting. These movements are perfect during labor to open the pelvic outlet and encourage the baby to descend. As squatting is tiring, especially with a nine months belly, you should practice it regularly throughout the pregnancy.Pelvic tilt exercises are very helpful for releasing backpain that often occurs during pregnancy and labor. They are also great for facilitating the delivery.
What to Pack in My Hospital BagPreparing your hospital bag beforehand is a good way to avoid forgetting anything for your hospital stay. You won’t have time or energy for this when you will be in labor. Preparing things in advance will make you feel less stressed.Some of the things you should pack include:
- Basic hygiene products and toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, a brush, headband, hair clips, lotion, lip balm, soap, shampoo, deodorant, sanitary pads, etc.);
- Large and comfy clothes, bathrobe, nightgown, warm socks;
- Underwear (bras and maternity underpants);
- Things that will make your stay more comfortable (slippers, snacks, books, magazines, crosswords book, a pen and a notebook, music, and headphones);
- Eyeglasses, contact lenses;
- A camera, batteries, your phone, your charger, etc.
- Hospital paperwork (birth plan, insurance cards, ID).
Don’t forget to prepare your baby’s bag as you will need quite a few items for him or her as well. Your partner might consider packing his own too.
Who Will Be with Me in the Delivery Room?Some women prefer to do this by themselves, with no one apart from the doctors and midwives in the room. Other want their partner or co-parent to be with them, or their best friend, for instance, if they choose to have a baby alone. There are also women who ask their spouse, their parents, friends, and grandparents to be present to support them. This is a very personal decision. It is important to take the time to give it a thought. In any case, you will be able to change your mind when the big moment arrives. If you wanted to be by yourself and you finally need your partner to be there, don’t hesitate to say so.
Can Yoga and Meditation Help to Prepare for Labor and Delivery?Many women find yoga and meditation a good help to prepare for childbirth. Through poses, pregnancy yoga can teach you to control your breath. This is a good way to feel more relax and it can help you reduce labor pain. By doing these movements, you will be able to release your back tensions as well as other important parts of your body. You will need it when you will welcome your baby to the world.
Practicing meditation is also helpful when it comes to managing pain. It can help you deal with the discomfort you might experience when baby arrives.