Five positive ways to prepare for labour
By Sara Keli
While nine months can seem like a very long time – and to a pregnant woman who is unable to sleep, it is a hell of a long time – the day you welcome your baby will arrive in a flash. It’s the start of the most amazing journey of your life … one that is unpredictable and unimaginable.
So how do you prepare for the day you meet your baby? Here are five positive ways to prepare for labour.
Take birth classes
When it comes to labour, you don’t even know what you don’t know … so one thing you can do is to educate yourself on what you are about to experience. You might prefer to not know, but really, the more knowledge you have about your options and the better your understanding of the process of labour, the better equipped you will be to make the right choices for you and your baby.
Many hospitals run birth classes where you will learn about labour and also about early baby care. There are also private options that you can look into, as well as online courses and books (Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills is a popular choice).
Your doctor or midwife is there to guide you safely through this journey, so ask them whatever questions you have. Speak with other mums who have been there and done that, and seek information wherever you can. This is your body and your birth experience, and education will help empower you to a better outcome.
Write a birth plan
Labour can be very unpredictable, so having a rigid birth plan can set you up for disappointment. Instead, work on a flexible birth plan that simply lists your preferences in an ideal world. You could start by answering some of the below questions:
- Do you want the lights on and off while you are labouring?
- Would you like to listen to music or burn essential oils?
- Who do you want in the room with you during labour and childbirth?
- Who will be the first person you call to tell them that your baby has been born?
- What kind of pain relief do you think you will be open to?
- If you require a caesarean, where will the baby go while you are being stitched up?
You and your partner should share your birth plan with your doctor or midwife in advance so they know your preferences. You should also check with your hospital as to what they allow so you can plan adequately.
Once you go into labour, your preferences and feelings may change completely, but at least those around you will have some idea of what you want.
Learn relaxation techniques
Labour tends to progress much more smoothly when you are calm and relaxed. While that might seem impossible when you are about to push a baby out of your vagina, learning some relaxation techniques before the baby arrives will really help you focus on the moment and it can also be a great pain reliever.
Hypnobirthing is a very popular technique that many women choose to follow. You can attend classes that will teach you techniques for a calm and present birth.
If you don’t like the idea of attending classes, focus on learning breathing or meditation techniques that you can take into the delivery suite with you – there are videos on YouTube and apps that can help.
Try perineal massage
Perineal massage can be effective at helping your perineum prepare for what is about to happen, which can, in turn, reduce your risk of tearing during childbirth. Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone, but doing something proactively beforehand can help you feel like you’re doing something to help your body get ready for what lies ahead.
You can start perineal massage from 35 weeks of pregnancy and you only need to do it about once or twice per week. You can read more about it – including how to do it – here, or speak to your doctor or midwife, who will be able to provide advice.
Pack your hospital bag
Getting your hospital bag packed early can be a weight off your mind as you prepare for the arrival of your baby. If there is anything in your birth plan you’ll need to take with you, such as essential oils, make sure these are packed in advance so you don’t forget them in the mad dash to the hospital. Keep the bag close to the front door so you can grab it as you leave – or, if you’re extra nervous you’ll forget, you can even keep it in your car!
You are nearly there – the end line is in sight. Enjoy the rest of your pregnancy and know that labour is the only thing standing between you and holding that delightful baby of yours tightly in your arms.