Pregnancy is a long journey, and childbirth is hard work; probably the most challenging thing you will ever do in your life. However, some preparation should help ease labor and your transition into motherhood.
However, the vast amount of information on labor and childbirth online, from family and social circles, can cause an information overload, leading to panic. Nonetheless, don’t fret because regardless of whether you are a new mom or a subsequent pregnancy, less is more when preparing for labor. Below are six childbirth preparation tips for facilitating a seamless transition into post-partum life.
1. Regular Checkups
Regular pregnancy checkups are vital, especially in the third trimester, because they reduce the chances of complications. Such conditions include preeclampsia (hypertension and water retention), fetal macrosomia (overgrown fetus, dangerous for vaginal birth), and placental abruption.
Although doctors perform multiple tests during a routine prenatal checkup, an ultrasound scan is arguably the most crucial test for a mother’s and baby’s health and well-being a baby. Ultrasound scans give vital information regarding labour and delivery by assessing fetal wellbeing, placenta position, fetal presentation, amniotic fluid volume, and fetus cardiac activity.
Second, the scans monitor first and second-level labor progression and generate automated measurement data to facilitate prompt decision-making during an emergency. Some health institutions offer dedicated packages as part of the regular prenatal checkup.
2. Join A Birth Class
Childbirth classes build on the pillar that childbirth and labor are natural and healthy processes. The classes help expectant moms ease labor anxiety and build confidence in their body’s ability to endure labor. Second, the classes create bonding opportunities for the pregnant mom and their respective partners or designated individuals in their support circles.
According to one qualitative study on childbirth classes, expectant mothers who attend birth classes retain useful skills, like breathing and relaxation techniques, long after giving birth. Second, surveys from the study also showed that the women developed self-advocacy skills over their bodies and anticipatory guidance, empowering them to ask pertinent questions.
The study concluded that birth classes are the second primary labor information authority after primary caregivers. A childbirth class helps you create an actionable and flexible birth plan, regardless of whether you intend to have a vaginal birth or a C-section.
Therefore, a birth class is a valuable time and money investment when preparing for labor. Childbirth classes build on different techniques or models, including the Lamaze method, the Bradley method, and the Alexander technique.
While the above methods have slight differences, they share several overarching themes. These themes include improving the mother’s movement via exercise, developing relaxation techniques, partner participation during labor, and labor-friendly nutrition. Most birth classes last 12 hours but are spread over 12 weeks, so consider joining a birth class at the end of your second trimester.
3. Prepare With Pelvic Floor Exercises and Pain Management Techniques
Childbirth exercises, like pelvic floor exercises, ease pregnancy-related discomforts and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles to bear the strain associated with labor and childbirth. Such activities also help prevent or reduce the severity of major post-partum health issues like stress incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises accelerate the rate at which the pelvic muscles heal post-partum.
Typical pelvic floor exercises include Kegels, deep squats, deadlifts, and select yoga poses like the child’s pose and the quadruped cow. However, pelvic muscles are challenging to isolate, especially for a newbie.
Therefore, consider consulting a physical therapist or a pelvic floor nurse (urogynecologist) for guidance. Such experts also recommend pelvic floor exercise routines and frequency. Besides routine pelvic floor exercises, regularly practice pain management techniques like breathing exercises so that they can kick in instinctively during labor.
4. Pack Your Hospital Bag
A hospital bag contains the essential items you and your newborn will need during your stay in the hospital. However, most mothers focus entirely on packing for the baby and forget about themselves. Therefore, prioritize your needs when packing hospital bag essentials.
According to the American American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the average hospital stay for a complication-free birth is 48 hours for a vaginal delivery and 96 hours for a C-section. Therefore, pack your hospital bag accordingly.
Mothers with home birth plans also need a hospital bag in case of an emergency. Your hospital bag should be ready three weeks before your due date.
5. Stay Positive
A positive mindset makes everything better, including your labor and childbirth experience. A positive attitude helps you maintain a pregnancy-friendly diet, get enough sleep and exercise; these are three critical ingredients for positive labor.
One study on the correlation between a pregnant mother’s attitude towards labor and the length of the labor showed that a negative mindset prolonged the first two stages of labor. Therefore, stay positive and share any fears you may have with a partner or health worker to get reassurance.
6. Do A Logistical Run
Your due date is an estimate, and one report shows that out of 100 women, 60 give birth on or before their due date and 35 after their due date. Therefore, stay ready and figure out the shortest, traffic-free route to get you to your hospital.
Second, familiarize yourself with hospital grounds, like the nearest entrance to the maternity ward and parking protocols. You can conduct a logistical dry run to iron out possible kinks.
Labor and childbirth are natural processes, but preparation boosts your confidence and keeps you calm. Therefore, follow the tips below to stay grounded and have a positive birthing experience, regardless of your birth plan.