Take Practical Steps to help prepare for birth
If you are in your final trimester you will no doubt be thinking about how to prepare for birth especially if this is your first baby. I will let you into a secret; it is 100% normal to feel nervous even when it isn’t your first baby. You might even feel panicked as you prepare for birth, but don’t worry there are ways you can help yourself feel more ready and this post is all about that; helping you to prepare for birth and to feel like you got this!!
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When you are preparing to give birth you may feel a lack of control – well I know I did! This is maybe one time in your life where you just can’t control the situation as baby has a say too… However, you can take practical steps to give you back a feeling of control and get everything in order for this super exciting time in your life.
Prepare your Mind for birth
Pack your hospital bag
Personally I am quite superstitious and don’t like to do this until close to the due date, but I know that once it is done I always feel better and it is a great way to prepare for birth and know that you have everything organised for your little one.
For my recommendation of what to include check this post out:
Do your research
There is that saying forewarned is forearmed and when you are preparing to give birth I think knowledge is so important to help you have peace of mind
Knowing what to expect as you prepare to give birth won’t change how your labour goes, but it will enable you to feel empowered as you have conversations with your midwives and doctors.
Having knowledge about what to expect can also enable you to feel more relaxed as you get closer to giving birth and staying calm is important.
Some books that you may find helpful when getting prepared for birth are: [amazon bestseller=”pregnancy books” items=”4″]
There is also, of course, a benefit in chatting to friends that already have babies, but I warn you that people always feel the need to share a horror story so take it all with a grain of salt and try to avoid conversations that freak you out. I am not going to lie to you giving birth is not a walk in the park and it isn’t always candles and meditative breathing, but hearing every intense story will not help you as you prepare for birth.
Take an antenatal course
You might want to take an antenatal course. The NHS in your local area may have a free one or you can look to take an NCT course.
Not only do these antenatal courses give you loads of information about pain relief, contractions and what to expect, the stages of labour and how to care for your newborn, but they are also a fab way to meet other mums to be in your local area.
This time is not just about taking steps to prepare for birth, but also preparing for the next phase of your life as a mother and believe me you will need other new mum friends.
If you aren’t sure that NCT is for you definitely have a look on local parenting Facebook groups as in my area there are people running private small group sessions and there is also the option of a Doula if you prefer something more one to one *as an aside I can’t over state the importance of creating a group of mummy friends who are at the same stage as you so even if you do some one to one sessions a group class has huge benefits outside of learning.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you prepare for birth. You will be seeing a midwife, maybe a consultant and your GP so if you have concerns about the process of giving birth then don’t feel bad for asking. They may have heard the questions a million times before, but they won’t mind answering them again honestly!
Write a prepare for birth plan
Back to the idea of taking a bit of control you can write a birth plan. This plan can be useful for you just to think through the whole process whilst you prepare for birth. It is certainly sensible to think about what you would like in terms of pain relief or interventions.
As you prepare for birth a birth plan is a way of getting your mind ready for the reality of having a baby, but I wouldn’t get too wedded to it if I were you. That is why I have called it a prepare for birth plan as on the day your baby dictates what happens. It is great for your midwife to know you would like a water birth, but that isn’t always what is right for your baby or for you.
When I had my first child I loved how my birth plan sounded and I was so excited to have the experience that I had planned, but my baby boy had other ideas and I was really disappointed to have not been able to execute the plan. Ultimately it didn’t matter birth is birth and so I only say this to caution against become birth plan obsessed like me 😊
If you haven’t ever done meditation before then as you prepare for birth is a great time to start. There are loads of guided meditation tracks on itunes and spotify which are so fantastic for helping you to relax as you prepare to give birth.
If you are feeling nervous or apprehensive meditation can help you to manage that anxiety and if not then meditation is just a great way to get your body and your mind ready for labour.
Prepare for birth by preparing your body
I know you might be thinking I have lost my mind suggesting exercise if you are 35 weeks pregnant and reading this, but honestly it helps to get your body prepared for giving birth and is just a really positive way to spend your time in those last few weeks before giving birth.
Let’s be clear though I am not suggesting taking up exercise and suddenly trying to go running or doing a HITT class or anything. You need to be sensible and if you aren’t sure speak to your health professionals and check out the NHS website
Exercise that is great when you are pregnant includes yoga, walking and swimming. Personally, I went swimming every day at the end of my first pregnancy and taught swimming until I was 35 weeks pregnant with my twins. I could barely walk on land at that stage, but swimming was still a joy.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Do those kegels ladies… This is an investment in your future and is seriously worth the time. Who knows whether the kegels were responsible, but I have had four kids and I can still trampoline without fear 😊
I won’t claim to have tried this myself, but my NCT teacher recommended massaging the perineum (the bit between your bottom and your vagina) with a natural oil like olive oil (from the chemist rather than the supermarket – any left is then fab for baby massage). The idea is that is helps to stretch out the area and it is supposed to reduce the chances of tearing.
Prepare for the post partum period
It isn’t all about preparing for birth you also need to get ready for the period after having your baby. None of us truly know what our experience of giving will be; even with a planned C section you don’t know how easily you will recover so it is sensible to get prepared before you have your baby for helping yourself to recover from giving birth.
There are few things I would 100% recommend having ready to go:
- An Icepack – so useful for soothing any pain whether in the perineum area, a section scar or from nipples
- Nipple cream – I am a big fan of Camillosan for this. Having a set of nipple shields might also be a great idea. I always liken the first few days of breastfeeding to the first few days of summer where you put your flip flops on again after a long winter… the nipples need to toughen up!
- Maternity Pads – get more than you think you will need
- Bed Mats – you can get waterproof bed mats designed for potty training which work a treat when you have just had a baby and the best thing is you can wash them and use them in your baby’s cot
Doing a load of batch cooking whilst you prepare to give birth is a fab idea. You will thank yourself once baby arrives as newborn babies eat time!
Knowing that you have meals ready to go in the freezer will be a real relief when you are breastfeeding, not sleeping as much as you might like and changing nappies. It is also really positive for your post-partum recovery to be eating well.
Ask for help
If there is a chance of any family giving you a hand in that first week or so then ask them to help!
Having even just a few minutes to have a bath or sit quietly on your own or have a nap will make a huge difference to how you feel.
You may not be comfortable even letting your own mother be with the baby when you aren’t there, but perhaps you could let your partner mind the baby and ask your mother to wash some clothes or prep dinner so you can rest.
I am rubbish at asking for help and believe me I have regretted this each time I had a baby. You need to look after yourself as well as your newborn. I have written all about the importance of selfcare for new mums here – book mark it now for once baby arrives:
I hope that this has given you some ideas to help you prepare for birth and feel a little more in control as you head into this new chapter of your life. Remember even if you do feel apprehensive of what is to come it will all be worth it when you hold that baby in your arms for the first time.