Whether you’re a first time mom or a seasoned parent with multiple kids, thinking about labor can be stressful! It’s normal to feel anxious and worried about what labor will be like. Each labor and delivery process is unique, and what a mother experiences with one baby may differ greatly from the next baby. If you are feeling apprehensive about labor and delivery, here are some of our most helpful tips for preparation!
- Realize that enduring labor is as much a mental process as it is physical.
Even though pain is physical, our mental state can allow us to endure extreme difficulty. Having a positive mindset can help ease the anxiousness and nervousness surrounding labor and delivery.
Seasoned parents love to tell horror stories about childbirth - but realize that for every terrifying labor story, there are many, many more positive ones. If your friends try to scare you and make labor seem like a chaotic, life-threatening, grueling process, try to take it with a grain of salt and instead imagine how beautiful and empowering it can be.
Try meditation and relaxation techniques that help you form a positive picture in your mind about labor. Imagine that you will have an easy, smooth labor and delivery process with minimal interventions. Imagine the wonderful moment when you lay eyes on your baby for the first time. Picture how your family and friends will treasure and care for your new bundle of joy. A positive mindset can make all the difference!
- Educate yourself about labor and delivery.
The best way to ease anxiety about childbirth is to inform yourself as much as possible! Check out books from the library, talk to friends or family members, ask your doctor plenty of questions, and consider taking childbirth preparation classes, which are offered at many hospitals and clinics. Watch birth videos online and join forums on social media. Surround yourself with as much information as possible.
While childbirth classes aren’t necessary, they can be extremely helpful for first time parents. Typically, these classes are made up of a small group of expectant parents and an instructor. Classes can meet for several weeks or just a few days. Childbirth classes teach labor positions, pain management techniques, all about the labor and delivery process, different types of medical interventions, breastfeeding techniques, and newborn care. Taking childbirth classes can help you feel more educated and empowered about the birthing process!
- Make sure you are physically prepared.
Labor requires perseverance and strength! Even if you are not an athlete, it is important to exercise during pregnancy to prepare your muscles for labor. Going on daily walks can be a simple, easy way to burn some calories and build leg strength. Gentle exercises at a gym or fitness center can be a great way to stay in shape during pregnancy. Low impact exercises such as swimming or yoga are also wonderful ways to build strength and stamina in preparation for labor.
Many gyms and medical practices offer prenatal yoga classes. Yoga can be a great way to practice mindfulness and relieve stress. Prenatal yoga is a milder form of the practice and is safe for pregnancy.
Labor can last anywhere from hours to days, so it is beneficial to physically prepare your body. Going into labor in good health can make the process much smoother.
- Be sure to take time for self-care and relaxation.
Practice breathing techniques for labor. The more relaxed you are, the easier it is to endure contractions. A tense body only stalls the process. Learn to breathe through pain instead of fighting it.
Self-care is important for expecting mothers. Whether it’s taking a walk to the park, resting in a warm bath, or getting your nails done, be sure to take care of yourself and find ways to relax during pregnancy.
Meditation can be a powerful tool for preparing for labor. Having a sound mind-body connection is important for enduring labor and delivery. Learn to focus, trust yourself, and breathe with intention. This will help the labor process go smoother.
- Have a plan.
Having a plan in mind can ease nervousness about labor and delivery. Many moms choose to discuss, or even write down, a birth plan. Discuss birthing options with your doctor and do your own research to figure out a plan that fits your needs. For example, decide whether or not you want pain medication during labor. There are mild medications that can be given through an IV or very strong interventions such as epidurals. Figure out whether you want any medical interventions for pain, and make sure your doctor is aware.
Have a plan for the labor itself. Will you go to the hospital right when your water breaks, or will you try to labor at home? Where will older siblings go? Who will drive you to the hospital? Who will be in the delivery room?
Another way to plan is to pack a hospital bag and keep it in the car or by the front door. Pack things you’ll need during labor and after birth - cell phone chargers, nursing bras, diapers, chapstick, toiletries, a camera. Look up hospital bag packing lists online for examples.
Even second-time moms need to plan. Many hospitals offer tours of the labor and delivery ward to expectant parents. Sign up for a registration appointment and tour to rehearse how labor will go. Make sure the hospital is aware of your birth plan if you have one.
Follow these five tips and you’ll be sure to have a more relaxed vision for labor and delivery!