Preparing for childbirth and labor can feel like an overwhelming task. Thorough labor prep can greatly reduce your stress and anxiety before and during your delivery. Here is our comprehensive preparation list of the top 10 tips to help Mom’s to be prepare for childbirth and labor:
Prepare your body
Getting good exercise during your pregnancy will prepare your body for the stress of childbirth. Pregnancy yoga is not only an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, but it will also improve your strength, endurance and flexibility. Many gyms and even some hospitals have classes exclusively for moms to be.
Prepare your mind
It is completely normal to feel anxiety about childbirth and labor. Even women who have had multiple births can still feel anxious and even scared about giving birth. Learning all you can about what to expect before, during and after birth will help you to feel more prepared.
Prepare your home
In addition to having the nursery in order, it is also important to have baskets or bags of baby essentials placed in other places around the house, like the bedroom and the living room. These could include several diapers, a couple of onesies, a blanket or two, and some diapering ointment. This can save you some much needed energy in the first few weeks after baby’s arrival. If you are having a home birth, begin collecting and setting up your supplies around 36 weeks.
Prepare your pet
If you have not yet had your pet professionally trained, the ASPCA recommends that you do so prior to baby’s arrival. Basic manners like sit, stay, polite greetings and please go away are particularly important. Your third trimester is a good time to begin implementing any anticipated changes to your pet’s routine, such as outside time and feeding schedule.
Make a birth plan
Having a birth plan is one of the best ways to prepare for your delivery. A birth plan will contain details about where you would like to give birth, what type of environment you would like (i.e. soft lighting, music or essential oils), and who you would like in the room. We have a free E-book on Creating Your Ideal Birth Plan that is an excellent source for what to include in your birth plan. While making your plan it is important to stay flexible and understand that things do not always go according to plan during labor!
Make an after birth plan
Have at least a couple of weeks of meals either prepared and frozen or planned out with grocery lists included. Decide ahead of time who, if anyone, will be visiting or staying to help out. If you have a cesarean, planned or unexpected, you will not be able to drive or lift anything for several weeks, so you will need to have your postpartum support lined up.
Take a class
It’s never too early to get enrolled in a childbirth course, particularly for first time parents. Whatever your birth plan, these classes will teach you all of the baby basics. If you choose to breastfeed, the breastfeeding classes are an invaluable resource. The more you learn, the more prepared you are going to feel when baby arrives!
Pack your bag
Have your bag packed and ready to go at around 36 weeks. If you are planning a home birth, it is still a good idea to have a bag packed in the event you need to go to the hospital unexpectedly. Here is a general checklist of things to include in your hospital bag:
- Nursing bra and breast pads (if you are breastfeeding)
- Massage oil or lotion if you feel massage will help during labor
- Lip balm
- Snacks and drinks
- Things to help you pass the time, such as a book, game, magazine etc…
- Hair band to put your hair up
- Chargers for phone and/or computer
- An extra pillow or 2 (The hospital may not have enough for you to be comfortable)
- A favorite blanket
- Comfortable postpartum clothes
- Baby book
- Baby’s going home outfit, blanket and a couple of onesies
Pre-register at the hospital (If that is part of your birth plan)
Most hospitals will allow parents to pre-register for their stay. This gives you the opportunity to fill out most of the required forms ahead of time so on delivery day you won’t have quite so much paperwork to go through. This is also a great time to get a tour of labor and delivery. Familiarizing yourself with the hospital will help you to visualize your birth experience more clearly and ease any anxiety about not knowing where to go. It is recommended your preregistration and tour be completed at the end of your second trimester or the beginning of your third.
Ask all the questions
The adage “there’s no such thing as a dumb question” is 100% true when it comes to labor and delivery. If you are worried or anxious about anything, ask about it! It is hands down better to have peace of mind about your questions than to let them go unanswered and potentially make your birth experience more difficult. Here are a few suggestions, but we encourage you to have a notebook for your own list of questions that are specific to your situation.
- At what point should I come to the hospital?
- Where do I go first when I am in labor?
- Can I wear my own gown or do I have to wear a hospital gown?
- What is the policy on eating and drinking while in labor?
- Will I be able to walk, use a birthing ball, sit in a tub, etc…?
- What are my options for breast feeding assistance?
- If I choose pain control, what are my options and their side effects?
Top 10 Tips to Help You Prepare for Childbirth and Labor