How do I prepare for birth during my pregnancy?
If you have just found out you are pregnant, congratulations! Now what? Caroline May, shares what you need to think about. How do I prepare for the birth? How to prepare for birth comes down to how your pregnancy goes and how you want to deliver your baby – and then all those plans can be undone in a moment! Now you’re not thinking about conceiving, it’s time to start thinking about carrying your baby and delivering her!
Lock in your birth arrangements early
Read more on choosing where to have your baby
Among other things, now is the time to think about where you want to have your baby. Public hospital? Private hospital? Birth centre? Home? Some places limit the number of birthing women they can take so it is a good idea to book in early. You can always change your mind! Research your options and ask questions. Are you likely to get the type of birth you want in the place you have chosen? If you know you definitely want an epidural for example, then a birth centre is obviously not for you, but if you know you want to avoid drugs then a home birth or birth centre might be your perfect choice.
How to prepare for birth – physically
Read more on how to get Physically Ready
Get prepared physically and mentally. Pregnancy is not the time to begin an exercise regime if you are not usually active, but swimming, walking and pregnancy yoga or pilates are good low impact forms of exercise that can be done by most people. Make sure you discuss this with your midwife or doctor first though if you have any pregnancy or medical complications or haven’t exercised for a while. Preparing for birth is about making sure your body is in the best possible condition for this big, big event coming its way. Putting additional strain on your body right now can do wayyyy more harm than good. It’s vital to choose a fitness routine that is going to benefit your changing body. Don’t do anything without talking to a health professional as strenuous exercise in pregnancy can cause hernias and other complications.
Preparing Your Mental Strength
A lot of the birthing process is about mental strength so think positive. Everybody loves to share their stories about birth, be they good or bad, though more commonly the bad ones. Surround yourself with the people who make you feel good and empower you, not the ones that want to frighten you. You can do it. Mental preparation for birth is all about how you want to manage it. Childbirth is an experience that can’t be dictated by anybody else – so if you’re a yoga and meditation girl, focus on that. If you’re an epidural and elective c-section girl – mentally prepare for epidural pros and cons and the recovery from your surgery.
Preparing your… Vagina for the Big Day – Perineal Massage
If you are later on in your pregnancy and this is your first baby, or first vaginal birth, perineal massage may help to prevent tears (both pronunciations apply here!) This can be done by you or your partner and has other benefits such as getting you used to some of the sensations you may experience as the head is birthing so they are not as overwhelming. The following websites have some good information on how to perform this:
Preparing For When Things Don’t Go To Plan – Get Informed
Unexpected things can and do happen during pregnancy and birth. There are endless possibilities, so it is really important to read, research and get as much information as you can. By information I don’t mean those horror stories, I mean good quality, well researched information that you would be willing to make a life changing decision based on. How to prepare for birth complications is a loaded question. Dr Google is likely to frighten you and share terrible stories. Remember that preparing for birth is about knowing enough about the birthing process that if something does go wrong, you have some control to make informed decisions. There are a lot of rare and unlikely complications that will not affect you. Don’t let your research around childbirth freak you out – informed, not frightened is the best way to prepare for birth.
Caroline May qualified as a Midwife in 1999 and has worked in both community and hospital settings around Australia and in the UK. Currently residing in Perth with her partner and two young children, Caroline is particularly interested in home and waterbirth and is passionate about enabling women to make an informed decision and play an active role in their care. You can find all her articles here.