“Honey, it’s time!” That’s usually the cue for people to go crazy in movies. You know the scene. A woman tells her husband she’s in labor, then suddenly they are running around like their shirts are on fire! Don’t be like them. Preparing for birth now will save you from this insanity!
Pack a Good Bag
I’m writing this from the experience of a hospital birth. If you’re like most moms you’ll be staying at the hospital for 24-48 hours. Even if you’re delivering at home or a birth center, though, most of these tips will apply. You still want to have some supplies tucked away in a bag to get you prepared. There are two main categories of supplies: comfort and enjoyment.
Labor isn’t exactly the most comfortable moment in your life. They are things you can bring that will make things a bit better, though.
- Hair Ties– The last thing you want is sweaty hair in your face! If you have short hair, try a headband.
- Lip Balm– All those breathing exercises will dry out your lips.
- Robe– Hospital gowns aren’t exactly full coverage attire!
- Toiletries– You will want to freshen up before you go home.
You’re going to be keeping some odd hours during your hospital stay. Babies don’t really know their days from their nights at first. Pack a few things to make that time more enjoyable!
- Snacks– The cafeteria won’t always be open when you’re hungry. Packing food is especially important if you have food allergies/intolerances.
- Pillow– Hospital pillows are awful. Bring your own!
- Downloads– Movies, TV shows, podcasts, or whatever else you like. Download some on your device to help you stay awake for baby’s midnight party!
- Charger– Bring a very long charger! The outlets won’t be close by.
Make a FLEXIBLE Birth Plan
Some women may disagree with me, but the point of a birth plan is not to dictate exactly how your birth WILL go. We don’t have that much control over life. A birth plan helps you research the possibilities so that you can tell your team your preferences (assuming they are safe) and simultaneously prepare yourself for other possibilities.
There are a myriad of options for pain relief ranging from breathing techniques to epidurals. Learn about as many as possible and put your preferences in your plan. The key to remember is that there is no single right choice for everyone. Do what works best for you during your birth.
Meet and get to know anyone who might attend your delivery. If there are multiple doctors or midwives in your practice, try to have at least one appointment with each. Then you won’t have to worry about a stranger getting rather personal with you on the big day!
The reality is you are not completely in control during birth. Your baby and your body are calling some of the shots. There will nearly always be unexpected circumstances. Part of preparing for birth is accepting that your plans may need to change to protect yourself and your baby.
Choose Your Visitors Wisely
There can be a temptation to invite everyone you know and love to attend your birth. It’s a joyous occasion and you want to share that with them. I’m here to caution you against that plan. When preparing for birth, choose your visitors wisely!
Your Reaction to Pain
What is your reaction like when you’re in pain? Do you want to be massaged, distracted from it by funny stories, or left alone? Do you get quiet or shout things that would make a sailor blush (bonus points if you guess which categories I fit into). You need to think honestly about how you best deal with pain.
Your Visitors’ Personalities
If you’re thinking about inviting someone to be present at your birth, carefully consider her personality. Does she follow your lead? Maybe she tends to ‘take charge’ and tell people what to do. I promise, you don’t want that second type of person in the delivery room!
When & Where to Visit
People will always want to visit when you have a baby. Now is the time to decide when and where you want that to happen. While you’re preparing for birth, decide whether or not you want visitors at the hospital. If you do, choose when you want it to happen and ask your nurses to keep people out at other times.
Preparing for Birth with Simple Planning
Don’t let preparing for birth overwhelm you. Take some time to think about what will work best for you. A little planning now will keep you from being that crazy couple on TV!