Bringing a child into the world can be one of the greatest experiences, but it isn’t an easy process. Going into labor, and delivering your baby are hard work. When you know what to expect and you prepare for labor, you will have less anxiety and stress. Planning ahead and dealing with your concerns before it’s time to go to the hospital will help get your body and mind ready to go through labor and delivery.
5 Tips to Prepare For Childbirth
Many people want to know how to prepare for childbirth. Although you can’t prepare for every possibility, you can certainly take measures to ensure that you have an easier experience. Once you get to the hospital, things can begin to happen quickly. When you have set a birth plan that takes into account your personal decisions ahead of time, you can rely on that during the process rather than making each decision as they come.
1. Exercise and Train for Childbirth
Athletes train hard prior to any match or competition. Pregnancy can be just as hard on the body as any sport, maybe even more so. You will need a coach to help train you for the changes your body will go through. A physical therapist can help you focus on injury and pain prevention from the start of your pregnancy, and through postpartum stages. Pregnancy shifts your center of gravity, which can throw off your posture. Working with a physical therapist can help you learn to push during delivery and practice getting into positions conducive to labor. Exercise also strengthens the muscles that you will be using during the birth, and can alleviate muscle aches and pain that can occur after the baby is delivered.
Yoga poses help ease discomfort during pregnancy and stretching your muscles in preparation for childbirth. The deep squat relaxes the pelvic floor muscles, and the cat/cow pose helps with lower back pain. Finding a pregnancy yoga instructor or physical therapist to help you adjust poses as your body changes through pregnancy can help immensely.
2. Learn to Manage Stress and Relax
It’s not just your body that is stressed during your pregnancy. Although the expectation of a baby is a joyous time, it can also cause uncertainty and anxiety. Emotional stress causes you to have trouble sleeping, or get headaches. It also can affect the development of the baby. Managing your stress during pregnancy can help you be healthier, and is a lifelong practice that will benefit you and your family.
You can naturally deal with stress through your pregnancy by getting enough sleep and eating healthy. Basically, self-care is stress relief. You may need to find your stress triggers and avoid them, or find ways around them. Exercise several days a week, not just to prepare your body, but also to lower anxiety. Say no to things that may contribute to your stress levels. It’s okay to buy a vegetable tray for the work potluck lunch instead of having to stay up late fixing a homemade entrée. If the stress is overwhelming, talk to your doctor about medications that might help and are safe for your baby.
3. Understand Different Labor Positions
The traditional labor position, lying on your back, puts pressure on the pelvic nerves which can actually increase pain. Changing positions during labor, lying on your side or walking around, may offer benefits such as a sense of self-control, reduced need for medication, and helping the baby descend through the birth canal. Sitting up improves blood supply to the pelvic muscles. Lying on your side reduces the pressure to your perineum. Be sure to practice these different positions beforehand. You may need to be an advocate for yourself in the delivery room, or ask your support person to assist you in changing positions to be more comfortable.
4. Seek Emotional Support
Healthy relationships are important at any stage of life, but during pregnancy, the support of a significant loved one can definitely reduce stress. Research shows that poor relationships during pregnancy are a large contributor to stress. The mother may be carrying the child, but when a significant partner takes part in classes and reading books, it reassures the mother that she’s not alone. You may need to ask for help with certain tasks that are more difficult, and partners of expectant mothers need to be prepared to assist, from selecting items for the nursery, and constructing the crib or changing table, to changing of cat litter to avoid health issues.
5. Learn Some Ways to Deal with Labor Pain
The contractions that your body makes to push the baby out will feel uncomfortable. If you want to give birth without using drugs, there are many strategies that you can use to manage this discomfort naturally.
- Make sure you have an environment that is soothing and comfortable. You will want space to move around. While you’re going through labor, sitting in a rocking chair or lying on a soft bed can be helpful. Choose a space with a variety of furniture.
- Have support people around. Your partner, a doula, or a midwife can be a resource to assist you in managing your pain. Make sure you have the right team to decrease your stress levels.
- Be informed about labor. Knowing what you will go through during labor and delivery will help you manage your pain more effectively. Keep remembering that the pain isn’t going to last forever. If you have questions, ask your healthcare team. Discussing your concerns can help alleviate them.
- Learn rhythmic breathing techniques that will help you manage your pain during contractions. Tension is released as you exhale, and can reduce pain.
- Use warm and cool compresses. Warmth on your back or shoulders can reduce pain levels, and a cool compress can relieve sweating, which can be uncomfortable.
- Try a massage using a mild oil or lotion to relax your muscles between contractions.
Partner With a Great Healthcare Team During Your Pregnancy
Your journey through pregnancy and the day of delivery is important, and planning ahead of time with North Texas Medical Center can reduce stress now and in the future. Be sure to contact your OB/GYN to discuss your birth plan, and ensure that it is followed during your delivery. If you do not have a dedicated physician at this time, or would like to know more about how we can help, please contact us to meet with a physician.