You’ve got the nursery organized, the carseat installed and your freezer stocked with freezer meals, but are you truly prepared for the birth of your baby? Preparing for the birth of your baby is an exciting time, but is also a time of information overload, and lots of emotions as well. As a labor and delivery nurse, one thing that I have learned is that each birth is different and unique, and there is no way to predict how things are going to go. Yet, there are some things that you can do to be prepared.
Here are some ways to prepare for your birth from a labor and delivery nurse:
- Familiarize yourself with the birthing process. Education is key to helping dissolve any fears and build your confidence. The more you can become educated on the birthing process, the more comfortable you can become with what to expect. One topic that I find especially important for new mothers is to be familiar with the birthing process and the stages of labor.
- Take some childbirth classes. Classes are a great way for you and your partner to learn different relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms to help you through labor. In addition, they are also a great way for your partner or support person to learn how they can best support you throughout the birthing process. There are many different kinds of classes from Lamaze, to the Bradley Method to Hypnobirthing. You can reach out to your obstetrician or midwife or the hospital in which you plan to give birth to see what classes they offer. Some classes even include a tour of the hospital or birthing center as well.
- Create some sort of birth plan. As a labor and delivery nurse, I do remind women that birth may not always go the way they had planned, and at the end of the day, the best plan is a healthy mom and baby. But it’s a good idea to have some sort of idea as to what’s important to you and your partner and have a discussion ahead of time with your obstetrician or midwife. And most moms feel comfortable knowing that they have a plan in place should certain situations arise. When you check into the hospital, let your nurse know your wishes for example if you want delayed cord clamping, or skin to skin. But remember, the best plan is a healthy mom and healthy baby, however that should happen.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had envisioned going into labor naturally and having an uncomplicated vaginal delivery. However, at 37 weeks, I found myself being induced for high blood pressure and ultimately it ended in an emergency c-section. (You can read more about my birth story here). While it was not the way I had planned, at the end of the day, we were both healthy.
Even though I was a labor and delivery nurse and familiar with the different methods of induction, at the time being in that situation, I wasn’t thinking as a nurse. I was a sleep deprived mom in that hospital bed and all of my clinical thinking and reasoning went out the window. However, had I had somewhat of a plan in place in the event that induction was necessary, I would have discussed with my provider the different cervical ripening methods and played a more active role in the decision making. In the end, the outcome wasn’t what I had envisioned, but both myself and baby were healthy and that was all that mattered.
While every birth plan may look different and certainly isn’t set in stone, education is the key to being prepared for your birth.
Click here to check out my post on what to pack in your hospital bag and get my free printable checklist