You're starting to get that thrill, the excitement of your baby soon to arrive but also a little niggling of fear and doubt as to how your baby is going to arrive.
I've had some beautiful women ask me how I prepared for labour and birth. Having shared so many of this with close friends who are about to give birth I wanted to share this with you too in hopes it may help you in some small way!
A few things I found incredibly helpful and a few things I wish I had have known before
1. REST WHEN YOU CAN
Get as much rest before birth and labour as you can but the biggest thing I would stress is sleep as soon as you can after labour.
It's so hard because there's so much adrenaline and excitement coursing through your body. But post birth your new baby is going to be exhausted after that big journey into the big world and they will sleep. Turn off your phone because all the well wishes will be there as soon as you wake up. If you don't get a good stretch of sleep post birth it's likely you may not get a good sleep for a long time.
It's really important for recovery and healing to get good rest and sleep and this is a good time! Which brings me to my next point
2. TAKE TIME FOR HEALING
No matter how your baby comes into the world you are going to have to heal.
Be kind to yourself and don't over do it. Be it a vaginal birth or c section your body has been through battle and its important to remember that even though you're looking after your new human, your body is going through some HUGE healing. So take it easy! Just because you've left the hospital does not mean you're ok to run around at home. You still need bed rest and time for your body to heal.
3. PREPARE FOR LABOUR
You can't plan for labour but you can prepare.
So many people kept telling me that you can't prepare for labour. To an extent I believe you can't plan it. But you can absolutely prepare for it. Education is so important when it comes to anything for me, particularly a journey like birth. You enter the hospital as a woman and leave a mama. It's like this incredible right of passage and it's a battle within those walls that you have to fight and win. And you will! Preparing for the fight, I think, was incredibly beneficial to me. Learning about pain management, the different stages of labour, your preferences for both you and baby.
Whilst I was still met with some big challenges, having knowledge around labour helped my husband and I make calculated decisions in the heat of the moment and also doing lots of work on breath and meditation in the lead up allowed me to relax and be in my body for the (majority!) of my labour! I worked with an amazing woman, Nicola Laye, who I met when I took her pregnancy pilates class in my last trimester (helping baby get in optimal position and learning birthing positions) she also specialises in breath and meditation and I worked with her coaching me in birth and breath during the last months of pregnancy during multiple sessions releasing fears, preparing and learning. She also mentored me during my labour (at 1am in the morning!) and it really helped to ground me and relax. She offers some really incredible breathing classes and workshops for pregnant and non pregnant women and couples! You can read more about her offerings here: https://www.nicolalaye.com
4. BIRTHING WISHES
A birth plan isn't about planning your birth, you simply can't plan it. But it's about educating yourself on your options and expressing your wishes or preferences for your birth. From pain management to environmental elements your wishes can be met to a certain extent. I found it so valuable to educate myself on all the ways labour can go. I loved listening to Australian Birth Stories podcast to hear all the ways women birth. It's not for everyone, some women feel the fear more when they hear bad stories but for me education and knowledge is power. Learning what can go wrong isn't to scare you, its empowering to understand the terms and procedures and what roads might lead to where. What practices you can implement if your birth doesn't go to plan and also knowing what's possible and your rights and options within the space you have chosen whether it be hospital, birth centre or home-birth.
I planned and wanted to give birth at the hospital, particularly for my first baby because it's where I felt my baby would be safest, should anything be wrong (a personal feeling and the right one for me). I found the hospital very flexible in regards to my wishes. Even though I had researched and requested quite a few wishes there wasn't any that were not met (including delayed cord clamping which is now standard practice, a calm, dark and quiet environment, the use of water as pain management in birthing pool and shower etc) usually around 28 weeks you discuss your birth plan with your midwife but there is so many great resources available online to help you write yours.
Also it's great to go through your birth preferences and plan with your birth partner so they can advocate for you.
5. PACKING FOR HOSPITAL
Have TWO seperate bags for the hospital - a birthing bag and a hospital bag - and go through your birthing bag with your birth partner and explain what each item is for. (I spent part of early labour kicking myself for not having batteries in my faux candles, turns out rob was using someone else's left in the birth suite 🤣) I've put together a list of my must haves for hospital and labour. Everyone swears by different items but this is a list of my essentials including a few must haves. HERE
*NOTE* - To a Friend, That's You, Mama to Be...
Birth and labour is such an incredible journey, no matter how your baby arrives into this world the ultimate goal is to get them here safely. Empowering yourself with the tools to take it on can give you a wider view and more confidence in your journey no matter what that journey entails. Birthing my son has been the most incredibly empowering and courageous thing I have ever done. The female body is beyond incredible and women have been giving life for thousands of years. Our bodies were designed for it, the biggest piece of advice is to trust yourself, trust your body and listen to it. treat it kindly pre and post birth and surround yourself with all the loving vibes. You've got this mama, I believe in you!
I'd love to hear if you have any extra helpful tips or comments you have that might help make the next Mama to Be's journey just a little bit better or easier! Please leave any special words of advice in the comments!