7 Ways To Prepare For Childbirth
With your mind and imagination racing about all things newborn-related, when you are pregnant, it’s important to prepare for childbirth with the same intention and dedication. Support yourself through your childbirth journey by assembling your birth team, watching birth videos, taking a childbirth education class, visiting your birth location, writing your birth preferences, packing your birth bag, and preparing for some home laboring.
Does it sound like a lot to do? Fortunately, after step #1, you won’t be doing it alone! Read on to find out who is the hidden secret to childbirth preparation…
1. Assemble Your Birth Team
Many people start their childbirth preparation by seeking a midwife or doctor to care for them prenatally and to offer medical oversight during their labor and birth. One of the very next steps in preparation can be to hire a doula. No matter where you are birthing, or what kind of birth you plan on having, expecting families will benefit from the emotional and physical support provided by doulas including a reduction in cesarean birth rate, increased satisfaction with the birth experience, decreased postpartum depression, increased lactation success, shorter labors and so much more. Consider hiring the help of both birth and postpartum doulas, as they each can offer invaluable support. Once you have a doula on your support team they can be a great guide through many of the other items on this list.
2. Watch Birth Videos
It’s important to get familiar with what births can look like, especially the kind you want and envision for yourself. For example, if you hope you have a vaginal birth with the help of an epidural, watch videos where laboring people are receiving the medication while utilizing different laboring positions and using different tools such as a peanut ball or a squat bar. If you are planning a homebirth, watch videos that focus on unmedicated birth so you can see the many positions people choose and the wide range of non-pharmacological comfort measures or pain-relief techniques that various people use to move through labor. Planning a VBAC, Cesarean, birth center birth, etc? Lots of videos out there on YouTube showing the wide range of birth experiences. Get comfortable and excited about the birth you envision for yourself and watch others do the same so that you see it is possible for you too. Watch birth that is different than what you expect, as well, so you’ll be at least somewhat familiar, no matter what happens. Ask your doula if they have any birth videos they can share with you that they think will educate or help add to your confidence.
3. Take a Childbirth Education Class
There are many wonderful childbirth education classes that are offered to expecting families that can help prepare you for what to expect during the end of your pregnancy, including labor and delivery. You’ll be walked through each phase of labor so that you have a general understanding of the different stages of childbirth. Many classes are now offered online so that you can participate from the safety and comfort of your home. Whether you participate in person or virtually, these classes often offer people the opportunity to talk with other families who are expecting babies around the same time; an added bonus allowing you to connect with other families who are in a similar phase of life.
4. Visit Your Birth Location
If you are planning a vaginal birth, there will be some parts of your laboring experience that will be unpredictable, such as not knowing when labor will begin or which midwife or doctor will be on shift when it is time to deliver your baby. To help add some familiarity and comfort to your experience, it is a good idea to visit your planned birth location for a tour (If not available in person, many hospitals offer virtual tours). This is a great time to ask questions about the amenities, tools, and pain management available to laboring people such as showers, baths, birth balls, squat bars, nitrous oxide, tens machines, peanut balls, and more.
5. Write Your Birth Preferences
A written birth preferences sheet (also known as a birth plan) is a great way to get what you desire for your birth down on paper. This kind of clarity is key in helping you communicate what you do and do not want with your care providers in non-emergent situations. There are many ways to begin writing a birth plan including using our template on Boober and in pregnancy apps or with your doula. Talk with members of your support team and take a childbirth education class to learn more about your choices so that you know what to include in your own plan.
6. Pack Your Birth Bag
You’ll want to gather a few things to help you stay comfortable if you are planning a hospital or birth center birth. This may include loose, comfy clothes that feel good but that you don’t mind getting messy while in labor, toiletries, slippers, a nursing bra, snacks, hydrating drinks like coconut water, and pain relief tools like a tennis ball, essential oils, a massage tool or an ice pack. Check with your midwife or doctor about what physical support tools they will have available for you, including birth and peanut balls, or squat bars, ice chips, etc. You and your doula can talk about which additional items you should pack and which you can leave at home. There is no need to pack any diapers or much clothing for your baby, but you may want a special “Going Home Outfit.”
7. Prepare For Some Home Laboring
Most people, regardless of where they plan on birthing their babies usually spend at least a few hours laboring at home. For this reason, as you prepare for childbirth, you’ll want to make sure you have what you need at home to feel as comfortable as possible. Some of these items will include your favorite things to drink to ensure hydration, bendy drinking straws, a birth ball, towels you don’t mind getting messy, and hot and cold packs, candles, pillows, etc. Once you hire a doula, you’ll learn more about what they will bring with them to help you labor.
You can’t prepare for every part of birth, but you can do your best by preparing in these 7 ways and with the help of a trusted birth professional such as a doula, it’s less overwhelming than ever before. Assemble your birth team, watch birth videos, take a childbirth education class, visit your birth location, write your birth preferences, pack your bag, prepare for some home laboring and get excited about childbirth!
Laura is a doula, having served clients in both New York and in mid-Michigan. She is a wife and the mother of two, a toddler and a teen. When Laura is not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out fun new recipes. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.