6 Tips to Help You Prepare For Labour

You may start to feel overwhelmed as your due date approaches, and people start to ask if you have signs of labour and if you are ready for the new baby. 

Getting ready for baby’s arrival may seem like an all-encompassing task, from packing your hospital bag to cleaning the house, washing baby’s new clothes and blankets and stocking the freezer, to learning the route to the maternity ward or who to call when labour starts. 

To guide you through the last few months of pregnancy, Lesley Gilchrist from My Expert Midwife gives her tips on how to prepare for labour and recovery.  

Learn What to Expect 

All pregnancies are different, but often, the journey to motherhood can throw up challenges. Being informed about what happens – or what can happen – in labour and birth can empower you to be confident in the choices you make about your maternity care.

Taking antenatal classes in your third trimester can help you be more informed about the choices you may make. Traditionally antenatal classes took place in person from around week 30-32, but nowadays, there are different types of classes to suit different needs and preferences, including virtual live classes and on-demand e-Learning classes.

One of the perks of on-demand eLearning is that you can learn at your own pace, recap information and complete your course at a time that suits you.

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Make a Birth Plan

Making a birth plan helps you anticipate choices you may make during your maternity care and will help map out and inform those caring for you about what matters to you. Your antenatal classes will help you decide on your wishes for birth, and also inform you about the different options that might be available if things don’t go to plan. You can include all your preferred choices for labour, for example: 

  • How you would like your environment or hospital room to be for labour
  • If you want a waterbirth
  • If you want a homebirth
  • How you would like your baby to be monitored during labour
  • Whether you want vaginal examinations
  • Whether you want your baby to be born vaginally or by C-section
  • Birthing positions
  • If you would like delayed cord clamping
  • Any pain relief you do or do not want to be offered

[Read our article 'How to write your birth plan' and download your free printable birth plan template]

Understand Your Options For Pain Relief

Many women are concerned about pain during labour. There are many types of pain relief that can be used during labour, including non-pharmacological and pharmacological pain relief.

Your antenatal class should include non-judgemental information on the types of pain relief that are available so you can make the right choice for yourself when you’re in labour.  

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Prepare Your Mind and Body

A positive attitude and looking after your physical and mental health can help you feel calm, grounded and in control. Although it may be hard, try to put yourself first and try to put yourself in the best position to prepare for what lies ahead: 

  • Although you might feel uncomfortable, try to prioritise sleep so you feel rested 
  • Practising hypnobirthing techniques can help some people manage stress, worry, or fear around birth
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet when possible and take a quality pregnancy supplement so that you and your baby both receive all the nutrients you need to promote health and growth
  • Exercise such as yoga, Pilates or aqua-natal classes can help your body stay strong whilst keeping the impact on your body low. Exercise can also help lift your mood and help you feel energised
  • Try to keep yourself mobile by walking, using a birthing ball, yoga, aqua-natal, or squatting. Being upright can enable your baby to find its optimal position with the aid of gravity
  • If you are feeling aches and pains, pregnancy massage can help relax the mind and body. Get your partner involved, as research also shows that massage in labour can make it quicker and easier
  • Practice perineal massage from around week 34 of pregnancy. Research shows that regular perineal massage can help skin and muscles around the perineum to stretch more easily during birth, reducing the severity of tearing or the need for an episiotomy

Prepare Your Hospital Bag and Get to Know Your Way Around Your Equipment 

As you reach around 34 weeks of pregnancy, you may want to start preparing your hospital bag. It is recommended you have your hospital bag packed and ready to go before 37 weeks so you are prepared in case you go into labour earlier than expected. 

Break down your packing into three bags - one for you, one for your baby and one for your partner and make sure you include everything you need for labour, post-labour, and what you will need for your baby immediately after birth in an easy-to-find place. 

If you are hiring, borrowing or buying any special equipment such as a birthing pool, TENS machine or breast pump, give it a test run so you know how to use it, have the right batteries and know how to put things together and dismantle them - involving your birth partner in these things can help you out too!

[Read our article 'What to Pack in Your Hosptial Bag' and download your free hospital bag checklist]

Be Curious 

If you have questions or if there is anything you don’t understand about giving birth, or if you have any concerns, you can always ask your midwife or doctor for advice and information. 

For more information about preparing for pregnancy, birth and beyond, including online, on-demand eLearning antenatal classes, visit myexpertmidwife.com  

My Expert Midwife is a speaker at The Baby Show, find out more information here

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