How to Mentally Prepare Yourself for Childbirth
As I am fast approaching the birth of my first child, I thought it would be good to write a few things down that have been helping me mentally prepare for the biggest moment of my life.
First things first – I am planning to try my hardest to deliver naturally, meaning the least interventions possible. I realize that birth plans often change and am keeping an open mind to that, however with all good intentions I plan to go unmedicated for as long as my body can take it. With that being said, I realize I have a lot of mental planning and preparation to do beforehand. So! Here are some tips and techniques that I’ve been practicing to help me prepare for birth and by all means I encourage comments and feedback at the bottom from other moms who have been here before me. I know many moms will probably read this headline and laugh out loud, thinking “good luck, sweetie! Nothing can prepare you for childbirth”, which is probably true. But hey, I’m trying.
So, here we go…
- Make a plan but be open to change. I realize that this is probably one of the most crucial steps in preparing myself for labour and delivery so I have written down a few simple “ideas” for when the big moment comes which I will have my partner communicate to the hospital upon arrival if I am too far gone by that point. This will obviously be different for every woman, but with a little (or a lot) of research I think I’ve nailed down my ideal birth situation and if things don’t progress how they should, I am open to doing whatever is necessary to welcome a happy and healthy baby girl to the world.
- Kegels. Practice makes perfect, right?! Also, not sure why my dictionary doesn’t recognize the word kegel. How rude.
- Expect the best, but prepare for the worst. Now I know this doesn’t sound overly hopeful but I am trying to limit the anxiety by researching every different way that this could unfold. C-sections, forceps, vacuums, the works. I realize that for some, ignorance is bliss, but for me, knowledge is power and I’d rather be ready for whatever crazy thing happens in there if my body doesn’t agree on the natural birth method. To each their own, though!
- Confront my fears head-on. This kind of ties into #3. I have been reading a lot about c-sections which happens to be my biggest fear going into labour because I’ve never had to go through an actual major surgery before with cuts and staples and stitches and the whole thing — and being totally honest, I’m triggered and I’m terrified of this outcome, but I am reading up on it as much as I can and learning about the procedure and what to expect if it goes this way in hopes that it’ll prepare me a little bit more if the time comes.
- Staying active, even when it hurts. I have been told by my doctors that this is key for a smooth delivery so I have been practicing at home yoga and have purchased an exercise ball that I’ve been using daily and will bring with me to the hospital when the time comes. I notice when I am stagnant for too long, everything hurts 10x more. 35 weeks and 4 days and the discomfort is no joke! I had no idea my pelvis could feel this way but moving helps and yoga eases my anxiety so I try and be mindful to move my body even just a little bit everyday, even when it hurts.
- Feel the feels. Reminding myself that it’s okay to be nervous and scared and insecure and that all of this is natural and temporary. Short term pain equals long term gain. After all, we are women and we were built for this.
- Staying hydrated. This is obviously important during pregnancy and generally in everyday life so I’ve been keeping track of my water intake.
- Nesting. I had no idea that this was a thing, but it totally is.
- Getting lots of sleep. I have been sleeping like a teenager lately which sort of makes me feel like a degenerate in a way but my body needs it, so I listen. Luckily, I’m on an early mat-leave so I’ve been fortunate enough to be able sleep in when I need to or nap frequently, although the pregnancy insomnia is real and seems to be getting worse the further along I get. Just getting rest helps though, even if it doesn’t result in a full nights sleep.
- Tuning out negativity or unhelpful comments or opinions. This is a big one. It seems that everyone has an opinion. Now I know that its likely unintentional, but hearing from others that “it’s only going to get worse”, or stuff generally like that is not helpful to an expectant mother who is approaching L&D. I think women soon forget after transitioning from expecting mom to real life mom the feelings and emotions involved with going into childbirth for the first time and often brush off the fears associated with it replacing them with the woes of early motherhood. Telling your pregnant friend to “sleep now because she will never sleep again” is just unnecessary and likely just devalues the heaviness that she is currently feeling or going through. Any negativity or insensitive comments should just be ignored completely. Unfortunately, you can’t prevent people from making stupid comments to you, but you can control how you let them effect you. Sharing your birthing horror stories might seem like a good idea at the time but trust me, its not. So please don’t.
I could keep going but I think I have covered the main points. I plan to use this guide during those inevitable pre-delivery panic attacks and welcome others to as well. To my fellow moms, please leave helpful comments and suggestions if you have them on your own coping mechanisms. The more we know collectively as women the better we are all off and its always good to hear first hand what helps from those who have been there done that.
Good luck to all the other expecting mamas out there who are also fast approaching childbirth. We got this gals!