1. Antenatal classes and birth education
For most women and their partners, having their own baby is the first experience they will have of being in a delivery room. For this reason, attending antenatal classes is on the agenda for most women in their first pregnancy. These classes may be run by the hospital or privately and give a range of information about what to expect when you are in labour, giving birth and postnatally. Specific classes may focus on meditation techniques or breathing to help you get through the delivery. A tour of the hospital is also a good idea as you will find out where to go when the contractions start and what to expect when you get there.
Education about options for the birth can also include chatting to your Obstetrician or midwife and reading books. For some women, thinking about the birth and delivery means that they write a birth plan about how they would like the delivery to progress. Although this can be helpful to give some ideas, it is also important to be flexible about how things eventuate. Even as Obstetricians, we find it hard to predict who will have a natural labour with no interventions. Being rigid about your ideal scenario can set you up for disappointment later on. Remember, the only outcome that matters is a happy, healthy mum and baby!
2. Pack your bags and get the car ready
There are many things that are required during your stay in hospital, and the last thing that you need as the contractions start and your waters break is to be stuffing things in your bag on your way to the hospital!
Common things to remember for your hospital stay include things to assist in your labour: this may include particular music, essential oils, a comfortable pillow and some snacks for you (in early labour) and your partner (throughout the labour). You will need comfortable clothes to wear in labour and following the birth including front-buttoning shirts which are useful when breastfeeding. “Nanna” undies are recommended particularly if you are having a caesarean delivery to avoid friction on the wound. Maternity pads and breast pads are a must. Not all hospitals will provide nappies, and of course you will need at least one outfit for your baby to come home in. Don’t forget other essentials like your camera and phone charger!
Getting the car seat fitted is another part of preparation that can mean you are not rushing around trying to find someone who will do it on a Sunday when you are desperate to leave the hospital. There are many RTA approved car seat installers for your peace of mind about baby’s safety.
3. Stay active and consider perineal preparation
Keeping active throughout the pregnancy will help to prepare you for the birth of the baby regardless of what type of delivery you have. Other benefits are improved mental health and decreased incidence of gestational diabetes. Recommendations include 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times per week, however speak to your physiotherapist or Obstetrician before you start. High impact and contact sports are not recommended during pregnancy. Exercise may need to be adjusted at the end of the pregnancy as joint pain and discomfort become more common.
If you are planning on a vaginal delivery then perineal preparation through massage or commercially available devices can help to reduce the incidence of trauma or tearing. Pelvic floor exercises are also recommended throughout the pregnancy to help speed up the recover post-partum.
In the interests of the health of your baby following the delivery updating your and your family’s vaccinations is recommended. Whooping cough (pertussis) can be life threatening for babies and it often goes undiagnosed in adults who may just have the symptom of persistent cough. Pregnant women are recommended to have the pertussis vaccination during their third trimester if they are not up to date, as there may be some benefit conferred to the baby through the placenta for the first few months until your baby starts having vaccinations. Make sure your partner, parents and any other close family and friends are also up to date. The best way to protect your baby is to guard against anyone else getting the illness!
5. Nesting and enjoyable activities
Women often describe a feeling of needing to get things ready at home for the arrival of their baby. This may be accompanied by the sudden urge to clean out all of the cupboards, wash everything in sight or scrub the bathroom with a toothbrush. There is nothing quite as satisfying in the last few weeks of pregnancy as washing and folding the baby clothes, putting them in little drawers and feeling “ready” for your new arrival.
Don’t forget too, that with the birth of the baby will come a change in the dynamic for you and your partner. Make the most of the time you have together in the final weeks of the pregnancy and have a date, see a movie or go to a restaurant. These indulgences will need to be put on hold for a while after the baby is born! Filling up the freezer with frozen meals can also help in those sleep deprived first weeks where cooking is the last thing on anyone’s mind!
Nothing will ever really prepare you for the birth of your baby, which is a life changing event! Following these tips might make that transition a little bit easier. Good luck from all the Obstetricians at Alana Healthcare for Women, and have a lovely baby!
At Alana Healthcare for Women we are dedicated to caring for the health of women at any age. Please read more about our Antenatal services here.