As you get closer to the due date, the though of labor and delivery can fill you with excitement and anxiety all at the same time. You can't wait to meet your baby, but yet- it's so full of unknowns. Even if you have had a child before, you are never sure when labor will happen, how it will go, how long it will last, and how your body will react to it all. Despite all the unknowns, there are a few things that you can do to help you prepare for it, and a few things to keep in mind during the process that will help it go smoothly.
1. Pack a diaper bag and a labor and delivery bag- it's amazing how much better you will feel once this is done. I placed my packed bags in the car as soon as they were ready, that way I always had them with me. If you need more tips on packing a diaper bag and labor and delivery bag, be sure to check out these posts:
2. Make your plan, but be flexible- One of the hardest parts about labor for me, is not knowing when it will hit or what will happen when it does. For me, it was is a comfort to have a plan, so I make plans for the big day as much as possible- trying to cover several different scenarios of what could happen. In the end though, I have to be flexible and be willing to let go of the plan if the situation calls for it. Holding on too tightly to my expectations will cause way more anxiety and stress, so just be prepared to let it all go!
3. Surround yourself with a good support system and be clear on how they can help- this can be tough, it's kinda hard to ask for help and sometimes you aren't really sure who is willing to be helpful. It's really important to make sure that you have support lined up for the last few weeks of your pregnancy, labor and delivery, and after.
4. Don't "fight" the pain, embrace it- when those contractions start coming and getting harder and longer, it's easy to want to tense up and "fight" the pain, but that doesn't help. Remember to take deep breaths, focusing on something other then the pain as much as possible. Try to "go with" the pain by breathing deeply and relaxing your body, remembering that the contraction will be over soon.
5. Remember to ask questions- doctors and nurses see a lot of babies born, and that means sometimes they might forget to explain what is happening to you or those in the delivery room supporting you- it's your right to be able to ask questions, so don't hesitate to do so. If they want to give you medication or do a procedure and you don't understand- ask.
6. Eat before you go to the hospital- they won't let you eat at the hospital, and it could be a while, so before you head in (even if it's in the car on the way)- make sure you have grabbed a good sized meal or snack so you have some fuel for labor and delivery.
7. Move around during labor- some hospitals have a policy about this and in some situations you may need to be in bed, but as much as you can, get up and move. Go for a walk, even if it's just around the room, sit on a yoga ball and work on balancing on it (this also will help baby drop faster), or take a warm shower- do whatever you can think of to keep moving. Labor can be a long process and you don't want to be stuck in that bed for hours on end- it makes the already long labor seem longer!
8. Remember you can do this- just when it feels like you need to give up, just when you think you can't do it- know that you are close to the end and after you push through that "wall" of doubt, it will get easier. Don't forget you are strong and you can do it!