Pregnancy is an exciting part of the journey into parenthood, and as the days and weeks pass, your anticipation of meeting your new baby builds. It can also be a rollercoaster of emotions, particularly as you enter the final weeks when baby could arrive at any time.
The third trimester is usually when nerves about labour and delivery appear, suddenly you are very conscious of the size of the little passenger in your bump. And now that your due date doesn’t feel quite so far away and baby will be making her entrance SOON, she feels a lot less of a tiny peanut and a lot more of a huge watermelon.
Every labour and the journey leading up to it is a voyage into the unknown, and it is natural to have some nerves, even if you have been through it several times before, because every pregnancy and birth is different.
Here are some tips and techniques to prepare your mind and body for labour and delivery so you can be as relaxed and positive as possible going into it.
- Build Your Confidence: Every woman and baby is different and birth is no different. No two labours are the same. You know yourself and your baby better than anyone, so nobody is better placed to make decisions about labour for you than you! The weeks leading up to delivery are a good time to inform yourself about the process of labour, birth and the postnatal period and the different options available to you, e.g. pain relief, so you can make an informed decision on the day. There are many sources of information out there, from chatting to your doctor or midwife, antenatal or breastfeeding classes and support groups to books. Choose which one suits you best- or a mixture of them all. The more informed you are, the more confident you will feel in your decisions which will empower you to make birth your own.
- Plan, But Be Prepared To Go Off Plan: Preparing a birth plan is a good way to explore how you feel about different options for your labour and birth and can include anything, from pain relief options to a playlist of music that helps you to feel relaxed. It is good to include a few different options for different scenarios as you don’t know how you will feel on the day. Discuss your birth plan with your birth partner so they know how best to support and advocate for you. Although having a birth plan can be empowering during labour and the weeks leading up to it, if it is too rigid it can put pressure on you. It can help to think of it as more of a wish list than a plan, and if on the day things feel different than you expected, just do what feels right to you.
- Relax Your Mind: Learning relaxation techniques can help to keep you calm and focused in the weeks leading up to birth, and starting early can help using them in labour become second nature to you. Whether you have a vaginal or Cesarean birth, relaxation techniques can keep you calm during birth and help you to enjoy finally meeting your little one. You might have learned some relaxation techniques in your antenatal class or from your midwife but if you haven’t yet, a simple one is to sit or lie down in a quiet space, focusing on your breathing. Visualise the good things in your life and positive, calm feelings surrounding you like a white glow and imagine yourself drawing that white glow towards you as you inhale. Visualise any worries you have as a red glow, and as you exhale, visualise them blowing away from you and disappearing. This works well in labour if you imagine pain and tension from contractions as the red glow.
- Strengthen Your Body: Train for labour and birth as you would any other physical activity. Keeping fit during pregnancy with gentle exercise if you are able to can improve your strength and endurance, as well as reducing stress and lifting your mood. Staying healthy by eating well, and getting enough sleep (or trying to!) can all help you to be labour ready.
- Take Time To Just Be: The third trimester can seem endless as you deal with your growing bump, heartburn and sleepless nights all while eagerly awaiting your new arrival. Although it can be tempting to count down the days until baby arrives, a watched pot never boils and taking the time to try and enjoy the last few weeks of pregnancy can help you stay calm and reduce stress as you prepare for birth. Take lots of pictures of yourself with your bump, you may be surprised at how much you miss it when it’s gone and your baby will love to look back at them with you when she is older. Make a scrapbook or diary of your pregnancy, do a cast of your bump, finish (or start!) painting the nursery, anything that makes you feel relaxed and calm and in the moment during this special time in your life, and hopefully your baby’s birthday will be along soon!
How did you get ready for labour and birth? Share your tips and stories here!