The last few months of pregnancy may seem to be dragging on forever. You’re uncomfortable, you can’t sleep and you’re ready to finally hold your little bundle of joy.
So why not take advantage of your long wait and prepare for your baby’s debut? A little advanced planning can help make these weeks fly by and reduce any anxiety you may have about labor and delivery.
She offers 5 tips to help you prepare for delivery so you have nothing to worry about that day except what to name your newest addition.
Learn about the birth process
It may be tempting to put the pain and uncertainty — along with the horror stories you’ve probably heard — of the birthing process out of your mind until it happens. But, Dr. Ehrenberg advises against it.
“It’s a good idea to be educated on the different labor and birthing possibilities,” she said. “It’s important to come armed with knowledge so if and when plans change, you have an idea as to what your provider is talking about and you can better communicate your needs and preferences.”
Birthing classes are especially beneficial for first-time moms. Learning and preparing for the birthing process can help eliminate some of the fear of the unknown.
Birthing classes cover the stages of labor, options for pain management and breathing techniques. In addition, you’ll learn about the various ways to give birth, such as natural birth, water birth, birth with an epidural and cesarean delivery.
“Birthing classes are a great way to teach mom tools to help her through labor,” said Dr. Ehrenberg. “They can make labor go more smoothly.”
Create a plan
Although you might not be able to control everything that happens to you during your baby’s birth, you can play a role in the decisions that are made about your body and your baby. A well thought out birth plan can help you do that.
The goal of a birth plan is to help you communicate your goals and preferences to the people helping you with the labor and delivery.
It isn’t for you and your partner to determine exactly how the birth of your child will occur — because labor involves so many variables, you can’t predict what will happen. However, a birth plan will help you to realize what’s most important to you in the birth of your baby.
Help your partner prepare, too
Even though your partner isn’t the one giving birth, it’s important for him to prepare for the big day, as well. It’s helpful when your partner knows your birth preferences so he can be supportive of your wishes and the situation as things change.
“Birthing classes aren’t just for moms, either,” said Dr. Ehrenberg. “When partners gain as much knowledge as possible, and learn breathing and relaxation techniques, they can better support mom during labor.”
Know what to do when labor starts
Long before your first contraction hits, have a clear set of guidelines as to whom to call, where to go and when to leave.
Your provider will give you instructions on when to call and at what point to head to the hospital or birthing center. Most providers will tell you to come in when your contractions are regular and strong, coming about every 4 to 5 minutes for 1 to 2 hours.
Once you arrive, it’s a good idea to know where to park and where to go once inside. Hospital or birthing center tours beforehand can help relieve confusion on that day.
In addition, make sure your bag is packed a few weeks before your due date. Making sure you didn’t forget anything is the last thing you want to worry about during contractions.
General toiletries, a comfortable pair of pajamas that you can easily nurse in, your nursing pillow, and an outfit for mom and baby to go home in is all you need. Also, make sure the car seat is installed beforehand.
Decide who will attend the birth
This is a very personal decision. Some moms think the more the merrier, while others want as few people as possible. Dr. Ehrenberg encourages patients to have no more than 3 people in the room at a time.
“We really need mom focused on delivery,” she said. “When a lot of people crowd into the room, moms get distracted easily. It also may be a space issue. We need to make room for care takers and plan for extras in the event of an emergency.”
But whomever you choose, make sure they are calming and supportive of you and your partner during this time.