Write Down Your Birth Preferences
How a birth will unfold is a mystery, but I’m sure there are things you’d like to happen. By writing down your preferences, it can let your birth support people know what you’d like and help you switch off your thinking brain when you’re in labour. During your pregnancy, spend time exploring all your choices.
When exploring your options for birth, you may like to think about: your beliefs about birth, what kind of environment you would like to birth in (eg; a warm, dimly lit space that is quiet with soft music), who will be supporting you (eg; partner’s name, doula, midwife, OB etc), how you feel about fetal monitoring, how you feel about pain relief (eg; if you are intending to labour naturally you could say ‘I intend to use massage, hot water, heat packs, visualisations and the birth pool to cope with labour so please don’t offer medical pain relief unless I ask for it’).
Other Things To Think About Are
- The use of syntocinon in the third stage of labour. If you don’t want the injection, be sure to discuss it with your care provider and let them know you’d like a physiological (natural) third stage if everything is going well
- Skin-to-skin contact
- Delayed cord clamping
- The injections offered to the baby such as vitamin K and hepatitis B
- It is also good to think about cesareans. Even if that is the last thing you are wanting, it is good to explore your options. If a cesarean is required, it is still possible to have delayed cord clamping and often times skin-to-skin contact can be facilitated. It’s also good to talk to your care provider if they know how to assist with vaginal swabbing for inoculation of the baby with vaginal flora.
Get A Massage
Did you know that women who have massages in pregnancy can increase their oxytocin levels (aka; the feel-good love hormone)? This means when you go into labour, the body responds better to the natural release of this hormone. It can help labour to progress more smoothly and efficiently. Massage also helps you feel relaxed and calmer and can help your body feel more open.
Regular walks help you feel healthy and build your fitness during pregnancy. Doing exercise releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) so it helps you feel happier and more positive. It can also release tension and help your muscles become stronger which will help during labour. Walking increases flexibility and helps encourage baby into a good position for birth. Start by doing 15-30mins three times a week and build up to 45-60mins most days.
Freeze Some Healthy Meals And Set Up A Meal Train
During your pregnancy, prepare some nutritious meals that can be frozen. This will help make dinner that bit easier when you are tired and/or breastfeeding your new baby. Popping some home-made soup in the saucepan will provide an easy and nutritious meal! Warm and easy-to-digest foods like soups, broths and stews will help the new mother to make good breast milk for her baby. You can also ask a friend to set up a ‘meal train’ using www.mealtrain.com. Your community would love to help you feel nurtured. There is a beautifully written book called ‘The first forty days’ that contains some lovely nourishing recipe ideas as well as tips for thriving in the postpartum time. I highly recommend it!
Pack A Birth Bag
Even if you’re birthing at home, it can be good to have all your supplies in one place. If you’re birthing in a birth centre or a hospital, there are some useful things to consider taking.
- Comfortable clothes like a dress or long shirt to labour in plus underwear
- Warm socks
- Swimmers for your partner (in case he/she wants to get in the birth pool)
- Toiletries including toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, lip balm, maternity pads, nursing pads
- Music and a speaker
- Essential oils and a diffuser
- Massage oils (I like to use sunflower or almond oil as they don’t have much scent, you can add your essential oils like lavender, clary sage and mandarin to a birth mix)
- Homeopathic arnica and rescue remedy flower essence
- LED candles for dim lighting
- Snacks, water and drinks like coconut water
- Something comforting like your own pillow or favourite blanket
- Your birth preferences list