Are you a mom-to-be? Congratulations! Are you starting to feel a little bit anxious about childbirth and having a new baby? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Every pregnant woman experiences a range of emotions leading up to labor and delivery, but with the right preparation you can feel confident and well-equipped for the big day. In this post, we’ll discuss some tips on how to prepare for childbirth. Keep reading to learn more!
Problem: You’re pregnant, but you don’t know what to expect when it comes to labor and childbirth.
Childbirth can be a scary prospect, especially if you don’t know what to expect. You may feel like you’re on your own during this process.
Solution: We’re here to help. This post contains everything you need to know about labor and childbirth, from relaxation techniques to pain relief options. We’ll also tell you about preparing a birth plan, talking to your doctor, and give you some tips for preparing for your baby’s birth
But, how do we here at the Pregnancy Nurse know about all of this?
Hi, I’m Hilary — The Pregnancy Nurse 👩⚕️. I have been a nurse since 1997 and I have 20 years of OB nursing experience, I am also the curly head behind Pulling Curls and The Online Prenatal Class for Couples. 🩺 AND beyond all my years of training and experience, I’ve also had 3 children of my own and know WELL how unprepared you can feel for such an expansive life event!
How to Prepare for Childbirth
Educate yourself on the different types of childbirth and what to expect
One of the best ways to prepare for childbirth is to educate yourself on all the different types of deliveries. This includes learning about vaginal births, cesarean sections, and induced labors (yes, it’s a good idea to have a grasp of ALL types of labors — check out my post on the different types of birth). It’s important to know what to expect during each type of delivery, as well as the risks and benefits associated with each one. Talk to your doctor about your options and what they recommend for you and your baby.
Even if you’re planning on a straight vaginal birth, there may be medical conditions arise that require other options. Remember, in the United States about 1/3 of pregnant women have a cesarean section, and most of those families feel very unprepared when they go unplanned into the operating room.
Many women come in with unrealistic expectations of natural birth, so be sure to figure out ALL your options as your due date approaches.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you have
One of the best ways for pregnant women to prepare for childbirth is to communicate with their doctor. This includes discussing your concerns and questions, as well as getting their advice on what you can do to make your delivery as smooth as possible. It’s also important to update your doctor on any changes in your health or pregnancy, such as if you’re experiencing any complications.
I love how this class has a whole chapter on communicating with your doctor well. It’s SO helpful to have real-life examples to get you started.
Make a birth plan and share it with your doctor
One of the best ways to prepare for childbirth is to make a birth plan. This document will outline your preferences for labor and delivery, such as what type of delivery you would like to have and what pain relief options you would like to try. It’s important to share your birth plan with your doctor or healthcare provider so they can be sure to accommodate your wishes.
Items to put on a birth plan
Some items that you may want to consider putting on your birth plan include:
- The type of delivery you would like to have (vaginal, c-section, etc.).
- Pain relief options you would like to try (epidural, IV pain medication, massage, etc.).
- What you would like your doctor and hospital staff to do in case of an emergency.
- Who or what family members would like to be in the delivery room with you.
I actually talk all about birth plans in my free beginning prenatal class. I think you’ll find it SO helpful!
Pack your hospital bag with everything you’ll need
Now that you’re armed with some tips on how to prepare for childbirth, it’s time to pack your hospital bag! This list will help you pack everything you’ll need for a safe and comfortable delivery.
Grab my free hospital packing list right here:
To get you started, here are a few things to consider:
- A change of clothes for you and your partner
- Toiletries, such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and a toothbrush
- Comfortable clothes to wear during labor, such as a loose-fitting gown or tank top
- A going-home outfit for you and your baby
- A nursing bra and a few breast pads
- Nipple cream
- Entertainment, such as books, magazines, or a tablet loaded with videos.
- Your birth plan and other important documents (like insurance information and ID).
- Phone charger
- Ear plugs and eye mask, if you want to try some light sleep (or if your partner snores).
- Car Seat
Enroll in a childbirth class to learn more about the process
If you’re feeling nervous about childbirth, enroll in a childbirth class to learn more about the process. These classes will teach you everything you need to know about giving birth, from the early stages of labor to delivery and post-birth care. They’re a great way to prepare for the big day and to get any questions you have answered by an expert.
Finding a good childbirth educator that you trust is paramount in this process. They can discuss medical interventions more in dept with you than your health care provider will be able to in this process. Make sure you find someone with LOTS of experience.
I love that this class allows your support person to lean with you so that you can have the best birth experience possible!
Most people start a birth class in the second or third trimester (I have a whole post on when to take a prenatal class).
You may also want to consider a breastfeeding class taught by a lactation consultant or educator. I love these — Katie is so supportive and realistic, I bet you’ll love it too!
Some of the things you may learn in prenatal classes include:
- The stages of labor
- How to relax during labor
- What pain relief options are available
- What to expect during a c-section delivery
- What to expect in the hospital after the birth of your baby
- How to care for your newborn baby (and their umbilical cord)
- What to expect during the postpartum period
- How partner help can be a lifesaver
- How to make an informed decision with your healthcare team
Get your insurance in order
Birth can be a pricey affair if you’re having a home birth or giving birth in a private hospital. If you don’t have insurance, a local hospital may have a social worker you can talk to about insurance options. It is much easier to deal with this during your 40 weeks of pregnancy rather than at the birth.
Learn about the different stages of labor and what to expect
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it can also be a little daunting, especially when it comes to childbirth. Learning about the different stages of labor can help to ease some of your anxiety.
Early labor is the longest stage and lasts for an average of 8-12 hours, during which time your cervix will slowly open and contractions will intensify.
Active labor is the shortest stage and occurs when your cervix opens to 10 centimeters.
Transition labor signals your body’s transition from active labor to pushing, which typically lasts for an average of 2 hours. With the right preparation and support, you can successfully navigate each stage of labor and welcome your baby into the world.
Most childbirth education classes will go into this in detail.
Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and visualization
One of the best ways to prepare for childbirth is to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing techniques and visualization. These techniques can help you stay calm and relaxed during labor time, which can make the experience easier and less stressful. Ask your doctor or childbirth class instructor for more tips on how to relax during delivery.
Especially if you’re a first-time mom, a class that includes relaxation techniques is SUPER helpful. This one has a whole bonus video on it, as well as a lesson on medical pain management for labor pain, so you are prepared for all your options.
Second-time moms may have had a negative experience the FIRST time, so this type of class can be helpful for a lot of women.
Often these breathing exercises help you to relax your pelvic floor muscles, so the baby can find an easier way out of your pelvis. Practicing this is a great start! You can also take prenatal yoga classes that also help with this as well.
Things that may not help prepare you:
Perineal massage — studies are mixed as to if this helps or hurts. It can help in specific circumstances, so ask your provider if it’s right for you.
Listening to birth stories — I find it’s rare to hear positive birth stories. Many relate the trauma the woman may have felt after delivery and postpartum. Be mindful if the stories are scaring you, if so they are likely not helping.
So, what can you do right now to prepare for childbirth?
Honestly, the best way is to take a childbirth class. These classes offer information on relaxation techniques, how to breathe, various labor positions, pain relief options, and some tips related to basic newborn care. If you haven’t taken one yet, it’s not too late! There are SO many options anymore (vs when I had babies – I needed to sign up at my hospital at 10 weeks pregnant). I would encourage you to find one that works for you
If you enjoyed this post I think you’ll like this class as well. Remember it is…
- Easily done in just a few hours (on your couch with snacks!)
- Taught by a highly educated professional
- Affordable — the three price points are meant for any budget.
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing, check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward becoming your own birth boss.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice.
She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.