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Preparing for Labour

Preparing for Labour

It is arguably one of the most exciting times preparing for your new arrival but there is plenty to think about to make sure that you are not only packed but also mentally and physically ready. Our very own Louise Broadbridge @thehonestmidwife gives her advice below on how to prep for your new arrival.

As the weeks go by, it can feel like the “to do” list is ever growing and never ending.  Just as you tick one task off the list, another one has to be added.  It may not seem like all that long ago you were celebrating finding out you had a baby on the way and suddenly you are needing to think and prepare for your labour, birth and beyond.  A good way to get yourself ready for the arrival of your new family member is to write a birth plan.

Historically birth plans have been a template, found online, which will ask questions such as, “would you like an epidural?” Or “where would you like to have your baby?”  I would encourage all expectant parents to go a little deeper than that and use their birth plan as an actual way of filling in any gaps in your knowledge that you may look back on and wish you had known.  So, to help you along here are my top 5 tips for preparing for the big day!

Antenatal Education

Birth preparation classes will really help you to get to grips with all the possible ways that your baby can make its way into the world and help you understand what is available to you in relation to where you may want to have your baby and also, what pain relief options you have depending on the location you choose.  Midwife led birthing units are a lovely “half-way house” between a home birth and a hospital unit and could be a great option if you feel undecided about a home birth. 

There are lots of different options regarding pain relief and good classes will outline how each particular drug is administered, how it will make you feel and what, if any, effect it may have on your baby.  Try not to worry too much though, you won’t be given any drugs that could be harmful to either you or your baby.

Birth partners can also really benefit from attending classes with you as they will be given some really good tips on what it means to be a birth partner and how they really can make a difference throughout labour, especially during any hours that you may spend at home before going to the hospital.

If you are looking for antenatal classes that cover all bases take a peek at our very own midwife’s popular online classes which combine humour with experience to really get you ready.  You can sign up for a FREE class here

Hospital Bag

Packing your bag ready for hospital is an exciting task but can also be a little daunting.  Even if you are having a home birth, it is worthwhile still having a bag packed just so that you have everything that you need to hand.  All too often women come into the hospital with more bags that a tired midwife has under her eyes!  Remember that labour rooms are not very big and your belongings can get damaged if they are pushed and shoved out of the way.  Try to keep to two small pull along cases - if you find you are needing more than that, you may be over packing!  It is also easy to forget your partner!  Whilst they do not need quite as much as you and your soon to arrive baby, it is worth packing some toiletries and a change of clothes so that they can freshen up should your stay be a little longer than expected. Your antenatal class will usually cover what is needed for your hospital stay but if not, there are plenty of lists available online to give you a good guide on specific items to pack in your hospital bag.

Perineal massage

It is widely researched and documented that 85% of first time mums will experience some degree of tearing during childbirth and, despite best efforts, there is little that can be done to fully remove that reality.  However, we do know that doing perineal massage from 34 weeks of pregnancy can reduce the significance of tearing.  It is really important to understand that it is reducing the significance of the tear and not the risk of tearing.  There are lots of oils on the market that are quite costly but, in all honesty, good old olive oil or almond oil will do the job just as well and save you a few pennies.  Once you have a little oil on your thumb you place the tip of your thumb (about 1 inch) into the lower part of the vagina and with a downward pressure sweep from side to side.  It can be a little difficult to visualise so but most labour and birthing classes will give you a visual demonstration.

Hypnobirthing

Hypnobirthing classes are a really lovely way for you and your partner to relax in the last few weeks of pregnancy whilst preparing your body and mind for labour and birth.  Using deep relaxation techniques and breathing exercises these gentle classes can really help to you be in tune with your body and enable you to shake off any tension during your contractions.  It is so important to understand all the twists and turns that labour and birth can take and good parent craft classes, will give you this knowledge.  Once this is in place, adding hypnobirthing skills is a great way to help you navigate any turn of events so that your birth experience is a positive one.

Pregnancy Yoga or Pilates

Finding time to relax and unwind can be difficult in your last trimester, as you are tying up any loose ends before maternity leave starts or running around after an excited, soon to be big brother or sister, but ring fencing a little ‘you time’ has never been so important.  Pregnancy can bring about pelvic girdle pain, restless legs and sleepless nights.  Spending a little time each evening before bed doing some deep stretches really is proven to improve all of these things and make for a much better night’s sleep.  Let’s Talk Birth and Baby currently run FREE pregnancy yoga every Sunday so there really is no excuse to take some time out, breathe, chill and unwind.