It may seem like 40 weeks is plenty of time to get mentally and physically prepared for the before, during and immediately post birth, but that time will fly and before you know it, you’ll be rushing to hospital unprepared and fearing the worst! It doesn’t have to be that way, with some careful planning, you can get ready and organised with time to spare. Here are the Top Ten ways to get prepared for the birth of your baby.
1. Get Educated
Many people will go by the notion of “it’ll all come naturally to me”, and you’ll be tempted to put it all out of your mind until the day comes, and all hell breaks loose. You can never be too prepared, and Glade Curtis, obstetrician says, “in my experience, women who learn about birth ahead of time are more active participants in their own birth process, which leads to better outcomes.”
Apart from getting knowledge from books and asking questions to fellow new mothers, your mother, consider taking a birthing class at your hospital of choice, where you can learn all about labor, your options when it comes to pain management, breathing techniques and options when it comes to the possibility of a cesarean birth.
“There are so many twists and turns that labor can take, and no one can predict how it will go,” says Dianne Randall, a childbirth and lactation educator at Sharpe Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns in San Diego.
“The more you understand and accept the unpredictability, the lovelier your birth can be.”
So while getting educated, expect the unexpected, and go with the flow! In the end, each birth is entirely unique and special to the individual.
2. Find a doctor for your baby
This is an obvious one, and you won’t want to leave it much later than midway through your pregnancy. You’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to find a pediatrician you’re comfortable with, and one who is of course available.
The best way to find one you’re happy with is to ask around. Referrals and recommendations from friends with direct experience will be your best bet for advice, then gather a small list and perhaps meet with each one before making your final decision.
3. Get on the same page with your partner
It’s easy to get carried away with ingesting all the information when it comes to childbirth, but don’t forget your other half! The will hopefully want to be as involved as possible, and help you in whichever way they can, so be sure to sit down with your partner and chat to them about how they can help during labor, and what you’ll think you’ll need from your partner during the very fragile newborn period.
While his life doesn’t have to change as much as yours, he may still think in those first weeks that he’ll be able to pop off to the gym, hang out with his pals after work and come home late, when in reality you will likely need him there just to give you a break! So discuss these possibilities early, to save the headaches and surprises later.
4. Talk to veteran moms about birth and baby care
There is so much in regards to childbirth and infant care, that you’ll never be prepared for or expected to happen. Leaking pee, baby blues, sex drive and more.
Some new mothers will have no problems with these matters at all, and some will have them all and some change! Being informed ahead of time will reduce any potential shock factor, and allow you to be prepared and calm, with everything that follows. So talk to other mom’s about all that they went through, and you’re sure to uncover little nuggets of information you won’t read in any book or blog post.
5. Prepare older siblings – and pets!
The attention taken away from siblings and transferred unto your newborn, can prove a terrifying shock to your other children. Fortunately, your growing family will have months to get accustom to the idea, so use that time wisely to prepare for the changes that are to come. Parents have been known to use a baby doll to help their child comprehend what’s coming, whilst older toddlers will enjoy the pretend play. This will help reduce the shock and make what’s to come, seem more familiar.
When your older child sees you for the first time since delivery, be sure to put your baby down and congratulate the new big brother or big sister with a big cuddle!
Now, a similar benefit happens with pets, especially dogs, who are very perceptive and will notice the sudden drop in affection time due to the new arrival in the family. Local trainers tend to offer classes and tips in getting your pet to develop respect for your baby, such as giving the pet a used swaddle to play with, so he or she gets used to the scent of the new addition to the family.
6. Line up for help after the birth
In the first few weeks of the new life of your baby, extra help is essential. If you are lucky enough to have a relative nearby or living with you, consider chatting to them about the specifics of what you may need to help with the transition.
How about Grandma? Well, advice leans to having grandparents helping with the baby’s home rather than the baby, such as helping with general errands, shopping, laundry, cooking and so on. This may not seem like the most romantic job for Grandma, but it will sure help you a lot.
However, it may be wise to use who you can as a well timed babysitter – so you can catch up on some sleep! A lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety and general uneasiness, so it’s critical to get some sleep as soon as you can!
7. Know what to do when labor starts
Know who to call, where to go, and how to get there, once your contractions begin. Have the numbers saved in your phone and the route to the hospital mapped out. If your partner may be working, have a back up plan for who to take you to hospital should the urgency require.
Generally you’ll call the hospital or birth centre, and you should have plenty of time up your sleeve before needing to go in, but you never know. You’d rather not be stuck in traffic on the way and have to deliver your baby in the car like this couple!
Also, be sure to take a tour of the hospital or birth centre before the time comes, where you can ask all the questions you have and get a feel for the place.
8. Decisions, decisions: Who will attend the birth
Some moms like a full room, others will want their mom, or just their partner. Certain hospitals will have certain restrictions also, about whom and how many will be able to be present for the birth. You may think you know for sure already, but give it some thought and make the decision known, to avoid offending any friends, grandmothers, etc…
Put your mind at ease and have your hospital bag packed and ready to go, weeks before your due date (because we all know, the due that isn’t always the birth date). Also, don’t just plan for the essentials, think about personal items that may make your stay a little more comfortable, such as slippers, your own pillow, a phone charger (well, that’s essential!).
10. Stock up on the essentials, but don’t go overboard!
Speaking off essentials, here are the real ones you’ll need to have sorted…
- fitted car seat
- baby wipes
- baby clothes
- nursing bras
And finally, have your household essentials stocked up on also, to avoid any unwanted trips to the shops.