We’re here to prepare you both physically and mentally for your big day.
Forget the actual labor—the mere thought of delivering your first baby can be downright terrifying! If you’re lucky, giving birth might even be your first over-nighter in the hospital. These tips should arm you with information and confidence, resulting in a better birthing experience for everyone involved.
Well before your water breaks, make sure your overnight bag is packed and ready to go—the last thing you need to worry about as you start pushing is whether you packed enough underwear. Other than a snuggly outfit to go home in, you don’t need to pack much for your soon-to-be new addition; the hospital will supply everything else. You, on the other-hand, will require a little more planning.
Here’s a list of a few necessities:
- Toiletries (think: shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, ChapStick, a toothbrush, shower flip-flops and your makeup)
- A few pairs of underwear (the perfect occasion for those comfy old granny panties!)
- Pajamas, slippers or socks and a loose-fitting outfit for the ride home
- A fully charged camera and phone (bring chargers and extra batteries just in case)
- A friend or family member on stand-by so you aren’t panicking when the big day arrives. You should know who will be taking care of your kiddos at least a month before your due date, or around the same time you start packing your hospital bags.
Talk it out
If this is your first time giving birth, the whole process probably seems foreign to you. Knowing how the procedure works can make it feel a lot less scary. “It’s important for women to take the time to read books about birth and to do some research on the Web. They will be having about 16 prenatal doctor’s visits and should make the most of those opportunities to ask questions and get information firsthand from their doctor,” says Dr. George K. Tweddel, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, New Jersey.
Your doctor should be more than happy to walk you through each step, so don’t hesitate to ask. His job is to keep your best interest in mind, so make sure he knows what kind of birthing experience and environment will make you feel the most comfortable.
Don’t forget to communicate with your partner as well. You may be the one delivering the baby, but you aren’t alone in the process. “Also important for women is knowing that after labor is over, they’ll be able to rest and will have the support they need to deal with a newborn. They need to know that there will be people there to nurture them so they in turn can nurture the new baby. This means putting a support system in place before they go home,” says Dr. Tweddel.
Before the big day arrives, tell your partner how he can best help you to feel more at ease. You might be someone who welcomes a few words of encouragement, or maybe listening to your partner yell, “push, honey!” isn’t your idea of help. Either way, let him know.
Easier said than done, we know, but giving birth is called the miracle of life for a reason. You cannot possibly prepare for every bump along the road to delivery, but you can choose to remain positive along the way. Stress will only compound the uncomfortable and painful experience that giving birth inevitably is. “Anticipatory anxiety about labor can be eased if a woman feels that she is up to the task physically. Limiting weight gain and maintaining good muscle tone are both helpful in feeling like you’re at the top of your game when you go into labor,” advises Dr. Twedell. He continues, “Pain management is key for many women, and for that I often recommend meditation practice. Lamaze classes can also be helpful.”
During the weeks leading up to your due date, chances are you will feel swollen, exhausted and ready to push that baby out. Take this time to relax and have some “me time” before your bundle of joy arrives. Take a bath, read a book or take a long nap, but whatever you do, make it about you.