By Ruby Matley
This is it! Everything leads to this. You may be feeling anxious, excited, cautious and impatient in the lead up to birth, these are all normal. Don’t put expectations on yourself when it comes to the type of birth you want, mama – just like pregnancy, every birth is unique, and sometimes it may not go as you may have ‘planned’.
It’s all about keeping an open mind, preparing for birth (as much as you can), being realistic in your expectations and staying positive… knowing that the health and wellbeing of you and your baby is paramount. That way, you won’t be disappointed if your birth doesn’t go as you hoped. Remember: There is no failing when it comes to birth.
Sometimes it feels like birth stories all seem to be negative – we rarely hear the positive stories. But I promise they do exist! In the lead up to birth ask your midwives and friends for reassuring birth stories or listen to podcasts and read up on positive birth experiences.
What to do when preparing for birth
1 // Write a birth plan
A birth plan allows you to communicate to your doctor and/or midwife what you and your partner would like to happen during and straight after your baby’s birth. A birth plan often includes details about where and how you would like to give birth; the name/s of your support person/people; your preferences for managing pain, monitoring baby, cutting the cord and what happens to your placenta; and any other information you wish to communicate to your birth team.
2 // Share your fears
Be open and honest with your doctor, midwives or doula about your fears. Know that doctors and midwives have heard everything you can imagine, so there is almost nothing they haven’t heard before!
3 // Take a class
Sign up for an antenatal class to gain more insight into birth, and/or take a calm birthing class where you can learn to meditate and practice breathing exercises.
4 // Tend to your ‘life admin’
When it comes to your first pregnancy, you might be unsure of what practical steps to take in preparation for your baby’s arrival. Getting some things prepared earlier rather than later will help you to relax and stress less leading up to the birth. This may be simply paying bills or finalising paperwork for maternity or parental leave.
5 // Embrace the nesting phase
You might even start to get the urge to ‘nest’ as you near your due date – you may be eager to bake, declutter the house or spend a day washing and folding baby clothes.
6 // Tick off the essentials
Make sure you have your hospital bag ready, install your baby’s car seat or capsule, and assemble your baby’s bassinet or cot. And don’t forget to stock up on nappies and wipes, plus toilet paper and other essential household items.
7 // Cook
Cook loads of meals and freeze them. It sounds tedious, but I promise you will be thanking yourself when you’re tired and hungry and there is home cooked meal ready to go.
8 // Create a space for feeding
Make sure you have a comfortable chair and a water bottle, bib or muslin wrap, breast pads and snacks at arm’s reach. Sterilise bottles and equipment if you plan on bottle feeding.
9 // Pack your postpartum toolkit
Fill a ‘postpartum box’ with maternity pads, breast pads, wipes, nail clippers, hair elastics, reading material and snacks.
9 Months by Dr David Addenbrooke and Ruby Matley, RRP $34.99, published by Pan Macmillan.