…It’s called labour for a reason.
After going through 9 months of pregnancy, you reach the end and wait in excited, nervous anticipation for the day of your baby’s arrival. For some, it comes unexpectedly, others are induced, some have days of early labour and others have scheduled c-sections. Labour and delivery can happen in all sorts of ways and there isn’t any tried and true method to garantee you the birth of your dreams. It’s one of those areas in life that we just need to trust God to see us through.
However, it’s not like you can’t prepare a bit. There are the practical matters of planning the type of birth you want, home or hospital or birthing centre. As there is no birthing centre where I live, I am an advocate of home birth. I completely believe that if you have a normal pregnancy, there shouldn’t be any reason you can’t plan to have your baby naturally at home. Pregnancy and childbirth is a natural part of a woman’s design and our bodies know exactly what to do. It’s not a medical condition that needs treatment. Some women like the hospital for the emergency situations that can arise, which are dealt with very quickly in hospital, and also the labour drugs are there. All 3 of my babies were planned home birth, all born at home and I am planning to do the same with my 4th. It really is an individual decision but for me, I like the comfort of remaining in my own home where I know I keep it clean and where I am not hearing strange noises, weird machines and worried about infectious bacteria like in a hospital setting. And I’ve had great labours overall (8 hours with my first, 3 with my second and 2 with my 3rd) and while I did experience complications with my first, my midwives competently took care of me at home. Midwives come prepared with a lot of equipment to use if needed during a home birth.
A big part of preparing for childbirth is mental. It’s a mental focus and a trust that your body knows what to do. I’d say that having a calm peace of mind is probably 80% of the preparation. The other 20% is the practical planning aspect. There are some great books out there written by midwives that I read to prepare me for my first labour. I wanted to read positive encouraging natural birth stories rather than hear about the drug induced labour trauma stories that are so often told. Try to be as informed as you can, aware of complications that can arise but not consumed by them. Make sure you know of strategies that can help you, for example, what positions can encourage a baby to emerge if they get their shoulders stuck on the way out. Having as much positive encouraging information as possible can help you understand what will happen during labour.
Physically, you can also prepare your body for childbirth by maintaining a healthy lifestyle thoroughout your pregnancy. Keeping a healthy diet and maintaining regular exercise will ensure that you are physically fit for the streneous effort of giving birth. Although, if this is your first, looking into things like perineal massage, can provide physical benefits in avoiding tearing.
There are also aids to assist in a smooth labour that are worth researching. Such as various labour positions, laying flat on your back in bed has to be the worst position to be in. You want to be up walking if you can, use a birthing ball, go on all fours, and there are a variety of positions you can choose to use during the pushing phase of labour that will allow gravity to assist in getting the baby out. Also, walking and moving will help things move along whereas laying on your back only slows the process. Trust me though, movement when in extreme pain can be extremely difficult! Water can be a lifesaver. I’ve never had a water birth but I’ve heard wonderful things about them. I’ve used a tub during labour and let me tell you, warm water is extremely relaxing and during my first labour, actually allowed me to nearly rest, almost falling asleep between contractions. Music can also be an assest if you want to listen to something during labour. Another tip, try to remember to relax your facial muscles. I know that might sound weird but if you are facially straining, than you are also not relaxed down below in your lady parts. Make a conscious efforts to relax your face (will also help your to avoid looking bruised afterwards, which can sometimes happen) and that will help you to also remind yourself to relax the rest of your body. A relaxed body will allow for a smoother labour with less tearing.
Maybe you are like me, near the end of your pregnancy and eager for the baby to arrive. Maybe you want to get things started. Well, I can’t encourage you much there. I’ve read a bunch of stuff on things to do to get labour started but I’ve come to realize that the baby will come when the baby is ready. There is really no tried and true method out there. Just be patient. That baby will come out eventually.
While there are many factors to planning your labour, even down to who will attend you and what to do if you have older children, prepare as much as you can and then just relax about the whole thing. Trust that God will see you through this crazy experience and that he created your body fully capable and fuctioning to get that baby out. You can do this and before you know it, you will hold a miracle in your arms!