The birth of a baby equals the birth of a mother. This tiny human is born and the mother emerges with a responsibility to nurture and care for a life intertwined with her own. Birth is deep. It leaves you in awe, and it is simply amazing. Yet preparing for birth can elicit mixed feelings, such as excitement, uncertainty, fear, and hard work.
We are empowered through knowledge and education. The Essential Homebirth Guide was a big help in understanding a home birth, if it was right for me and my family, and how to prepare. I researched information about the stages of labor and the birthing process and gained clarification through our birth team. As I neared the labor process (the third time around), I decided to focus on my areas of opportunity, which is mental strength and agility. Early in the morning, as the sky changed from a purple-blue to a pinkish orange, I would sit alone under the skylight and meditate. Meditation during this time allowed me to practice mindfulness and thankfulness, while focusing on my breathing. Gratitude would fill my thoughts: gratitude for being a woman, gratitude for living and breathing, and gratitude for being a vessel to carry this precious life. I embraced and welcomed the thoughts of pain, before replacing them with positive affirmations about the design of my body and what it was created to do. I knew that this would be one of the hardest things, if not the hardest thing I would ever have to physically and mentally endure, and I embraced it.
There is not one way to give birth. The important thing is to have access to education about your options so you are able to choose the best, safest mode for both you and your baby to fit your birth plan.
Whether you are planning a vaginal, cesarean, induced, or natural birth, birth preparation offers the opportunity to appreciate what your body is capable of. A woman’s body is amazing. Just think of what your body has done for you; think of the races run, the weights lifted, the yoga positions held, the minds seduced, the lives created, the babies delivered, the milk that our breasts produce to sustain and nurture a life, and the tots that have been lifted and carried on our hips. We all have something that our body has done that we can find value in as we continue to add to that list!
Since I am not an expert, I asked three birth professionals to offer their top 3 things to consider when preparing for birth:
Nikia Grayson, DNP, CNM-
- “My recommendation to families is to ignore the horror stories. Everyone wants to share their bad labor stories. Don’t listen to them, because that does not have to be your experience.
- Practice things that can prepare your body for labor, like stretching, prenatal yoga, meditation, or breathing- things that will keep you calm and focused.
- And finally, write your birth plan down. Writing it down always helps you to discuss it with your provider and gives you a chance to go over what is most important to you.”
Susan M. Rook, PT, CD (DONA), EBB Instructor-
- “Take a childbirth class. Knowledge is power. I always encourage the first time birthing person and partner to become informed about the birth process through a childbirth class that includes plenty of comfort measures practice. Practice what you learn in the class. Practicing comfort measures with a support person helps with common aches and fatigue of pregnancy while also promoting bonding with baby.
- Interview birth and postpartum doulas between 20-24 weeks of pregnancy to find the right one for you. Your chosen doctor or midwife may not be available when the time comes to meet your baby and you’re not likely to have met your labor and delivery nurse before, so a birth doula will be a familiar and comforting presence during your labor who can offer support and guidance in choosing which comfort measures to use at what time. A postpartum doula will be with you during some of the early days in parenthood and assist you with suggestion #3. (Interviewing doulas in the middle of your pregnancy means your first choice is more likely to be available.)
- Birth is amazingly significant, but still, it’s probably just one day. Prepare for the rest of your life as a parent by making a postpartum plan that includes things like meal options either made ahead in the last weeks of pregnancy and frozen for quick prep or takeout menus from your favorite restaurants that have delivery service, friends to call when specific help is needed, the number for the Tennessee Breastfeeding Hotline, and your chosen care provider’s contact phone numbers. Each person’s plan will be unique and your friends with young children can give some insider tips from their experience.”
Miajenell Peake, MSPH, Birth Doula-
- “Ensure that you have a great support system in place. Understand the difference between spectators vs. supporters. Be very cognizant of the people who will support your birth plan. If their experience does not align with what you hope to experience, they may not understand how to properly be supportive.
- Empower Yourself- Do your research. The benefits of a doula for assistance with being prepared, educated, and comforted are numerous, but it is important to advocate for yourself regardless of the presence of a doula. Do your research. Be informed of hospital or birth center practices. Understand the actions that your medical professionals will take in various situations. Have a discussion about what to expect before, during, and after birth. Inform your team of your desired birth plan. Educate yourself on the birth process and breastfeeding, as well as how your mental and physical state can be affected.
- Be proactive by creating a plan for tackling mental and emotional health issues. Community support is important. Join community based organizations such as BSTARS. Rely on family and friends who offer help and assistance. Determine how your insurance provider can help with getting adequate care from a provider. Seek professionals and organizations who you feel comfortable with. The empowerment is within you!”
If you are preparing for a C-Section, Memphis Moms Blog writing contributor, Kathryn has the perfect post- So Your Baby is coming out the Trap Door: Preparing for a C-Section.
For tips on what to include in your hospital bag, Medela has listed 15 Hospital Bag Must Haves.
Along with the must haves and the other wonderful suggestions from the experts, some other things to consider when preparing for birth that may be overlooked include:
- Preparations for the siblings to be actively involved in the birth process or cared for.
- Arrangements for sibling daily activities.
- Ordering a breast pump and pump parts.
- Speaking with a lactation counselor or lactation consultant
Get more mom tips, and expert advice, as well as a super swagged out swag bag at the upcoming 3rd annual BLOOM event!