Pregnancy is a wonderous and exciting time. It’s also a little terrifying. Wonderous and exciting because you can’t wait to meet that tiny little perfect human you are growing. Terrifying because that tiny little perfect human has to leave their current residence and the eviction will be more than likely a little uncomfortable! The idea of birth can be a little overwhelming, so we have some advice on how we think you should approach this life changing event.
Listen, Learn and Lean in
Chances are, before you were pregnant, child birth wasn’t high on the list of subjects you would engage in. In fact, most of us avoid thinking about it. At all. I mean, it’s equal parts ‘ouch’ and ‘eweee’ and a bit wtf? Am I right? But now that you are merrily ‘baking a baby’, we think it’s worth taking a deep dive (or at least a little paddle) into all things birth and labour. The more you know, understand and normalise birth, the more prepared you will be.
A birthing course, either at the hospital that you plan to give birth or at a private educator, like Tiny Hearts Education are a great place to get a raft of really useful and practical info and help you develop a birth plan. From the moment you are pregnant there is a raft of health care professionals that can help de-mystify the birth and labour process for you. So use the visits with your midwife, doula or obstetrician to ask anything you want to know about labour and discuss the birthing options available to you.
There are also countless books, blogs and apps on the subject of child birth; and of course we highly recommend brilliant local podcast Australian Birth Stories. Every mum has a birth story and when you’re pregnant, it’s time to begin hearing some of them. But just keep in mind labour stories can be much like fishing stories – so don’t let any one frighten you! Remember, the labour and birth is just a tiny fraction of the glorious parenting journey. The more you listen, lean into and learn about labour, the more mentally prepared you
If pregnancy is a season, then birth is the grand final! Now that you understand a little more about what that incredible body of yours is about to go through, it’s time to start preparing for it.
You don’t need a hectic pre-season of hardcore training. But gentle and joyful movement can help you prepare your body for labour. If you already have an active workout schedule, it might be time to adjust it to accommodate your changing body. If you take classes or work with a personal trainer, it’s really important you tell them you are pregnant so they can alter your workout where required. If you are more of a ‘couch’ than a 5km kind of girl (don’t worry, we feel you) Now is not the time to start pounding the pavement. But some low impact, joyful movement will not only help strengthen your body for labour and assist with post-partum recovery, it’s brilliant for your soul and mind too. Even a short walk (or waddle) in fresh air daily will do wonders for your mental state. Prenatal pilates, pregnancy yoga, swimming and weights – all with the approval of relevant health pros, will see you in good stead for the birth of your baby and beyond.
We all know that nourishing your body with healthy fresh food during pregnancy is really important – but when it comes to birth, the head game needs to be strong. Like a muscle that needs training, your mind could do with a little help preparing for birth too. We know you will be told to relax and breath during birth and if you’re not well practised at that, it’s going to be extra bloody hard. So, pack yourself a metaphorical bag of tricks and techniques to help you on the day. Meditation is a BIG one and if you’ve never done it, it can be tricky – but pregnancy is always a great time to start. Check out the pregnancy meditation apps available, such as Expectful and Start Now. Also, take the time to relax, if you dash from one thing to the next throughout your pregnancy, and don’t take the time to rest, you will pay for it later. Rest now – while you can!
There are loads of other relaxation techniques you can employ during birth. Make them part of your plan. Massage from your birth partner, music, water therapy such as a shower, calm lighting, the lists are really endless; use all and or any of these to help get you through.
Having a rough idea of how you would like to birth your baby is pretty important. There are loads of options available to expecting parents these days and sometimes its easier to make those choices before you are in labour. It is really important when creating this plan, that your support person is fully across what you would like, they have ONE job on the day and that is to advocate for you. When you are at a point where making or conveying decisions or wishes is hard for you, they need to be your voice. Write it down, take it with you, discuss it with your birth team in the beginning.
Things to consider when making your plan:
- Where you will have your baby?
- Which hospital would you like to give birth at?
- If home birth is an option for you, which professionals will you engage to be by your side. How will you make the space comfortable for you?
- Extra pillows from home?
- Do you want access to a bath or shower. Which relaxation aids do you need to bring along? How do you feel about pain relief?
- There are many options here and you need to have an idea of which ones you would like to utilise and when. What’s the plan when it’s not going
- Do you want to make a cord blood donation or keep your placenta?
How will you manage visitors and what guidelines will you put in place for your birthing team regarding your baby’s first feed, that all important skin on skin time with mum and dad, vaccinations, staying for a longer period of time if required, managing feeds etc. Chat about this now and make sure your partner has your back and will be prepared to have the tough conversations for you as needed.
Remember, birth plans are just that - ‘PLANS’. It may not go down how you imagine; because these babies have other ideas about their grand entrance. So while it’s important to plan, it’s more important to deliver a healthy baby in a safe way. In a nutshell - a plan is great, a flexible approach to the plan is even better!
Alright Friends. If it’s nearly game time, lets get that bag ready. What do we put into said bag? Great question! Let’s break it down!
Birth Suite Essentials
- Your birth partner or support person. Now while they won’t fit in the bag, they should almost certainly carry it.
- Your birth plan – written down
- Relations aids and techniques including appropriate tunes or downloaded bingable Netflix for between contractions
- Big refillable water bottle to keep your hydrated and snacks to stop you getting hangry
- Comfy pyjamas – ideally button down for nursing dressing gown or your fave comfy, warm cardi and some slip-on slippers or shoes (birks and socks are totally acceptable maternity
- B.C.Us - Big comfy undies (Kmart all the way) or if you wanted to something a bit nicer for the birth we adore our Bimby & Roys! Obviously you’ll know your body best, but seriously I had no idea with my first birth just how much I would need several of these post birth.
- Pack all the Pads! Maternity and breast pads – we love the Toms organic maternity pads. Also Multi-Mam Compresses to cool your nipples in those first few days, you can thank us later.
- Heating and cooling pads also help for those swelling boobs in the first week too – see BodyIce Woman Maternity Care Ice Packs.
- A big fluffy towel and your fave toiletries in an easily identifiable bag – we firmly believe in the power of a hot shower, make sure that first one after birth is as lush as possible.
- A massive water bottle.
- Your phone charger! Keeping a charged phone for all the congrats messages and four million photos of the new love of your life!
- Newborn nappies and wipes.
- Stretchy swaddles, onsies and singlets – enough for a few days
- A baby blanket – our Uimi cot blankets are to die for available right here!
- Infant formula and bottles if you don’t plan to breastfeed
We’ve popped a handy downloadable pdf list of all the important things to take to hospital here. And if you need a hand setting up your nursery, or some advice for new Dads or some tips for naming that new baby, head on over to check out our other helpful journal advice here.