Best Practices and Recommendations for Labor Preparation

Preparation for Childbirth Delivery that needs to be done

Want to know how to prepare for labor? Check out the following article. As the due date approaches, are you still clueless about what needs to be prepared? Having knowledge and thorough preparation are two essential assets for a quick, easy, and positive birthing process. However, the feeling that you have to do everything to achieve the “perfect” labor process often leads to unnecessary anxiety.

Indeed, the list of things to prepare before giving birth is extensive, and the preparation process itself can be quite exhausting. Not to mention the input and comments from various sources. Don’t worry; there are always ways to simplify it all so that you can still enjoy your pregnancy.

To face labor, you need to be physically, mentally, and financially prepared. Here are important things to prepare:

1. Prepare the labor costs and postpartum budget

Since the early stages of pregnancy, it’s advisable to start inquiring about the labor costs at the chosen hospital. Ask for details on the costs of normal delivery and Cesarean section for the selected class. These estimated costs usually only consider the normal scenario, meaning there are no complications or additional procedures involved.

Also, consider the expenses for postnatal baby care. These expenses are necessary for baby needs such as various baby gear, essentials, baby food, breastfeeding equipment, and the monthly cost of a baby caregiver.

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2. Seek information by attending childbirth and baby care

classes Having sufficient knowledge is the key to making informed decisions during pregnancy and childbirth. However, too much information or information from unreliable sources can lead to fear. To obtain accurate information, it is advisable to attend childbirth classes taught by trained and certified nurses or doctors. These classes are usually offered in hospitals and are best attended by expectant parents.

Choose classes that teach relaxation techniques, breathing methods, various labor positions, pain relief options, and basic newborn care. It’s also advisable to attend breastfeeding classes to understand the fundamentals of proper breastfeeding, its challenges, and how to address breastfeeding-related issues.

3. Select a medical team and birthing place you trust

To have a positive birthing experience, ensure that you are surrounded by trusted and competent medical professionals and are in a place where you feel comfortable.

4. Prepare your body and mind

To prepare your body and mind, there are several things you need to do:

  • Get enough rest. Adequate sleep, especially in the third trimester, will make you feel more refreshed and energized. Try to rest early and take naps when needed.
  • Eat right. Fill your body with balanced, nutritious food to facilitate a smooth birthing process and recovery. Consume nutrient-rich foods, especially those high in protein, such as lean meat, legumes, nuts, yogurt, and fatty fish. Make sure you also consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
  • Stay active every day. Light exercise, such as a 30-minute daily walk, will keep you healthier every day. It promotes better sleep and relaxation and can reduce the risk of complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, low birth weight, macrosomia, hypoglycemia, and congenital abnormalities.
  • Practice relaxation exercises. Training your mind through meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises will help you stay focused and relaxed during labor. You can also do stretching exercises, visualization techniques, or hypnosis to reduce fear and anxiety. These methods have been proven to help first-time mothers manage their fear and reduce depression symptoms before and after childbirth.

5. Learn how to anticipate pain during labor

Labor can be painful, and in fact, there is no single method that is 100% effective at relieving pain. One thing that can help is to view the pain of childbirth as something positive. Generally, pain is the body’s way of signaling that a part of the body is injured. However, labor pain is different. The presence of this pain signals that it’s time for childbirth.

In general, you will be more relaxed and better able to cope with pain if you:

  • Prepare yourself by learning about labor and taking antenatal classes.
  • Practice relaxation and breathing techniques.
  • Stay active and try various positions to divert your attention from the pain. These positions and movements also help the baby to turn and move through the pelvis.
  • Try to remain calm and focused.
  • Have a partner to support you during labor. If your partner is unavailable, you can ask a parent, close relative, or medical professional for support.
  • Take a bath or soak before entering the delivery room.
  • Stimulate your senses with music, warmth, touch, and pressure on pain points.
  • Ask your partner or a close person to massage your hands and feet. This will increase the release of endorphins, providing comfort and relaxation.
  • Remember to drink plenty of water and urinate every 2 hours.

In addition to the above methods, you can also discuss safe and effective pain relief options during labor with your obstetrician. This will make you more confident and able to go through the entire process.

6. Prepare the hospital bag Start packing the bag to take

to the hospital in case you need to leave at any time. Typically, this is done about 1-2 weeks before giving birth. Look for reliable sources that can serve as references for the list of items to bring when the day of delivery arrives. Remember, the list may be long, but these items can be simplified and tailored to your specific needs.

7. Build a strong support system

Before giving birth, establish a strong support system with close individuals who are willing to help. Don’t hesitate to say “yes” if someone offers extra assistance, such as cooking meals, doing laundry, or even taking care of your pets. Consider using the services of a doula before giving birth. A doula is a trained professional who can provide physical and emotional support to expectant mothers before, during, and after childbirth.

8. Document your birth plan

Understanding that your plan for the entire birthing process aligns with your personal preferences will make you more confident in facing it. Therefore, you need to create a birthing plan checklist, including:

  • Desired support during labor and who will be present in the delivery room.
  • Whether you want to be able to move and try different positions.
  • Pain relief options during labor.
  • Who will cut the umbilical cord, and whether you want to preserve it.
  • Breastfeeding plans.
  • Whether you want immediate skin-to-skin contact or to have the baby cared for in the nursery.

Discuss these plans with your obstetrician well in advance. However, keep in mind that this does not guarantee that your labor process will go according to plan. Unexpected things can always happen. Be confident that you and your doctor share the same goals: a safe and comfortable childbirth experience for both the mother and the baby.

9. Prepare all the necessities at home

Pregnant women in the late third trimester, specifically when the pregnancy reaches 38-39 weeks, often experience “nesting.” This is a desire to clean and organize the house in preparation for the baby’s arrival. It also includes providing everything needed for the household, the mother, and the baby.

10. Recognize the Signs of Approaching Labor

As the estimated due date approaches, there will be several changes in the body that indicate the onset of the labor process. These changes include:

  • Lightening. This is the sensation that the baby has descended, and the head is deep within the mother’s pelvis. Since the baby is no longer pressing on the mother’s diaphragm, you will feel lighter or more comfortable when breathing. This sensation can occur from several weeks to a few hours before labor begins.
  • Discharge of the cervical mucus plug. During pregnancy, the cervix produces a thick mucus plug as a way to keep the baby inside the uterus. When the cervix begins to dilate, usually a few days before the labor process begins, this mucus plug will be pushed into the vagina. You will feel the discharge of clear, pink, or slightly bloody mucus. The longer this discharge lasts, the more it will increase in amount.
  • Rupture of the amniotic sac. In layman’s terms, this condition is described as the “breaking of water” from the vagina. When the amniotic sac has ruptured, immediately contact your doctor or midwife and follow their advice.
  • Contractions. When labor contractions arrive, you may feel pain in the lower back or pelvis. The pain can be similar to menstrual cramps but with greater intensity. True labor contractions occur in a regular pattern, with increasingly shorter intervals. These contractions need to be distinguished from false contractions, also known as Braxton Hicks contractions, which can occur for weeks before the labor process begins.

Here is a summary of the differences between true labor and false labor. You may or may not notice these changes before labor begins.

 

True Labor ContractionsFalse Labor Contractions
Timing and FrequencyRegular, rhythmic intervals, and they get closer together. Each contraction lasts about 60-90 seconds.Irregular and contractions do not get closer together. These are called Braxton Hicks contractions.
Changes with PositionContractions continue even if the pregnant mother rests or moves/walks.Contractions may stop when the pregnant mother walks, rests, or changes position.
Contraction IntensityIncreasing in strength over time.Weak and do not become stronger. Instead, they may start strong and then weaken.
Location of PainContraction pain starts in the lower back area and radiates to the front of the abdomen.Only felt in the front of the abdomen.

The only way to confirm that the labor process has indeed begun is by performing a vaginal examination (vaginal touch or cervical check) to determine whether the cervix has dilated and to what extent.

11. Don’t worry about what worked for other pregnant women.

During pregnancy, you’ll likely receive advice from various sources—parents, extended family, relatives, friends—telling you what to eat, how to do things to ensure a smooth childbirth, and so on. To avoid stress, there’s no need to dwell on the success stories of others. What worked for previous mothers may not necessarily be suitable for you. You and your doctor are the ones who know what’s best. Consider all of this as their way of showing concern to help you navigate through this smoothly. Essentially, you can follow such advice as long as it’s proven and feasible. In this regard, always cross-check information with your doctor.

Finally, prepare yourself mentally to face changes in plans.

As much as you plan for the childbirth process, the reality may not always align with your expectations. There’s a saying that humans can plan, but it’s God who determines. Therefore, your mindset should be ready to accept any changes in plans, especially if the childbirth process turns out to be different from what you desired. In the end, always remember the ultimate goal of childbirth, which is to ensure the health of both the mother and the baby. Also, keep in mind that childbirth is just the beginning of a new phase in your family’s journey. The real work awaits after all these processes are completed. Best wishes as you prepare for childbirth!

Source:

  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Sample birth plan template. URL: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/health-tools/sample-birth-plan.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. [Last reviewed Nov 2021]. How to tell when labor begins. FAQ004. URL: https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/how-to-tell-when-labor-begins.
  • What to Expect. 12 ways you can prepare for labor. URL: https://www.whattoexpect.com/pregnancy/labor-and-delivery/preparing.aspx.
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