Expectant parents are faced with endless questions, fears, and worries when preparing for their childbirth experience.
You’ll find yourself obsessed over everything when preparing for labour: your baby’s birth, maintaining a healthy pregnancy, your plans for pain management, if you want a midwife, hospital birth vs home birth, and the overall birth experience.
It can be stressful and nerve-wracking to plan for giving birth. It’s important to find ways to make this process stress-free, for a healthier mum and baby. The best way to alleviate the concerns of yourself or your birth partner is to develop a birth plan when preparing for labour.
While the plan itself may be modified once the day comes, the general plan will give you a foundation for what to expect and how you want to manage this monumental experience.
Birth Plans: They Are Not One Size Fits All
The most important thing to remember as you develop a birth plan is the need to do what is best for you and your partner. The birth plan template you choose can look different for others depending on different preferences. Pregnancy complications or health care concerns can make birth look different for everyone.
For example, some expectant mothers prefer natural childbirth and others would rather use medication for pain relief. Some mothers give vaginal birth, whereas others need a cesarean section. Some mothers want an at-home water birth whereas others want a hospital stay. Some families welcome several generations into the labour room while others prefer a much more private environment.
There is no “right” way or “wrong” way to approach this. All birth plans should be personalised to fit your birth preference, with the ultimate goal of having a safe delivery and healthy baby.
Labour can be fairly easy and quick for some mothers but painful and long for others, so you should also prepare (especially if this is your first child) for anything. The tips we have outlined below have been proven to help women in a wide variety of birthing plans and should help you achieve a smooth and stress-free process.
Tips to Make Birth Stress-Free
Tip 1: Take a Childbirth Class
Some expectant parents groan at the thought of a birthing class, childbirth education can be an invaluable experience, especially for first-time parents. Birthing and labour experts can prepare you for all the things that will happen to your body as you deliver your baby, so you go into labour with the knowledge of what your body will go through.
These classes will help you better understand what happens during vaginal delivery as well as C-section delivery, and they will also prepare you for what you will experience as you recover.
Birthing classes typically include learning breathing exercises, coping mechanisms for pain control, and massage techniques, with involvement from your partner as well. Instructors will share tips to help you stay calm as labour begins and give you an honest idea of some of the challenges you may face after birth, including everything from mastitis (engorged breasts) to prolapse (when organs protrude into the vagina after birth).
While some of these experiences can sound scary at first, a class can help you mentally prepare for these possibilities and stay calm if you experience them. Education is key when it comes to your birthing and labour plan. The Sydney Pelvic Clinic offers free, two-part seminars on pregnancy and birth preparation. If you want to take advantage of this seminar, you can contact reception and book your spot.
Tip 2: Make Choices About Your Environment
While there may be some limitations to what you can set up in your birthing environment (your hospital may reject your request to have a live string quartet in the delivery room), you can plan in advance some reasonable elements that will increase your comfort level and ease your stress.
This could mean everything from scented oils to music to the presence of a doula. Think about the things that soothe you and calm your nerves in stressful situations, and try to implement some of those elements in your birthing and labour plan.
Tip 3: Leave Vanity at the Door
During the labour and birthing process, there is no need to feel shame or embarrassment about what is happening to your body. Your medical team has seen it all before, and you should not allow yourself to be consumed by this kind of worry.
Dealing with childbirth and labour pain isn’t meant to be a pretty experience. Childbirth is an incredible process, and you should embrace feelings of wonder and awe that your own body is capable of such a feat!
Tip 4: Go With the Flow
One key to a smooth and stress-free birthing experience is working with (and not against) your body. Try to move as you experience contractions, lean into your birth position rather than tensing up as if you are trying to somehow push them “away.” Also, try to visualize each contraction as your baby one step closer to entering the world. If you can find a way to see them as positive experiences it can make the pain a bit easier to digest.
You must also allow yourself to rest between contractions, conserving your energy for the process ahead. Leave the timing of your contractions to your partner to monitor and record; this is an important role for a support person and it allows you to relax and rest in between during active labour.
Tip 5: Do Not Panic
Perhaps the hardest piece of advice for any expectant parents is this one: Do not panic. If, for example, your medical team determines you need to have a cesarean section, stay focused on a positive mindset and do not be discouraged.
Unnecessary panic could affect your blood pressure and add stress to an already difficult process for your body. Trust that the medical team is working to deliver your baby and do what is best for you and your little one.
Ready to Plan?
As you develop your own plan for a smooth and stress-free birthing process, the team at Sydney Pelvic Clinic can work alongside you to prepare you for labour and recovery. Our knowledgeable and dedicated team is committed to helping new parents through every step of the process with comprehensive services and unmatched support. Find out more >>