Labour of love: How to prepare for childbirth
THE magical 'expected due date' ( EDD) that you've had in your diary for seven or eight months is just that – expected. However, only a small percentage of babies are born on the day we expect them to be and some can hang onto mama for days or even as long as a couple of weeks. While it might seem like the whole world is phoning you daily asking for news, waiting until your baby is ready to be born on his own and your body has started the birthing process is generally a better option than being induced in a hospital setting. But what can you do to get ready for your baby's birth?
Pack your bag
Having your bag for the hospital sitting packed and ready to go is a good idea, and putting a list on top of it with the last-minute things you will need to throw in will help you to remember everything. The hospital may give you a list, but if not here's one:
- TENS machine ( optional), toiletries, hairdryer ( optional)
Glasses ( if you normally wear contacts)
Medications - Make-up, lip salve, hairbrush, tissues
2 bath towels, 1 hand towel, 2 face cloths
2 short nighties for the labour
Disposable pants or old underwear, one pair of warm socks
Stress balls or other gadgets, iPod and earphones, your birthing ball
3 nightgowns or pyjamas, slippers, dressing gown, two nursing bras
An outfi t for going home
2 packs' maternity pads, 20– 30 breast pads, lanolin breastfeeding cream
Mobile phone and charger, camera
Book on baby's fi rst days and breastfeeding, something light to read, pen and paper - Health insurance policy number ( if relevant).
- 3 vests, 4 sleepsuits or babygros, 4 bibs, 1 pair of scratch mitts, 1 hat
Going-home clothes – vest, sleepsuit, hat and cardigan; warm sleepsuit if cold
1 cellular blanket - Sudocrem or another nappy-rash cream
1 pack newborn nappies, bag of cotton wool pleats, a small plastic bowl for water for cleaning your baby's bum - 2 towels ( hooded) -
Soothers – if you are planning to use them. Hospitals generally urge expectant mums to avoid bringing valuables into the building. You will also need to bring in a baby car seat for going home.
Write your birth plan
A birth plan is an informal guide written by you about the kind of birth you want. A few notes or bullet points written on a piece of paper will be enough. Some
midwives and maternity units are more encouraging than others when it comes to taking your birth plan seriously.
Keeping an open mind is also important – some women fi nd that their preferred method of pain relief, an epidural, is not necessary after all, while others are taken by surprise by the intensity of their contractions. Every birth is different and no one will judge you if you need more or less pain relief than the next woman.
Questions you might want to consider for your birth plan:
What type of labour aids would you like to use?
Do you want your waters broken?
Do you want to walk about and be active during labour?
Who do you want to be your birth partner? What position do you want to give birth in?
What kind of pain relief would you like, including TENS, pethidine, the Entonox mask (' gas and air'), an epidural?
How do you feel about forceps, ventouse or a Caesarean section, if necessary?
Would you prefer alternative pain relief such as acupuncture, meditation or hypnosis, if it is permitted?
Would you prefer the baby to be cleaned before he or she is handed to you?
Do you want to breastfeed the baby immediately after the birth?
Are you happy for your baby to be given a vitamin K injection after the birth?
How partners can help
A woman's partner has an important role to play in the birth of their baby – their job during labour is to be solid and supportive through a long and sometimes stressful process. Many don't feel they are making much of a contribution to the whole process, but just being there and being supportive is really important to the woman in labour.
There are lots of practical things partners can do in the run up to labour, including driving the mum-to-be to hospital ( in the back seat of the car supported by pillows); ensuring there is enough petrol in the car and change for parking; taking some food and drink for themselves ( especially if it's the middle of the night); or for home-birth couples, infl ating and fi lling the birthing pool if you are using one.
However, they can prepare for the birth of their baby in other ways too. Try to go to antenatal classes and attend midwife and doctor visits with your partner when you can. Ask questions and take an interest. Reading birth stories can help THE magical 'expected due date' ( EDD) that you've had in your diary for seven or eight months is just that – expected. However, only a small percentage of babies are born on the day we expect them to be and some can hang onto mama for days or even as long as a couple of weeks. While it might seem like the whole world is phoning you daily asking for news, waiting until your baby is ready to be born on his own and your body has started the birthing process is generally a better option than being induced in a hospital setting. But what can you do to get ready for your baby's birth?
Mother & Babies