Every year in the United States, millions of women give birth — which means millions also go into labor. While labor is a natural part of giving birth, there’s no denying that it strains your body. Taking steps to prepare for labor can minimize that strain and improve the overall labor experience for you and your baby.
At The Center for Women's Health in Newport News, Virginia, Katherine Hilsinger, MD, FACOG, Douglas Thom, MD, FACOG Cheri Coyle, MD, FACOG, John M. Fejes MD, FACOG, Mary E. Lynch-CNM, MS, Christine Dileo, DO, Branden A. Deyerle, MD, and Kristi Taylor, WHNP-BC, offer complete obstetrics care, helping women get ready for labor with support and guidance tailored to their needs. In this post, learn what you can do now to prepare for that big day in the future.
Keep every prenatal visit
Prenatal office visits feature exams and tests to keep you and your baby healthy throughout pregnancy. These visits can also identify issues associated with high-risk pregnancies, ensuring you and your baby get important care before delivery.
Regular exercise reduces stress and the risk of gestational diabetes and other potential pregnancy complications. Daily walks, swimming, or prenatal yoga are all good choices for helping you relax and optimizing your muscle tone. Exercises that tone your pelvic muscles may reduce discomfort associated with labor.
Practice relaxation techniques
Learning stress management techniques like deep breathing can help you stay calm and focused during labor. Consider prenatal massage as well.
Sign up for childbirth classes
For first-time moms and moms planning to have a vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC), childbirth classes provide information on what to expect during labor and delivery, along with strategies to help you manage contractions. Birthing classes are popular, so sign up as soon as possible.
Tour your hospital
Most hospitals offer maternity ward tours to help you understand what to expect when you arrive and during your stay. You can also ask about what items to include on your packing list. Don’t forget to ask about the type of car seat required at discharge.
Eat a healthy diet
You and your baby need proper nutrition to stay healthy and strong. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy form the cornerstones of an optimal prenatal diet. Eating right also reduces your risks of pregnancy problems that can interfere with delivery.
Plan your labor
While you can’t predict with 100% accuracy what your birth experience will be like, having a birth plan can help you anticipate the stages of labor so you feel more comfortable and confident. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) offers a sample birth plan template as a starting point.
Pack your hospital bag
Most hospitals provide some baby supplies to get you started, but you still need to pack some things for yourself and your baby. The American Pregnancy Association offers a suggested packing list.
Set up your home environment
Ensure the baby’s room or sleeping area is prepared ahead of time. Don’t stress over things like painting or wallpaper — they look cute to you, but your newborn won’t care. Focus on the crib and an area where you and your baby can bond during feeding and rest time. Consider stocking your pantry and freezer with meals for the first few weeks after birth.
Learn about breastfeeding
A lactation or breastfeeding class before birth can help you feel more confident and understand what to expect. Classes focus on latching techniques and other helpful tips to help you and your baby get the most from breastfeeding. These classes are also a great time to contact a lactation consultant who can provide help and guidance when needed.
Labor takes emotional and physical strength and energy. Preparing for labor ahead of time helps you meet those challenges and focus on the joys of welcoming your new family member.
To learn how we can help you get ready for labor, call 757-874-2229 to book an appointment with the team at The Center for Women's Health today.