If you’re a first-time mom who has heard birthing horror stories, you may be terrified of the idea of labor and delivery. You’re not alone! But horror stories about labor and delivery are the exception, not the rule! Approximately 7 out of 1000 women have pregnancy and/or childbirth complications. That means most women have a normal complication-free pregnancy and delivery.
But while no two pregnancies are alike, here are a few tried-and-true labor and delivery tips that can make any laboring mom’s experience a lot more pleasant:
Enroll in gentle breathing and stretching classes
You are carrying an extra load. You may not be in the mood to do any exercise, but exercise during your pregnancy will help to make your labor easier. Pregnancy exercise could include low-impact cardio like swimming or walking, or stretching practices like yoga and Pilates. All of these can help strengthen your body for the demands of labor, and they will also teach you better breathing.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that exercising can help lower incidences of preterm labor and cesarean births.
During your actual labor, you may also want to walk a few laps around your birthing room. This may help induce or progress labor as gravity will draw your baby towards your pelvis.
Get to know your care team
Whether you are going for a natural, home, water, or C-section birth, the professional birthing experts will be your saving grace during labor and delivery. You’ll be sharing one of the most intimate moments in your life with them, so it’s important to work with people you’re comfortable with.
Aside from an obstetrician, some of the professionals you may consider are certified nurse-midwives and doulas. Obstetricians are medically trained and will likely have a DNP qualification. They are therefore capable of attending births, performing gynecological exams, providing primary care, and monitoring maternal and fetal health. Doulas are not medically trained but they are able to provide emotional and physical support throughout the process until early parenting.
Prepare yourself as best as you can
There is no denying that labor and delivery are hard, which is why it’s a really smart idea to prepare yourself as best as you can. You can do this by:
- Getting your body ready with pregnancy exercises, breathing exercises, etc.
- Pack your hospital bag in advance. The last thing you want to do during labor is worry about whether you have everything you’ll need.
- Have a birth plan. By having a birth plan, your care team will know what you want and they will follow it as best as they can.
By being prepared in this way, you have less to worry about. All you’ll need to do is focus on delivering your baby.
Treat yourself to prenatal massages
During labor, many women experience cramps, headaches, and aches. To soothe this and prevent further spasms, ask your partner for a soothing massage. Rather than kneading, ask your companion to gently rub castor or vitamin E oil on specific areas like your back, feet, scalp, and shoulders. If you’re afraid of tearing, you can also massage your perineum. Starting at 34 weeks—when your baby’s size is comparable to butternut squash, you can gently massage this area with wheat germ oil or sweet almond oil to relax the muscles and skin.
Include your partner in the process
You’ll be in the throes of the moment, so it’s up to your partner to monitor you and your surroundings. A partner should keep track of your contractions, get you ice chips when you run out, stay updated with your care team, talk to visitors, offer helpful massages when needed, and cheer you on. This lets you focus on delivering the baby. It will also be super helpful if your partner is familiar with the stages of labor.
It’s important to remember if you have any concerns, let your partner and care team know! All your feelings are valid. When in doubt, just keep in mind that at the end of your labor, you’ll be getting the best reward for your efforts in the form of your healthy new baby.
This post has been written by Aida Grace Cadman