Nine months can seem like a lifetime, especially when you’re anxiously awaiting the newest member of your family. What should you be doing during this exciting (and sometimes scary) time aside from… waiting? The second half of your pregnancy is an ideal time to start planning for your baby’s arrival, including the childbirth experience itself.
Below are 10 things that you can do to help prepare yourself and your family for the big day:
- Do your research – These days there are many options to consider as part of the childbirth experience, from the delivery room set up and environment to pain management to birthing positions. Now is an important time to review all of these options and decide what is best for you and your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get opinions from your physician and other moms who have been there before. After all, the more you know, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
- Create a birth plan – Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to map out your labor and delivery experience. The plan should include who will be supporting you in the delivery room, your labor and pain management preferences, and post-delivery care for you and your baby. Once you have finalized your plan, you should review it with each of the people who will be present in the delivery room or accompanying you to the hospital. Make two copies, one to be kept in your medical file and the other to place in your hospital bag. For more information on creating a birth plan, check out this helpful guide.
- Take a childbirth class – If this will be your first delivery, a childbirth class will help you understand the childbirth process, teach you coping skills like breathing and relaxation techniques, and give you the opportunity to see where you will be giving birth. Childbirth classes will also help you understand specific medical considerations, immediate newborn care and breastfeeding.
- Stay active – Regular exercise is beneficial to you and the baby!.As long as your physician approves, walking and light stretching can help ease the discomfort that often appears at the end of your pregnancy. Exercise also keeps your muscles from tensing up. If you enjoy swimming, consider a prenatal aquatics class that will help strengthen your legs and core, which is helpful during a vaginal delivery.
- Get your support team in order – Whether you want only your spouse or your entire immediate family, decide ahead of time who you want supporting you in the delivery room. Once you decide, let those closest to you know so that they are either prepared to meet you at the hospital when labor starts or know to wait until they hear from you post-delivery.
- Find a pediatrician – Less than a week after delivery your baby will need to visit the pediatrician’s office for their first checkup. Trying to find the right pediatrician while recovering from your delivery and caring for a newborn is less than ideal. The best time to find a pediatrician is early in the third trimester, when you still have time to ask for recommendations, do research on your own and meet with different doctors.
- Take care of that to-do list – Getting things in order at home and at work will give you peace of mind during labor and help things go much smoother when you leave the hospital. Basic things to check off your to-do list include:
- Installing the car seat
- Making sure your nursery is set up and your baby supplies are stocked
- Arranging for care of your other children and/or pets
- Pay monthly bills a little early so that you don’t have to worry about them post-delivery
- Finalize the details of your maternity leave
- Transition work tasks and projects to the person(s) in your office who will be covering your maternity leave
- Get yourself ready to go – Packing a bag or searching for directions in the middle of a contraction is the best way to forget something that you need. In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, take time to pack your bag and figure out the best way to get to the hospital and where you will park. If possible, pre-register at the hospital so that you can cut back on the paperwork upon your arrival.
- Take time for you – After the baby comes, you won’t have a whole lot of time for yourself. Give yourself some pre-baby TLC with a haircut, manicure/pedicure, pregnancy massage or even just a leisurely day at home binge-watching your favorite TV show. If it’s relaxing, go for it!
- Don’t psych yourself out – As your due date gets closer, it’s common to have some anxiety about the upcoming delivery, especially if this is your first childbirth experience. The more anxiety you have the more uncomfortable things will be, so try your best to stay relaxed. If friends and family are sharing their two cents and it is making you even more nervous, it’s okay to ask them to stop. The same goes for other people’s childbirth stories. Stay positive and keep the focus on your growing family!
The period leading up to your delivery can feel exciting, stressful, joyful and scary all at the same time. This is normal. If you have questions or concerns about labor and delivery, don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider or birthing coach. Being as prepared as you can be will help you have the best childbirth experience possible.
Dr. Nina Nardello is an OB/GYN at The Women's Center of South Shore Medical Center in Weymouth and is currently accepting new patients. If you’d like to register yourself or a family member as a new patient, call 781-682-1686 or request a call from a new patient registration specialist.