When it hits you all of a sudden that day in your third trimester… “that baby I’m growing *gulp* it’s going to have to come out”.
Cue panicked Googling of ways to make childbirth less painful, faster, or even avoiding labour.
This fear, it’s normal. But, it’s also SO unproductive.
Want to know what I did to prepare?
A little backstory on me (Lara). I am a nurse so I have studied this stuff, done student placements, and actually worked in Labour & Delivery after I graduated… this stuff wasn’t new to me and I had seen plenty of people deliver their babies. I have even been their primary care provider and caught their gorgeous little babies! Like I said, not a foreign concept to me.
Yet, I still had the normal “freakouts” when I realized it was going to happen to me soon.
#1 Get Your Partner on Board ASAP
When I was pregnant, I wanted my husband to just “get it”. I needed him to know what I wanted and exactly how he could support me through childbirth and postpartum. After seeing so many couples think they were prepared, this wasn’t even optional for me.
Early on in my pregnancy, I knew I wanted to do what I could to have a “natural birth” (read: unmedicated vaginal birth). No, this wasn’t one of those ‘playing the hero’ things, it was just what I felt was right for me. You do you, BooBoo, no judgment here.
But, after seeing couple after couple come into L&D and look at me saying “Ok, we’re here now tell me what to do” I knew that preparation for us BOTH was going to be key!
When you are in labour, it is literally the worst possible time to try and learn anything new or figure out how you can move to optimize childbirth. And if I’m totally honest, all of this starts during pregnancy and not when labour starts.
So, together we:
Did an online prenatal class with someone I thought knew how to teach me what I didn’t already know
Talked in detail about the techniques and coping that he could help me with
Attended our midwife appointments together so we were on the same page and he was just as excited as me
Read books together so we could have more good convos (I recommend The Birth Partner and The Expectant Father)
Spent time together – just us – dreaming, adventuring, and making sure our relationship was in the best space it’s ever been!
#2 Get Your Head In The Game Early
If you’ve been kicking around here for any amount of time you will have heard me mention the Fear-Tension-Pain Cycle (check out that IG post) which basically means you are now familiar with the fact that you and change your hormones!
If you didn’t know that and you are like “umm… tell me more” then check out this Free 3-day course I made just for you on that exact thing Prepping To Pop!
Mindset is ESSENTIAL.
Do most people brush off that statement as “woo-woo” or “a buncha BS”, yup! Do I continue to say it over and over, also yup!
Get this: when you are scared your body immediately reacts by releasing multiple hormones (including epinephrine, catecholamines, and cortisol) which impact your body’s natural balance of oxytocin, estrogen, and progesterone. Changing these can impact whether your body will start, continue or stop contractions altogether!
Fear = possibly not starting or even stopping labour.
So, my recommendation in pregnancy (or even earlier): work on your mindset. Bring that baseline stress level down as far as possible as early as possible.
Using something like Gentle Birth App can be so helpful!
#3 Prepare Your Body Physically
Did you know that the way you sit, lay or even sleep can impact your childbirth?
Your pelvic floor muscles, core, posture, and movements in late pregnancy become one of the most important and easily deciding factors for reducing:
length of your labour
length of your pushing phase
likelihood of perineal tearing
It also hugely impacts your postpartum recovery!
For example: if baby’s head is facing up (OP position) during birth you could experience substantially more back pain, also called Back Labour, and make the likelihood of you asking for pain meds or an epidural much higher.
Knowing how to prevent or help flip baby out of that position can help to prevent some of those issues from coming up in the first place!
So, what did I end up doing?
I had my son on a hot August day in 2018 in a hospital room here at the DECH in Fredericton, NB. I was able to advocate for myself, have my husband and Midwife looking our for my best interests, and walk away knowing that I was a freaking ROCKSTAR!
PS – I HATE the term “Natural Birth”. Every birth is natural and every single birth is valid. Each of us has our own opinions, values, and things we want to see happen during childbirth. In the Empowered Birth Prenatal Course, I teach you about all of the birthing options, medications, and choices you can make in your birth experience to make it YOURS and exactly what you need!