As moms-to-be, we are given huge amounts of advice and guidance on how to physically prepare for labor.
From eating well, to staying active during the 3rd trimester, learning about Braxton Hicks contractions and even perineal massage, we are bombarded with information on how to cope during the later stages of pregnancy as we tentatively prepare for our baby’s arrival.
At times, however, the emotional side of preparing for labor can be somewhat overlooked.
Whether you are preparing to give birth for the very first time, or are preparing for the arrival of a sibling or second child, the prospect of labor can be incredibly overwhelming. Feelings of anxiety, stress and even fear are very common in the last few weeks of pregnancy, but it’s important that moms-to-be look after their mental health as their due date approaches.
Here are some tips on how to mentally prepare for labor:
Communication is key
Feeling overwhelmed or even slightly panicked about the prospect of giving birth is perfectly natural, but try to avoid bottling up how you are feeling. Chances are, your partner is also experiencing some anxiety about the impending birth experience and talking through your feelings and discussing what is on your mind can be a great source of comfort and reassurance for both of you.
If you have friends or family who have recently had children of their own, asking questions and calmly discussing your worries can really help dispel those fears and provide alternative viewpoints from the ones you create in your own mind.
Choose your sources wisely
Whilst research and asking questions can be beneficial in preparing for labor, choose your sources wisely. Reading up about others nightmare birth stories whilst preparing for your own is probably not recommended – people are often far happier to share the challenges they experienced than the more positive birth experiences, so approach with caution!
Instead of googling or asking questions into the online plethora of shared birth experiences, talk to a trusted friend who will be honest about their experiences without exaggerating or sugar-coating the truth.
Ask your medical team
If you don’t feel you have all the facts and still have questions about pain relief, labor or what happens after the birth, ask your healthcare team or midwife for advice. Trust me when I say, there is no question that they won’t have heard before – no matter how ridiculous it may seem. If it’s causing you sleepless nights, give them a call and put your mind at rest.
Be kind to yourself – Remember to look after yourself both physically and mentally. Eating well and exercising not only helps physically prepare your body for the demands of labor but can also increase endorphins and ‘feel-good’ hormones that will improve your overall wellbeing and mental health too. Switch off the tech, get a good night’s rest and get outside in the fresh air – boosting your vitamin D.
Accept that some things are out of your control – Whilst a birth plan can be helpful when preparing for labor, appreciate that sometimes, what happens during labor can be outside of your control. The most crucial birth plan is one that delivers your baby in the safest way for you and your child.
Remember your body is amazing – As normal as it is to think “I can’t do this” – trust your body – you absolutely can. Stay positive and remember that your body knows what to do. You have successfully nurtured your baby for the last nine months and it’s finally time to meet them!