What is Childbirth Preparation?
Preparing for childbirth is one of the most exciting times for a woman; however, it may also be a time of fear and anxiety for a mom-to-be. During this transitional period as a woman may start preparing for the special new addition to her family, she may also have to come to terms with the many adjustments that will have to be made. Staying organized, positive, relaxed and planning properly can help make the childbirth process easier.
Start preparing early
You should ideally start preparing for childbirth months in advance. Select a certified obstetrician/gynecologist, physician or midwife that you are comfortable with to assist you with the childbirth and delivery.
Ensure that early and regular prenatal care is put into place and that you are consulting with your physician and following the prescribed dietary and nutritional requirements. Maintain an emotional connection with your unborn child during the pregnancy period by massaging your belly, through meditation or music to strengthen the bond with you and your baby.
Educate yourself and keep yourself informed by reading books, watching DVDs or attending workshops on pregnancy, Childbirth, diet, baby and woman’s care. Consider joining a Childbirth preparation class with your husband or partner to learn more about childbirth, birthing choices, baby care and breastfeeding.
Choose a birth site – this is the location where you will give birth and this is usually the birth room of a hospital, a birthing center (a facility that provides a homely atmosphere but does not have the advanced facilities of a hospital) or your own home. Visit the birth site you have selected so that you can familiarize yourself with the surroundings. A good idea is to start preparing your home for the new arrival. Stock up on baby diapers, baby care supplies, infant car seat, clothing, and toiletries.
You may also want to start preparing the nursery, choosing paint for the room, a crib, and night lamp. Explore childcare options if you intend going back to work as well as educational planning for the newborn. If you have other children, now is the time to help them prepare for a new sister or brother!
Exploring Childbirthing Options
During your third trimester you should discuss your birthing options with your healthcare provider. Create a birth plan where you can summarize your preferences for the labor and childbirth. This document is simply used as a tool to inform your doctor, partner and close family and friends what your preferences are regarding management of labor pain, childbirth and postpartum care. There are various types of delivery methods, and these include natural vaginal or cesarean delivery.
Natural childbirth refers to birth without any conventional anesthesia medication or surgery. Women who opt for this natural birth either use Lamaze or the Bradley method, which are breathing and relaxation techniques to minimize pain. They usually give birth at home with the help of a midwife away from a non-medical environment. A water birth where babies are born in a tub of water is another method of natural childbirth.
Some women may choose medications such as an epidural or IV to help relieve the pain during vaginal delivery. However, any conventional ‘drugs’ used in labor can affect the baby, too – which leads many women to investigate natural options. In certain cases, tools such as forceps (resembles a large spoon) or vacuum delivery (plastic cup is applied to the baby’s head by suction) may be used to assist the mother to give birth.
If you experience any complications such as the baby is not in the head-down position, the baby is too large to pass through the pelvis, or the baby is in distress, a cesarean delivery or C-section may be performed. This is a surgical birth where an incision is made into the abdomen and uterus to allow the baby to be born. A C-section is usually required after labor begins.
C-sections should be thought of as a last resort (if medically needed), as the natural occurrence of birth triggers hormones to be released into a woman’s body – these hormones let her body know that a baby has been born. However, with a C-section, these triggers are bypassed. A decision may also have to be made regarding the umbilical cord – whether you would want to keep it, (some woman bury it and plant a tree as a spiritual reference) or you may consider donating the umbilical cord for blood banking or to preserve stem cells.
Help for Childbirth Preparation
In the eighth month of your pregnancy, you and your partner will most likely be sorting out some last minute details. To eliminate additional stress on the day of the delivery, you may want to pre-register at the hospital before you go into labor. Here you can read and sign the necessary pre-admission and medical consent forms in your own time. Arrange another tour of your birthing center so that you can check on visiting hour schedules, find out about parking passes etc.
More and more women are choosing natural and holistic treatments such as herbal remedies to help prepare them physically and emotionally for natural birth. Herbs such as Squaw Vine (Mitchella repens), Raspberry leaves (Rubus idaeus) and Passiflora incarnate help prepare the body for labor and childbirth as well as relieve fear, anxiety and nervousness about the delivery. In addition, Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and tonic for the uterus to stimulate contractions. Natural remedies formulated for childbirth and labor are side-effect free and won’t cause harm to mom and baby!