When you hear the word labor what comes to mind? Do you feel nervous, anxious, excited, scared or happy? Or are you near the end of your pregnancy and at the point where you are just ready to get on with it and meet your beautiful baby? Maybe you are experiencing all of these emotions? If the term labor kick starts an emotional roller coaster ride for you, you are not alone.
I have two beautiful children and have undergone labor twice. Prior to labor, both times, I underwent a multitude of feelings at the thought of labor. Both births were completely unique. With my first born, my son, I was induced at 37 weeks due to a medical complication. I was in the hospital for five days. The induction took a long time and I was in labor for quite a while as well. I decided to have an epidural. Once things were moving and my son was ready to come into the world the delivery was swift and I welcomed a happy and healthy baby boy. With my daughter I woke up in the middle of the night with contractions. We went to the hospital a few hours later. My daughter was born 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital. There was no time for an epidural or pain medications. In fact, they hadn’t even checked me in all the way when I delivered my sweet girl. We were released from the hospital 24 hours later.
Having gone through two very different labor experiences I wanted to give some insight into what I recommend to prepare yourself physically and mentally for this incredible journey.
First of all be organized. Your labor could be quick or slow. You could be at home or out and about. It can happen in the middle of the night, or during the hustle and bustle of the day. Once labor starts you want to be able to focus on the labor itself, and not figuring out where the hospital is, or finding your birth plan, or locating a cell phone charger. Work with your delivery provider and support folks to plan what you will need to know and bring, prior to labor. If you are delivering in a hospital then have your hospital bag and diaper bag ready by 36 weeks. Take a tour of the birthing center. Know how to get to the hospital and what to do when you arrive during and/or after business hours. Have a plan in place for any kiddos or pets at the household. If you are having a home birth then make sure that the birth room is cleaned and prepped, as well as all necessary supplies obtained by 36 weeks of gestation. In addition, arrange for pet care and/or childcare if needed during delivery. The more organized that you are beforehand, the more grateful you will be when that moment finally comes and you can just be present in that experience.
Labor will be a remarkably powerful, physical and emotional experience. Have items on hand that will help guide you through this event positively. These are things that make you feel safe, secure, happy and calm. These could include: your favorite snacks, a playlist of your favorite songs, an ultrasound picture of your baby, a family photo, your favorite pjs, a comfortable birthing gown or a favorite book, just to give you a few examples. Make this journey yours and bring items that will help you to focus and be comfortable throughout this process.
I know that support personnel might be circumstantial currently based on COVID-19 protocols near you, but if allowed, have the support people at your side that are going to make you feel loved, secure and will support you through the highs and lows. This is an intense and wonderful experience and you want the person(s) there who want to be by your side, and who you want by your side during this momentous occasion.
Prepare yourself physically as much as possible prior to labor. If you are able to do any light exercise, including pelvic floor exercises, then I would recommend doing so. Moving your body will help it prepare for the process of labor. However, please always listen to your doctor’s instructions and to what your body is telling you. Maintaining your health during your pregnancy is essential in aiding in the labor process. I know from experience that it is challenging given how you can feel during pregnancy and especially if there are any complications, which I had as well. However, even small things like drinking enough water and taking your prenatal vitamins can go a long way in providing both your body and your baby’s body with the vitamins and minerals you both need. Here at Promise we have a specially crafted line of prenatal vitamins tailored to both of your needs at each trimester. In addition to maintaining your health prior to labor I recommend finding ways to aid your body through the labor process. Attend a birthing class, speak with your care team and/or research pain management including: breathing exercises, positions that will alleviate pressure, counter pressure your labor support can provide and medications available.
Not only do you need to prep your body for labor, but you need to prep your mind. Repeat daily affirmations that radiate positivity towards your health, your baby’s health and the labor process. A couple examples include: I am strong, my baby is strong and healthy, my body will guide me through labor and labor will be an amazing journey for my baby and I. Set aside a couple of affirmations that are special and easy to remember that you can repeat to help guide you through contractions. Practice meditating. This gives you time to listen to your body, as well as to connect to your baby. During my pregnancies I would state my affirmations while rubbing a stretch mark prevention cream on my belly. This made me feel like I was sending these thoughts directly to my baby. We have a wonderful, natural and hydrating belly butter you can use daily during meditation or affirmations. Setting the intention of a safe and wonderful labor is key to your labor experience.
All of us at Promise are so excited for the unique and beautiful labor experience that awaits you and your baby(s). Our dedicated team and our lovingly crafted product line are here for you every step of the way before, during and after your labor journey.
By Courtney Bunn, Washington
Motherhood and Lifestyle Blogger