Ready for the birth

Preparing for the Birth

As the days tick down and the midwife appointments become more frequent, the big due date draws closer. It’s almost time to meet your baby!

Naturally, it’s a really exciting time, but inevitably worry, anxiety and panic can also set in. 

Read on for some tips on how to feel ready for birth and confident for the start of your parenting journey.

Pack your bags 

Having your hospital bag ready and prepped for whenever your baby decides it’s time will immediately calm your nerves. 

Spend some time going through your lists of what to pack in a hospital bag. Make sure you’ve got everything ticked off for both you and baby, and tell your birth partner where it is kept. Remember you don’t need the kitchen sink. Space can be limited, so just take what you think you will need.  Your partner can always collect things for you while you are in hospital.

Keep any hospital notes or letters with your hospital bag so that nothing gets forgotten.

Book into antenatal classes

Many people attend classes with National Childbirth Trust (NCT), but these are not your only option. 

Ask your midwife, health visitor or GP about NHS classes locally. 

These will inform you of what to expect in birth and the first few weeks, but also a great way to meet other parents who are expecting babies at the same time. 

Do your research

Pregnancy and birth are such personal experiences. No two bodies, births or babies are the same. 

It’s handy to do some digging into what options you have available to you when the time comes. It will make you feel more comfortable about making decisions if you have more information.

You might want to consider:

  • Where you might have the baby; labour ward, midwife-led unit or home birth. 
  • What pain relief options are available and how you feel about them.
  • A visit to the birth facilities.
  • The availability of birthing pools if you’d like a water birth.
  • Hypnobirthing and how it can help with labour.

Consider your birth plan

Birth can’t be planned for as it’s down to nature as to how it will play out. That said, it can be useful to write a birth plan to communicate your wishes or concerns to the staff working during your labour. 

Keep it flexible, as birth can always change, but perhaps make a note of what you wouldn’t want to happen. 

Try not to be too disappointed if the experience isn’t what you expected though. Unfortunately, these babies don’t always play by the rules!

Expect delays

As well as doing their own thing, babies also work on their own timescales. 

Unless your labour is super speedy, expect it to be a long process. If you’re induced, waiting for a c-section, asking for an epidural, there might be delays depending on staff availability. 

Women ahead of you will be prioritised, so if their babies are coming faster, you might have to wait. 

Try not to dwell on how long it is taking, and rather make the most of your last few hours. Look forward to meeting your baby, pack a book, download a boxset or try to sleep as much as you can. It could be a long few days.

Feel however you feel

There is no right or wrong way to feel after having a baby. 

You might be exhausted or full of energy. You might be delighted or a little overwhelmed. You might be looking forward to lots of visitors, or want to be left in your own little bubble. 

However you feel, just know that it’s 100% up to you. Accept your feelings and go with your instincts. Just be you.  If you are concerned about anything or worried about low mood, seek medical advice from your health visitor, midwife or GP. 

Batch cook meals

Once you and your baby arrive home, you may feel like you don’t have time to prepare food. You’ll want it to be ready when you’re feeling hungry. It’s also important to eat properly when breastfeeding and just generally to keep energy levels up.

Fill the freezer with plenty of nutritious pre-cooked and portioned meals that you can simply heat up. Ask friends and family to do the same too, to keep you stocked up. 

There is lots more you can do to prepare for the birth, but the key is to not put any pressure on yourself.  Women have been having babies for years and you just have to let your body do the work, and look forward to meeting your precious bundle very soon!

Feel free to check out our Pregnancy Advice Section for some more helpful tips!

The Honest Midwife

midwife pregnancy and birth questions

Midwife pregnancy and birth questions

  1. Can you please advise on sleep positions in pregnancy

During the first few weeks it is OK to sleep as normal, but when you have a bump it is best to sleep on your side.

Whilst research shows there are benefits to sleeping on your left side, sleeping on either side is OK. You can read more on sleep positions on the NHS website.

For comfort you can try a pillow or cushion between your legs or a pregnancy pillow which cushions your bump and back

2. How soon after the birth should I start breastfeeding?

As soon as possible really. The first milk (colostrum) is really good for your baby, as it contains so many nutrients. When baby is placed on you after the birth it may feel like the most natural thing in the world to bring them to the breast and let them feed. But don’t worry if your baby doesn’t latch straight away. All babies are different. Just ask those looking after you for a little help if needed to get baby feeding.

3. Do you advocate colostrum harvesting and how should it be stored?

Colostrum harvesting is basically the process of hand expressing the first milk. I am an advocate of this as it can be helpful to have in the early days when you return home after having baby.

My class on a Wednesday evening talks about colostrum harvesting and all things infant feeding click here to book a class

4. Do you have any tips for an expectant mum who has been told she is expecting a very large baby

Try not to worry, your hospital will keep an eye on things, but if they think baby is growing too quickly they may advise induction of labour. My best advice is to relax, not worry and trust your midwifery team. Follow a healthy diet and continue with light exercise. For more information on induction of labour sign up to a Complex Labour & Birth class here

5. My three week old has dry skin on her legs; any recommendations?

I would suggest the old fashioned way of putting a little olive oil on it. I would not recommend using products, especially this early, but if you do want to use a product on the market be sure to check the ingredients carefully and that it can be used safely on newborns.

7. What is the best way to stop breastfeeding?

Slowly. It does depend on how long have been breastfeeding as to how long this should take. Don’t just stop, as this could cause discomfort and in some cases mastitis. Try to do it slowly over 3 or 4 weeks, dropping a lunch time feed first, then others

9. What does it mean when baby is back-to-back?

When baby enters the pelvis ready for delivery, the ideal position is that their head enters the pelvis with the back of its head and back against mum’s tummy. Around 10 – 15% of babies enter the pelvis with the back of their head and their spine against mum’s spine. Most back-to-back babies will be delivered completely normally, but it may be more difficult and take longer.

In the latter weeks of pregnancy try avoiding slouching on the sofa to help prevent this.

10. Membrane sweeps – where are they done, when and are they safe?

Membrane sweeps are generally done from 40 – 41 weeks, depending on your surgery or health centre. Generally they are safe, but there may be a slight chance of bleeding, but not significant – it may be just where the cervix has been caught. Also, it is possible that your waters could break. It is entirely your choice whether you have a sweep.

11. Do you have any tips to ease leg cramps during the night?

You can try some gentle stretches before getting into bed and during the night if you wake up. One of the best tips is to drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Join the lovely Carly at Let’s Talk Birth and Baby for a beautiful pregnancy yoga session which may help to settle those legs.

You can find answers to many commonly asked questions on the NHS website.

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