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!

Third Trimester

What to expect in the Third Trimester of Pregnancy

At week 28 of pregnancy, you officially enter the third trimester. The end is in sight!

The third trimester is an exciting time for a lot of expectant parents. It’s usually the stage where maternity leave edges closer, more items get ticked off the ‘to-do’ list, and arrangements for the birth are made.

But what actually happens in the latter stages of pregnancy? Here are a few home truths about how you might be feeling and what is happening to your body during the last few months of your pregnancy.

You might not be glowing and full of happiness

Some lucky women are just that; glowy skin, luscious hair and a glamorous bump. 

We think it’s fairly safe to say, however, that this is certainly not always the case.

During the later stages of pregnancy, mum-to-be is contending with her growing baby bump and everything that it brings. 

The following are a few conditions that heavily pregnant women might experience:

Heartburn and indigestion. This can be caused by the growing baby and hormones affecting the digestive system.

Exhaustion. Not only is mum-to-be carrying the extra weight, but she is probably uncomfortable at night and therefore getting less sleep. 

Back, pelvic and hip aches. The increasing baby weight puts pressure on the lower back area, and also joints and ligaments will also be looser than usual due to hormonal changes. 

Swelling. Ankles, feet, fingers and even the face are prone to puffiness due to water retention but also pre-eclampsia in some cases. Always get this checked if you feel concerned, as it can be dangerous to mum and baby.

Hormones. The highs and lows of pregnancy can lead to unusual mood swings. Don’t be surprised if you are happy one minute and in floods of tears the next. Always share this information with a midwife though, as postnatal depression and other conditions can begin to present as early as pregnancy.  

Try to slow down

If one thing is guaranteed to wind you up, it’s when people tell you to ‘enjoy your sleep whilst you can’. 

The truth is that when you feel like you’re carrying a watermelon around, ache all over, and the baby wants to have a party at 3am, you might not be sleeping at all! Let alone getting more sleep.

That said, listen to your body and if you are tired, try to slow down. 

The washing can wait (or someone else can do it). Ask your partner to make dinner for you. Enjoy a long bath on your own. Whatever it is, your body is doing something superhuman and using every little bit of energy that you have, so reward yourself with some guilt-free rest.

You might still feel nauseous

Sadly, morning sickness doesn’t always disappear at 12 weeks. 

Whilst more common in the first trimester, morning sickness can strike at any point in pregnancy. 

Nausea usually improves or stops by around weeks 16 to 20, but it can last longer. In fact, excessive nausea and vomiting are known as hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), which can require hospital treatment although this is quite rare.

Find out more about hyperemesis gravidarum on the NHS website.

You will want to get organised

Most parents-to-be want to be organised for when the baby arrives. 

Whether it’s buying baby clothes, choosing the pushchair, or kitting the nursery out, preparing for baby can help with feeling more ready, both emotionally and practically.

Rather than leaving it all until the last minute, the key to not feeling overwhelmed towards the end is to chip away at the list over time. 

Check out our Pushchair and Pram Advice Section, where you can find the best pram for you! 

You are more likely to worry

Pregnancy can throw up all sorts of worries, but also bring on greater anxiety. 

Concerns about birth, caring for the baby, health, becoming a parent, stress, and money worries can all exacerbate nerves and add to the worry. 

This is all completely normal and the best thing to do is talk it through with someone who can help. 

After all, it is said that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. 

Women in third trimester
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