Pregnancy – especially a first pregnancy – is often an exciting time. Expectant moms wonder what their baby might be like, and spend time thinking about the perfect name, getting the nursery ready and the impossibly tiny clothes washed and put away, ready to be worn when the little one arrives.
But there are also some parts of pregnancy that can be more nerve-racking than exciting – labor being one of them. As the due date approaches, that piece can start to feel more and more real: This baby WILL be coming out, and what in the world will that be like?
Not to worry, mamas to be! Here are a handful of ways to stay calm during labor (and these are all things you can prepare for before your baby’s birth.) True, you never know what your birth experience will be like, but there are definitely things you can do to prepare.
1. Voice your fears in advance
Go ahead – share your anxiety leading up to delivery if you have it! Better yet, share it with your partner or your care provider or other women who have experienced childbirth. Having a strong support team who can anticipate specific things you may be worried about and being able to talk through some of those fears in advance can really help. You may learn that you have misinformation about some of the things you’re worried about, or you may hear birth stories from other mamas that help you feel less anxious. Regardless, you’ll have a strong support system in your corner.
2. Create a peaceful environment
Hospitals can feel foreign and sterile – very different from a cozy living room or a place where you tend to think about feeling safe and comfortable. If you give birth in a hospital, do your best to create a warm, inviting space by bringing in things like battery-powered tea lights, Christmas lights, music, and a diffuser with soothing essential oils.
3. Use water during labor
If it’s an option where you deliver, incorporating water into your labor and delivery experience can often be very calming. Even if there’s not a birth tub present, try spending some time in a warm shower while you’re in labor to help soothe your body a bit and help it lean into – rather than fight against – the birth process.
4. Know your pain management options
Sure, everyone’s heard of an epidural, but there are other methods for addressing the discomfort that comes with labor. Taking the time to dig into these options ahead of time will help you feel empowered and informed when it comes to dealing with your pain in the moment.
5. Hire a doula
These experienced women are focused on YOU during your birth, ensuring you have the support you need and helping your partner know how to best offer support as well. Because they’ve had experience at many types of births, they have a vast toolkit to pull from. If you partner with a doula during your pregnancy, she’ll take time to get to know you in advance of your birth, making the experience even more personalized.
No matter what, remember this: You’ve GOT this, Mama! Your birth experience is going to be unique to you, and at the end you’ll have a beautiful baby to show for it.