Becoming a mother for the first time is a very unique experience. You’re excited to meet your baby and probably happy that the pregnancy is over, but at the same time, you may be feeling anxious and worried about your birth experience. This is completely understandable as giving birth can be complicated and scary, especially if you are unprepared for what might be to come.
Sarah Shapiro is an experienced midwife and mum who has seen a lot in her time working in labour and delivery wards. She has compiled a list of things that she wants all pregnant women to understand before attending the birthing suite.
“While it’s often impossible to predict how your labour and delivery will go, there are ways to prepare and help ease any worry you might be feeling leading up to your labour,” Shapiro writes for Parents.
“I’ve put together a list of what I want pregnant people to know before heading to the delivery room. And as a mum myself, I feel these simple tools can make all the difference.”
The first thing Shapiro suggests for mums-to-be is to research and understand the labour and delivery process. She advises attending ante-natal and baby care classes that are usually held at the hospital where you will be giving birth. Don’t just Google or ask your friends about their experiences, really educate yourself on what to expect. There are many books that can help here, too.
“For your labour, you won’t need as many things as you think,” Shapiro writes. “The advice I give to my friends is to bring a long charging cord for their phone, their own gown if they want, lip balm, and snacks.” Everything else – like a car seat and baby clothes – can wait until after the baby is here.
“Many of my patients expect delivering a baby to be like the movies,” the nurse continues. “Their water will break and then a few minutes later someone will yell, “The baby is crowning,” and that will be it.” This is far from a common birth experience which can take many hours or even days. It is important to be patient and have a reasonable expectation that your delivery will take some time.
Labour is Painful
While this one is common knowledge, perhaps the pain of giving birth is often overlooked. “Contractions are typically painful but as your labour nurse, we want you to have them so you can have a baby. We have tools to assist you with that pain depending on your setting, such as movement, position changes, IV pain medication, and an epidural.”
Make the Delivery Day Yours
Shapiro wants new mums to know that they have some control over how they experience their deliveries. She recommends that labouring mums bring along things that make them feel comfortable, like a diffuser for aromatherapy or a speaker to play a special playlist. Always check with hospital staff that these items are okay to use in the birthing suite before setting them up.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions
“Your providers are here to help you,” Shapiro advises. “If the plan of care changes, it’s okay to ask questions. It’s also okay to ask for a few minutes to think things over before making any decisions. Even after your baby is born, don’t hesitate to get answers to any concerns you may have. As the medical team, we are here to support you.”