You've carried your little one nearly the entire way toward childbirth. Through the three trimesters, you've experienced bouts of lagging energy, sleepless nights, and myriad other challenges. In a few weeks, you'll finally have the opportunity to welcome your baby into the world. The last remaining hurdles: labor and delivery.
Both are hard work, and can definitely take a toll on your body and mind. But the experience is different for every mom-to-be. Some endure hours of labor while others seem to breeze by in relative comfort. Below, we'll share a few suggestions for smoothing the road toward an easier labor and more comfortable delivery.
Packing "Essentials" For Your Hospital Stay
Think about the items that have a calming, soothing effect on you. Include them in your hospital bag. For example, pack a few CDs that offer soft music to ease your nerves. Consider taking a few pictures of your partner or pet; even a photograph of your favorite landscape can be comforting when labor begins.
If you enjoy scented candles, take a few with you to the hospital. They can be particularly soothing when you're feeling anxious. Also, pack lotion in your bag. When your contractions become more frequent and powerful, you may wish for your partner to massage your shoulders to provide relief.
These "essentials" are in addition to changes of clothing, pajamas, nursing bras, toothbrush and toothpaste, and other necessities. They can have a major influence on helping you feel more comfortable when the contractions begin.
Methods To Help Stay In Control
Enjoying an easier labor is largely about keeping yourself under control. When you feel the initial contractions, it's natural to become excited and anxious about what's coming over the next several hours. If you can remain calm, you'll stand a better chance of easing the discomfort and focusing on the end.
Put your breathing exercises into action. One of the main goals of Lamaze classes is to help you develop a system of relaxation through controlled breathing. Now is the time to take advantage of the instruction.
Also, consider getting up and moving around during labor; the activity can accelerate the process while easing some of the discomfort. If your partner is in the room, use him as support while you walk.
Another method for staying in control is to minimize distractions. When your family is in the room talking and laughing, the television is deafening, and young children are running amok, it's more difficult to remain focused. Let others know upfront. If something in your room is breaking your concentration, have it removed.
How To Get Comfortable When Labor Begins
The general rule for getting comfortable once labor starts is to position your body in the way that feels most relaxing to you. That might include standing or leaning over. It may also include squatting since doing so widens your pelvis.
Also, try lowering yourself on all fours (i.e. your hands and knees). This removes the pressure of your stomach from your body and instead, allows it to hang. If you're suffering from back pain, lie on your side and place a sturdy pillow between your knees. Again, do whatever feels most comfortable to you - as long as your doctor approves.
Start Preparing Your Body As Soon As Possible
Your diet and exercise routine during your pregnancy play key roles in easing the labor process. Ideally, you should eat the right foods and maintain a healthy workout from the beginning of your first trimester. Doing so will help you sleep better; it will reduce your anxiety about labor and childbirth; it will help you feel relaxed and rested leading up to - and through - your first contractions.
Start preparing your body with the right foods and a daily outlet for exercise. When the time comes to go to the hospital, you'll be glad you did.