If you’re expecting a baby, the to-do list is long, but thrilling, as you anticipate being well-prepared for your new arrival. Relaxation is also an important part of your preparation as the time to welcome your baby draws near.
Know that you’ve got a strong ally in Dekalb OB/GYN Affiliates in Decatur, Georgia. Dr. Shirley Rigaud-Echols and her able all-woman team offer midwife services and expert obstetric care so you can feel confident as you approach your birth. They’re available to listen, answer all your questions, and guide you through your unique pregnancy and birth journey.
Lots to think about before the birth of your baby
There are many things you can discuss with Dr. Rigaud-Echols to ensure your birth is as seamless as possible. Preparation is key, and knowing what’s down the road is calming. The more questions you have answers to, the better.
You want to create a birth plan—an outline of how, in a perfect world, you want your birth to go. For example, you should think about whether you want as little intervention and medication as possible when you’re in labor, or if you’re amenable to measures like an epidural.
Likewise, consider who you want with you, and the mood you want to create. You may want to think about things you can do to make the environment as tranquil as possible, such as low lighting, soothing music, whether you’d like to have a water birth, etc.
That said, it’s important to understand that no one can predict how your birth will go, and you need to be ready to change course if needed. Your birth plan describes your ideal scenario, but it’s important to be flexible if the scenario changes in any way.
It’s also helpful to know and discuss the three phases of labor, so you can think about what you may need or find relaxing during each of them:
Your body is preparing for labor. You experience mild contractions and clear, pink, or bloody discharge as your body releases your mucus plug, which served as a barrier to protect your baby from infection. Your cervix also begins to dilate in preparation for the birth.
This is your active labor phase, and your cervix dilates to 10 centimeters to allow your baby to make their much-awaited debut. You have intensifying contractions and actively push to get the baby out. The length of this phase varies with each woman, from minutes to hours, and the active labor phase is usually shorter when you’ve had children previously.
After your baby is born, they’re checked to see that they’re in good health. In the meantime, you deliver the placenta by pushing again, and you typically experience mild contractions while it’s detaching itself from your uterus. If you sustained any vaginal tears during the birth, your physician repairs them.
This is a momentous occasion, exhausting, and a lot to prepare for, but your body knows what to do, and you should feel confident in your ability to deliver your baby.
Preparing for birth: Concerns are more than just physical
Although your body performs a miraculous task as you give birth, you’ve taken care of lots of practical things to ready yourself. You’ve taken prenatal vitamins, eaten well, and exercised.
You’ve gotten regular checkups to monitor your pregnancy, and you’ve enjoyed creating a nursery space for your baby. You’ve also likely taken a childbirth course and a tour of the hospital.
But there are preparatory items you can check off your list that are more intangible and have to do with supporting a relaxed atmosphere that’s conducive to a calm birth and allows you to deal with your contractions better.
The more relaxed and less stressed a laboring mother is, the better your birth goes. This includes sustaining less vaginal tearing.
Let’s break up how you can relax during labor by analyzing how each of your senses can be affected:
- Looking at photos of people you love or beautiful landscapes or images can aid relaxation and concentration
- Listening to soothing music serves to calm
- Using an essential oil diffuser with your favorite scent, such as lavender or eucalyptus, offers a pleasant olfactory experience
- Warm water offers a soothing sensation, such as a hot shower in the early stages of labor or giving birth in a birthing pool
- Meditating on a successful birth and meeting your baby can help as well
Breathing techniques ease labor and almost become a meditative tool. Depending on your stage of labor, you may employ cleansing breaths, more accelerated breathing, or deep, expulsive breaths.