By the time you go into labour, you’d want to be relaxed and excited about your new life as a mum. Make sure everything is ready in good time. Don’t forget that your baby could come early so make sure you aren’t working when you’re close to your due date, otherwise, going into labour early could throw you for a loop.
Here are steps to take before the first contraction.
1. Practise pelvic exercises
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles is vital in pregnancy. The muscles are underneath your pelvis and support your vagina, urethra and anus, and keeping them in shape can help prevent bladder problems after birth. A toned pelvic also shortens first-stage labour and the pushing time, according to medical experts.
To work your pelvic floor, squeeze your muscles as if you’re trying to stop yourself peeing mid-flow (but don’t do this when you’re on the toilet). Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat eight times.
2. Do a trial run
To minimise the last-minute frenzy, it’s important to do a trial run, as you’re unlikely to think rationally about car parks or shortcuts to the hospital in the middle of contractions. Make sure your petrol tank is full in the final weeks of pregnancy, your IU card is topped up and spend some time getting familiar with the infant car seat.
3. Get baby essentials ready
Focus on newborn essentials rather than gear you’ll need later on, like a high chair and play gym. Along with stocking your freezer and shopping for baby gear, ensure your home is organised — cleaning or finishing DIY jobs that there won’t be time for with a baby. Think about what you will need, not just your baby. A comfy tank or nursing top and shorts, and a radio on your bedside table is a good start, plus some luxuries such as a favourite hand cream and magazines.
4. Organise your birth plan
Chances are, you probably won’t stick to your birth plan during labour, but the process of writing it is useful as it can help you consolidate your feelings about birth. Keep your birth plan close to one A4 page and consider laminating it, so it’s less likely to be torn or lost.
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5. Sort out your maternity leave
The last thing on your mind when you’re in labour is your job. Give yourself enough time to sort out your maternity leave in case your baby comes early, and tie up loose ends to avoid lengthy handover. Arrange to speak to your boss before you go, and clarify any concerns you have. State if and how you wish to be contacted — an e-mail, for example, might be preferable to a telephone call.
6. Discuss your preferences
Whether it’s your husband, mum or best friend, you need to discuss your preferences, hopes and fears for labour, as well as voice your preferred environment. You may have your own ideas about how you want it to go, but remember to convey it to your birth partner.
7. Prepare yourself mentally
Knowing that you’ll soon be having your baby is both exciting and daunting. Medical experts suggest that you keep calm with visualisation techniques by “placing your birth fears into a hot-air balloon and watching it float away.”
Alternatively, practise breathing exercises — breathing in for four seconds, then out for eight — to help relax your muscles during a contraction. If you’re still feeling anxious, try writing down a list of your worries on a piece of paper then write a positive statement for each one that will comfort you.
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