I’ve never given birth before so I’m assuming it’s ridiculous to think anything can actually prepare you for it. As if watching videos or reading books is anything like the firsthand experience.
If nothing else though, it makes me feel better. Like I’m being proactive, creating the perception of having some sort of control. But I’m not kidding myself to think “I’ve got this” because of the following steps we’ve taken.
I’ll probably just lose my shit and turn into a monster. But for now, here’s what I’ve been up to.
My Birth Plan
I decided very early on to not have a birth plan.
The majority of the women in my family, including my mother, are nurses. One of my Aunts has been a labor and delivery nurse for 45 years. The idea of a natural or at-home birth has never occurred to me. I simply feel (and, by the way, with a total lack of judgement of any woman’s personal choice in the matter), that there’s just too much that can go wrong, and go wrong quickly during labor not to deliver in a hospital. So I’ve pre-registered at the hospital where my mom works, which also has the highest level NICU in the area.
Though I obviously have holistic/natural health leanings, I also firmly believe in modern medicine. I think that labor and delivery especially, is an area of health care where we’ve been doing a bang up job of improving an otherwise painful, and historically dangerous, process.
Reading between the lines here: I’m all about that epidural. Or as my doctor so eloquently put it: “Here’s your birth plan: Head to the hospital. Grab the first nurse you see by the throat and demand an epidural.”
I’m not planning to assault any nurses, but I’m also not planning to ask for any earlier pain intervention. Only because historically, pain medication makes me feel sick and I don’t want to puke more than necessary. I hate puking.
How We’ve Been Preparing for Labor
Prenatal Training (for me, not Joel)
When I was living Upstate my friend had a baby that weighed almost 11 lbs, vaginally. I know, I can’t.
She is Superwoman and she’d been raving about a class for prenatal and postpartum exercise called Pregnafit. As soon as I could stay awake long enough in the afternoons my first trimester, I signed up and fell in love immediately.
Before I’d even shared the news of my pregnancy with my friends, Pregnafit gave me a supportive group of women to talk to three to four times a week about all things pregnancy and baby. Even the instructor, Nora, was pregnant (she just had a gigantic baby too!).
What I love about Pregnafit is how strong it made me feel. It’s strength training specifically geared toward, and safe for, pregnancy. Nora is an expert in prenatal training and postpartum recovery. And when I sadly had to move and couldn’t find anything like Pregnafit in my hometown, she agreed to do online training with me and send me personalized workouts throughout the pregnancy. She also has an 8-week postpartum recovery program for when I’m cleared to exercise after giving birth. You have to check her out.
Joel and I just went to an all day birth class and Labor & Delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be delivering at. I’m glad we went, though it may have made us both a bit more anxious. They walked us through what typically happens for both vaginal and a c-section deliveries, when to call the doctor and head to the hospital, what to expect afterward, the breathing stuff, etc. It was a positive experience all around but it also made it very real for us.
Holy shit, you guys, we’re having a baby! Note: we were also the only couple grossed out and giggling during the videos.
I’m heading to my breastfeeding class tonight. My OB practice provides them and an RN and childbirth educator will be running it. Breastfeeding seems to be difficult for a lot of new moms, and it’s important to me, so I figured the more I know the better I can troubleshoot. Plus, the course was inexpensive and offered by my physicians so, why not?
Neither Joel nor I have ever taken care of a newborn. I don’t actually recall ever changing a diaper before, come to think of it, so this online class seems like a good investment. I don’t want to go overboard but, seems like it can’t hurt.
I’ve read a few books since all this started:
Bringing Up Bebe – This book talks about the French philosophy of parenting and their current attitudes toward pregnancy. It struck a chord with me and I’m really glad I read it. I actually plan to read it again before my due date. Because for this anxious American, it helped put my mind at ease when I was first pregnant and was mildly freaking out. It’s also written by another anxious American so, it’s a fun read as well.
On Becoming Baby Wise – Every mom I know who’s had kids sleep through the night at an early age (say 12 weeks old) has told me to read this book. Sleep training can be controversial, everyone has their own approach or philosophy they believe in, and again, I have zero judgement of any woman’s personal choices. But from my own observation of the young families around me, I’ve come to the conclusion that when everyone is getting a good night’s sleep, the baby included, everyone is a lot happier. So that’s what we’re gonna shoot for in our house.
I’ve read this book twice, I had Joel read it on vacation, and we plan to follow it as best we can.
The Happiest Baby on the Block – Recommended by a few friends and bloggers I follow, I’ve just cracked this one open so I’ll have to report back. The main premise seems to be, that the first three months of life are really comparable to a fourth trimester, so it’s easier to manage if you think of it in those terms. The best way to soothe an upset baby, when feeding and changing don’t work, is to recreate a womb-like environment that they feel safe and cozy in through a combination of The 5 Ss: swaddling, side lying, shushing, swinging and sucking. Like I said, I just started it, I’ll let you know how it goes!
Breastfeeding Made Simple – Haven’t even opened this book yet but, the instructor at our birth class last weekend said the best thing you can do to prepare for breastfeeding is to read as much as possible, so that’s what I’m going to do. Will report back.
The Two Random Things I’ve Been Eating
This one is random and might just be a useless old wives tale but, since it can’t hurt, I’m going for it. There’s actually some evidence to back this up though. Read here and here. And my super smart friend who won Jeopardy a bunch of times ate them and had a short, easy labor. Fingers crossed emoji.
Basically, it seems there might be a correlation between the consumption of the date fruit and shorter, easier labor with fewer interventions or augmentations. Who knows? My doctor looked at me like I had three heads. But, like I said, can’t hurt and dates are yummy. I’ve started eating two or three a day and will up it to about five or six as I enter the last month of pregnancy. Here’s hoping for a nice, soft Halloween cervix!
I’ve talked a lot about my tummy troubles over here on the blog. So when I realized that chronic constipation (often times from our prenatal vitamins) is something most pregnant women complain about, I was worried. I started eating one prune every morning after breakfast and I have to say, I’ve hardly had any constipation at all.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been doing over here to try to prepare my body and mind for this new adventure.
Are you a mom? Pregnant? Do you have anything to add? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!