Expecting? The Essentials of being prepared for birth

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
March 15, 2023

If you are currently expecting, you are probably spending a considerable amount of time preparing. Outside of buying cute onesies, prepping a nursery and having a shower, you might want to put aside some time for a birth class. This is especially true if you want to increase your chances of having a particular type of birth, or if this is your first birth.

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Birth doesn’t always go as planned

The phrase birth day wishes, instead of birth plan, should be one that you know and understand. Birth is unique to every person because it rarely goes as planned. As you get closer, you will have ideas on what type of pain management you might want to include, what type of birth you want, or even how involved you want your partner. I am not going to cover my birth here but instead the main takeaways for you. If you want to read my birth story, you can here.

Preparing doesn’t give you the birth you want

Taking a birth class by no means guarantees you the type of birth you want, but it will increase your chances of it. That being said, you really want to focus in that last month on preparing for the birth you want. For example, if it is very important to you to have a natural birth. You need to be well-versed in ways to cope with pain. While I never got the chance to try it out, I have friends who love the Hypnobirthing model which promotes a change in mindset towards birth and teaches a variety of pain-coping strategies.  One course that stands out to help you learn the Hypnobirthing model and technique is Hypnobubs.

No idea what type of birth you want, but want to be prepared?

I would recommend signing up for a birth class that isn’t specialized but more covers everything. If you don’t like or feel like any of the ones in your area fit you, you should look online. Try to find ones that are by nurses, doula or other medically relevant personnel such as The Online Prenatal Course for Couples.

Don’t count on nurses and medical staff as your main source of support

Medical staff has one primary focus which is to ensure you and baby are medically stable and safe. They work to constantly prevent anything from going wrong, which is good as you want them to be focused on this. Why? Because at the end of the day, you want to go home alive and healthy with an alive and healthy baby.

The US has some not so great statistics and has one of the highest rankings among first world countries on mother deaths from giving birth. Therefore, you do want a competent medical staff whose primary focus is keeping both you and baby medically stable. Haven’t picked your hospital yet? Look into their stats to see if it is the right choice for you.

On that note, nurses and medical staff might offer encouragement and suggestions to help manage pain. But you’ll want to ensure you already have other people in place help you out. A spouse or a partner is usually the preferred option. In this case though, they are just as new to birth as you and might not know how to help you. If you want them to be the best they can be at it, then you need to ensure they are prepared for that role. Sign up for a birth class that is focused on this. Can’t find one in your area? Check out this online class called Supporting Her.

Prepare for the birth you don’t want

I am not sure I can emphasize this enough especially if this is your first time. You might have heard a lot of stories but in your mind, you still think birth will go differently for you than those people. A lot of women end up needing to cope with disappointment on not having the birth they want. You can make postpartum easier on yourself by starting this process now. Postpartum hormones also play a role in this but when you set yourself up for having everything go a certain way and it doesn’t, you will feel like you failed in some ways.

Don’t forget photography

I include setting up photography in my 17 ways to prepare for baby because babies change so fast. You must take newborn photos in the first two weeks or they don’t curl up in that cute ball anymore. You also don’t want to book last minute. Do your research and find a photographer who includes digitals (digital rights to ALL the photos) in their photo session. Digital rights allow you to have all the photos to send and share with family, to frame and hang up, to include in a printed baby book, or even just to have on your computer. If you buy a photo session, remember that is all you are getting. The session without any photos. You will end up having to then pay individually for printing or digital rights which is insanely expensive.

Have photos done at the hospital

Even if it’s not for when you give birth, you will regret not capturing those first few days. I know, you feel and look disastrous, but photographers are amazing at capturing the feelings and emotions. I promise when you look back you will be so glad you have photos of your brand-new baby. Additionally, it is very hard to get photos of your new family outside of selfies. Everyone who visits will be so focused on the new baby and not on taking family photos for you.

Ensure you have prepared your home for baby

I am not talking about baby proofing your stairs, you can hold off on that for a while. I am saying take some time to ensure your fridge is stocked. You have diaper changing stations set up on every floor. You might have an unexpected C-section which means doing stairs to just change a diaper won’t happen. We have two detailed posts on preparing your home and bringing baby home.

Postpartum care

Outside of now having a new baby to take care of, you have to allow your body to heal from birth. Even if you don’t have a C-section or tear, your body went through labor and birth. There is a reason they call it labor and it is intense on your body. Start by prioritizing rest. When baby sleeps or doesn’t need to breastfeed, sleep.

Don’t try to have a clean house, and accept help. Ask for help, people love to help but usually don’t want to overstep or don’t know how to. You also want to invest in post-partum care products that I cover in my 17 ways to prepare. These include maternity pads and witch hazel pads. I would also recommend sitz baths (baths where you fill it with enough water to just sit).

Remember it is only the beginning

Birth is a monumental task that signifies the end of pregnancy and the beginning of your life with your new baby. While you hope birth might go one way or another, try to remember that even if it doesn’t, you have so much to look forward with your new baby. You can’t even fathom all of the life you two will go through together, and birth is just the beginning.

Keep preparing

For more ways to prepare, head on over to our Expecting section. To get a jumpstart on Breastfeeding, check out our breastfeeding section or our free breastfeeding 5-day email course.

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