Thursday, April 12, 2012

10 Ways to Prepare for Baby: The Final Weeks


Childbirth is weighing heavily on my mind right now as you may have gathered from the past few posts on the topic. At 36 weeks, the end is definitely drawing near, and I am honestly ready in the physical sense but not at all prepared.

I wanted to share with you some of the ways I am preparing for the upcoming labor, delivery, and homecoming to encourage you if you, too, are pregnant or for you to pass on to an expectant Mama you know. I am by no means an expert on childbirth. These are simply things I have done that have proven helpful to me in preparing for a natural childbirth. I hope you might be inspired or encouraged by what you read here.


(1) Read some birth stories. If this is not your first pregnancy and you have written down your own children's birth stories, dig them up and re-read them. Reading our daughters' birth stories--one born naturally, the other via c-section--has made me truly see how unique the birth experience is even for the same person.  Below is a link to our first daughter's birth story. You can find lots of others online.
I also love reading and rereading the birth stories in Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, which is filled with a variety of diverse birth experiences. These stories will not only give a first-timer an idea of what to expect in your own labor and delivery, but also boost confidence in your ability to give birth naturally, something almost every woman is quite capable of doing.


(2) Exercise. I must admit that I have not done as good a job of staying active and exercising during this pregnancy as I have in the previous two. It's such a challenge with little ones, and my energy level has been extremely low. Still, I make a point to do squats, tailor sit {sitting "Indian-style"}, and stretch throughout the day. Also, I think playing in the yard with the kids counts :) Because it is much more difficult in the third trimester to sleep and stay asleep, staying active really helps you get the rest you need. Plus, it's a great way to clear your mind and relax.


(3) Stay hydrated; drink pregnancy teas. Besides exercising, though, I have been working hard to drink lots and lots of water. With my previous pregnancies, there was a concern with low amniotic fluid levels, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy. So, I try to drink, drink, drink all day long, which means that I also pee, pee, pee all night long.

Instead of boring old water, I put a bag of Traditional Medicinals red raspberry leaf tea in a 32 oz. water bottle filled full with filtered water. I try to drink at least one bottle per day using the same tea bag and several glasses of water. Red raspberry leaf is known to help tone and relax the uterus and prepare it for the hard work of labor.{Note: Be careful if you drink a lot of this tea because it will make you contract quite a bit.}


(4) Prepare mentally. I posted a few days ago about one spiritual way in which I am preparing for this labor: making scripture cards

Additionally, though, I have been rereading the following birthing books to refresh my memory about the process and the various techniques for relaxing and coping with pain.
(5) Deal with fear. Whether this is your first bull ride or eighth, I think there is always some inkling of fear in every mother leading up to her baby's arrival. Fear may stem from a previous difficult labor or delivery, uncertainty about how to care for this new life, not knowing what will happen during labor, or any number of things. Whatever fears you are feeling need to be addressed and dealt with before labor even though they may not be {fully} resolved. That's because fear negatively affects the birthing process, increasing pain and slowing down progress. 

Because this go-around I am having a VBAC {"vaginal birth after caesarean"}, my concerns and fears are different from in my previous labors. However, I deal with fear through prayer, conversations with my husband, and journaling as well as reading birthing books {see above}. The comfort and peace I find in God and my spouse allay most all of these fears and reassure me that everything will be fine. Writing helps center me, and if there is a specific concern I have, educating myself often eases those fears.

(6) Gather supplies. Consider what you have and what you will need to purchase before baby arrives. Remember, babies can subsist on the bare minimum: A few outfits, some diapers, an infant car seat, and breast milk or formula are all you really have to have. 

Since this is our third child of the same gender, we have all we really need for her arrival other than newborn diapers and wipes. However, because our youngest is only 18 months old and still sleeps in her crib, I plan to buy a playard or pack & play for the new baby to sleep in. Plus, I'm just a little concerned for her safety during the day when her bigger sisters are awake :) 

Besides baby's supplies, think about what YOU will need. I like to have a well-stocked pantry and refrigerator with fresh fruits and vegetables. It's also handy to have personal hygiene supplies like lansinoh (if you're breastfeeding), breast pads, witch hazel, overnight pads, and pain medicine so that you don't have to make trips to the store once you arrive back home. 


(7) Do some cooking. I am very blessed to have my mom, who is an excellent cook, come and stay with us after the baby arrives, as well as great friends who chip in and bring meals over. But when the meals stop rolling in, it is really nice to have some already-prepared foods in the freezer. 

For the past few weeks, I have been doubling up on family favorite recipes and freezing the leftovers, so, hopefully, I won't have to do a lot of cooking or rely on take-out in the weeks following baby's arrival. Make meals to freeze that are comforting to you so when you need a little TLC after baby comes, you can pull out the mac & cheese you made a month earlier.

(8) Love on your children. You've probably heard the line, "A baby changes everything." That is especially true for children who may not be as thrilled as you are about the arrival of a new baby. Give your children an extra dose of love in the weeks leading up to your due date: hug and kiss on them, snuggle more, play together more, and let them know that no matter what, they are dearly loved. Before our youngest child arrived, I bought a special present for our older daughter so she would not feel left out. 


(9) Create your birth plan.  Essentially, a birth plan is a written statement detailing your vision of the labor and delivery experience. A birth plan not only states your preferences {use of a shower or tub, children allowed to be present, delay of clamping and cutting umbilical cord}, but also any procedures you wish to avoid {medications, use of pitocin, supine position for pushing, episiotomy}. As I learned with our second child, which I had via c-section, birth plans are not set in stone and will change depending on circumstances often out of your control. Childbirth is very unpredictable! The key is to be flexible. A birth plan is not a script to followed line by line. Don't be disappointed if things don't go exactly according to plan :)

Our first child's birth plan was three pages typed. Crazy, I know. With the second child, I toned it down a bit and settled on one full page. To date, I still haven't written up Baby Annabeth's birth plan, but that is my goal for tonight. 


(10) As much as you can, REST. Easier said than done, I know, especially if you have small children or are carrying multiples. The pressure of baby on your bladder may mean several late night trips to the bathroom. Plus, sleeping on your side may not be very comfortable. But try to nap or at least lie down when your kids are resting. Because my girls take early naps, I have instituted an afternoon quiet time so that Mommy can rest while they play quietly in their rooms. Find a way to take a load off and relax because you will want to be as rested as possible in preparation for labor and for those sleepless nights once baby arrives.

Yes, that's me sound asleep. Another great use for a Boppy.

Preparing for childbirth is a special time. Emotions run the gamut from excitement to fear and everything in between as you get ready to welcome a new life into your family. Use this time to prepare yourself--mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually--for the challenging work that lies ahead during labor and delivery and culminating in the arrival of your precious new baby. 


Blessings to you!
Keri

Other pregnancy-related links:

For comments or questions, contact me at: growinginhisglory@gmail.com

Find Growing in His Glory on Facebook.

I would love to see more of you!  If you are encouraged by what you read here and would like to have posts from Growing in His Glory delivered to your inbox daily, simply click here.  Or you can subscribe in a reader of your choice in the right sidebar.

 

This post is linked to:

3 comments:

  1. Very informative and it's a perfect guide for every new parents,I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you come back and visit again soon!

      Delete
  2. Hi Keri! Tonight is a great night for me to find your blog on Women Living Well. I am due to welcome our sweet baby boy #3 to our family on Tues. The timing of this post is perfect for me! Great tips! I am off to get a special scripture index card set to add to my hospital bag asap! I too have boys who are 18 months apart and they are the best of friends! Best wishes to you and yours as you welcome your sweet baby girl soon!

    ReplyDelete