Most pregnant women wish for nothing more or less than an easy, stress-free birth — but birth is anything but relaxed and low-key. A woman’s body goes through changes for the full nine months before labour and delivery, and then when the birth finally happens, the body changes again, rapidly and painfully.
Still, some women’s birthing experience is much more pleasant than others, and that’s largely due to those women’s attitudes before, during and after their labour. If you want your birth experience to be laid-back, you don’t need to worry so much about what kind of drugs you’ll take or what songs will be on your labour playlist; instead, you should follow these tips and tricks:
Don’t Listen to Anyone’s Awful Birth Stories
For some reason, people who are not currently pregnant love telling pregnant women stories about horrifying pregnancies and births. Strangers and loved ones alike will lean in close and regale you with, “You know, I knew a woman who…” These tales are distressing, without exception; they talk about horrible circumstances that women didn’t prepare for, and while sometimes they end with “Mother and baby are doing well now,” sometimes there is a much less comforting conclusion.
While your instinct might be to listen politely to these stories and soak up whatever meager wisdom they contain, you are much better off interrupting anyone and everyone with a polite, “I’d rather not hear it.” The truth is, the likelihood is low that you or your baby will endure anything out of the ordinary, and even passively absorbing these dreadful tales will only serve to slowly and steadily increase your stress. You should do your own research, guided by your doctor, if you feel the need to know what to prepare for and how to prepare.
Be Flexible with Changes to Your Birth Plan
The natural birth movement is a vast and influential one, but it is important to remember that not everyone can survive a drug-free, home birth. It is easy to be inspired by the women online who breathe through labour pains like they’re nothing; it is much more difficult to breathe through labour pains yourself. You better believe that no birth is pain- or stress-free, but there are births that are safer and more comfortable for you and baby.
You should feel free to make plans for your birth — plans like where you’ll go through labour, where you’ll give birth, what drugs you’ll use and more — but you shouldn’t set your mind and heart too firmly on them. Problems arise swiftly during birth, and if you can’t make a quick pivot into a safer birth strategy, you could endanger the lives of you and your baby. You should talk to everyone involved in your pregnancy, from your partner to your doctor to your doula, to make a few contingencies for the birth.
Get Ready for Your First Day Home
Ultimately, birth lasts only a few hours, but having a baby lasts for a few years. Instead of fretting about labour and delivery, you should be focusing on reducing your workload after your baby makes their first appearance. You will be exhausted on your first day home from the hospital, and that exhaustion will continue until your baby sleeps through the night. Here are a few ways you can make your new life as a mom slightly easier:
- Prep at least a week of meals. Unless you want to eat fast food for the foreseeable future, you should cook and freeze or refrigerate at least a week of breakfasts, lunches and dinners for you and your partner. Alternatively, you can ask loved ones to make meals and deliver them.
- Book your baby photographer. If you don’t have a photographer booked before you give birth, you’ll never get professional newborn pictures. While you’re at it, you should find the baby stationery you like and save it, so you can send out birth announcements ASAP.
- Assemble and try out your new tools. Your breast pump, car seat, stroller, Diaper Genie, bathtub and any other equipment you plan to use for newborn care should be fully assembled, and you should practice using them so you’ll be a pro by the time your baby needs them.
You don’t need to prove to anyone that you are “chill” — as long as you love your baby and do everything to keep them healthy, it doesn’t matter how you behave as a pregnant woman or a mother. Unfortunately, your birth won’t be easy and breezy; that’s a guarantee. However, you can change how you approach it by controlling the information you receive and reducing your work as much as possible. Then you can relax, breathe and remember your labour and delivery as a positive experience.