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Preparing for normal delivery in pregnancy

Maitri Woman

Team Maitri

Dec 10, 2021

The ability to bring a new life to this world is probably the best gift of nature to women. However, the process of normal delivery is frequently perceived as a dreaded and excruciatingly painful experience. The fear of labor pains is also worsened by a lack of understanding and being unprepared for the process of labor. So, as they say, the best way to overcome your fears is to face them head-on and take action to overcome those fears and apprehensions. And the first step towards that goal is to make sure that you understand the process and are well prepared for the D-day when it arrives.

However, being nervous and anxious about the delivery day is understandable. So here are some pointers to help you ladies have a smooth sailing delivery

1. Discuss with your Gynecologist

This is the most important aspect of preparing yourself for labor & normal delivery through vaginal route. Usually, the antenatal visit at 28-32 weeks is the best time to discuss what to expect during labor and vaginal delivery. Make sure you discuss what are the warning signs of labor, where to reach & whom to contact in case of an emergency. Usually, in a first pregnancy, labor may last 18-24 hours and for subsequent pregnancies, it may be 8-10 hours, sometimes even as short as 4-6 hours. Do not hesitate to ask the questions that come to your mind regarding the process of childbirth and aim to improve your understanding of the process by reading and discussing with your doctor.

2. Join an Antenatal class

Antenatal classes are training classes that help you cope with pregnancy & childbirth. There are multiple options available and you can choose whichever schedule suits you the best. These classes have a wide array of sessions including educational sessions for the changes in pregnancy, how to deal with these changes and how to prepare for labor/delivery & the period after delivery. As these are usually informal sessions with relevant experts, it is easier for you to communicate with them & get your doubts cleared in a relaxed, tension-free ambience. Besides, they teach you many exercises and lifestyle modifications to help you through the whole journey of pregnancy & motherhood. Antenatal classes are one of the most useful steps that you can take to allay your anxiety & fears about pregnancy & childbirth.

3. Prepare your birth plan

Planning ahead of time gives your body and mind time to prepare for labor and delivery. It will also save you from a last-minute panic attack in case of an emergency. It is not possible to plan for everything, however, you can definitely take measures that will help you have an easier & a more pleasant experience at the hospital.

Preparing your birth plan will help you feel in control of your situation in the labor room. A birth plan involves a summary of your preferences for labor and delivery. It includes details regarding:

  • Whether you wish to wait for spontaneous onset of labor pains or are willing for induction of labor if the pains do not start by the due date.
  • Whether or not you want to have pain relief medications during labor and what kind of pain relief methods would you wish to opt for – natural methods (like massage/ walking/positional changes etc) or injectable painkillers. You might also wish to specify your preference regarding the Epidural analgesia and whether you want to opt for it for pain relief during labor.
  • The type of position you want to give birth in whether lying down flat or sideways on the bed or squatting or in a water bath.
  • You may list down your companions and people whom you wish to be with you in the delivery room..
  • You can list whether or not you wish to nurse the baby immediately after birth.
  • You can list down any procedures that you wish to avoid while in labor- these might include the application of forceps/ vacuum or artificial rupture & sweeping of membranes. However, remember that regardless of the preference listed in birth plan, sometimes it may be necessary to perform these procedures for your & the baby’s wellbeing and in such cases, you should trust the judgement of your doctor.
  • You can also list down any special requests that you may have regarding your religious & cultural practices during childbirth. Make sure you check in advance with your hospital whether these requests can be accommodated without compromising yours or the baby’s safety.

4. Prepare your body

Giving birth to a baby indeed takes a toll on the body. Therefore, it is necessary that we make an effort to strengthen our bodies during pregnancy. Please do not sit idle and rest throughout your pregnancy, unless advised by your doctor. Being sedentary & inactive does more harm than good! Engage yourself in moderate exercise everyday.

Exercise has many benefits:

  • It strengthens your muscles, improves posture.
  • Exercise helps improve blood circulation to all body parts including the uterus & your baby.
  • It helps you to deal more effectively with the changes of pregnancy & to cope with the increasing weight & size of the uterus and baby.
  • It prevents excess weight gain during pregnancy.
  • Exercise releases Endorphins, which are the ‘Happy hormones’ that help you deal with the mood swings of pregnancy.
  • It improves digestion & helps deal with heartburn & constipation during pregnancy.

You can discuss with your doctor and follow a daily exercise routine which may include a variety of different options:

  • Walking for half an hour morning & evening is the simplest form of exercise which can be practiced by even the most inexperienced people.
  • Swimming, Yoga, Pilates, stretching exercises etc are safe in pregnancy & can be very helpful in building muscle strength.
  • Kegel’s & pelvic floor exercises help prepare your pelvic muscles & tissues for the process of labor & vaginal birth.
  • Breathing exercises help improve oxygenation & also help you deal with labor pains effectively.

5. Diet in pregnancy

Apart from exercise, your diet also plays an essential role in helping you have a normal delivery. Keep a check on your weight during pregnancy. A normal delivery can be hampered by excessive weight gain.

Focus on consuming a healthy,balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and with the required amounts of carbohydrates & fats. You can enroll in an antenatal class or consult a dietician for a detailed advice regarding diet in pregnancy. Avoid smoking, alcohol, excess caffeine, unpasteurized milk, raw or partially cooked eggs/ meats. Make sure your food items are washed & cooked properly.

6. Prepare you mind

Ladies, please do not ignore your mental wellbeing during pregnancy. In addition to taking care of your baby's needs and your body, you also need to listen to your mind. Pregnancy can bring out a wide range of emotions in expecting mothers. You may experience mood swings, bouts of depression/ anxiety, difficulty in sleeping and headaches as a result of emotional stress. It can also have an impact on the baby's development. Try to identify what triggers anxiety and stress in you and avoid those factors. Practice meditation and relaxation exercises to help calm your mind. Listen to soothing music & read good books which inspire you & improve your sense of wellbeing.

Pay no heed to horror stories about labor. No two births are the same. Every woman goes through a unique birth experience. So do not overthink after hearing about someone else’s birth story. Talk to friends and family and encourage them to share positive birth narratives. Do not feel overwhelmed with all the tips and tricks shared by everyone around you. It is ok to say no to anything that causes you stress. Talk to your partner if you are feeling low. Tell them how you feel and ask for help whenever needed. This way, you won’t feel alone in this journey.

7. Learn various ways to manage labor pain

The joy and excitement of meeting your baby after nurturing it inside your womb for nine months is unparalleled & incomparable to any other happiness in this world. But the thought of experiencing labor pains is definitely terrifying to all of us. The contractions your body produces to force the baby out will be painful but this pain can be managed by several effective techniques. So, let us guide you through some helpful tips to reduce this discomfort:

  • Move around during labor. Choose a space that is comforting as well as spacious.
  • Having your partner or loved ones around you during labor can be a big source of support. In addition, it will help in reducing your stress and anxiety. So, choose your team wisely.
  • Practice various breathing techniques during your contractions. It will help in releasing your tension.
  • Always remember this: THE PAIN IS NOT GOING TO LAST FOREVER. The labor pains last for a few seconds and then the uterus is relaxed for a few. minutes, you perceive very minimal discomfort during this period of relaxation and this period can be used to rejuvenate your strength for the next contraction. Knowing this will help you deal with your pain better.
  • Using cold and warm compress can give some comfort.
  • Try using a light oil to massage your lower back & thighs. This can lead to the release of endorphins, a natural painkiller and mood-lifting chemical produced in the brain.
Fun Facts

Fun Fact

Ladies, if you think enduring pregnancy for nine months is a painful task, then here is a fun fact for you. The longest recorded pregnancy in history is that of 12 months! Childbirth can definitely be daunting, but the end result is worth it.

Maitri Woman

Team Maitri

Dec 10, 2021

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