Getting ready to have a baby is an exciting time, but the prospect of giving birth leaves many expectant mothers feeling anxious. First-time mothers may be frightened about what labor will be like. Experienced moms may be worried about reliving any complications they experienced the last time.
Nearly four million women give birth in the United States each year. The vast majority of labors go smoothly and end with a healthy delivery. However, complications can and do sometimes happen. Approximately 50,000 women annually experience serious complications. In addition, of every 1,000 live births, 6 to 8 newborns will be born with an injury. (Click the link to learn more about the different types of birth injury.)
Birth is a natural, normal part of life, and in most cases, your body will adapt to it. If you’re concerned that you’ll experience complications during birth, preparing your body for labor can increase the chances your labor will go smoothly. Take the following steps for the best chance of having a positive birth experience.
Get a Doctor or Midwife You Trust
If you feel intimidated by the thought of asking your doctor or midwife questions, it’s time to find a new care provider. If you are afraid to talk to them now, imagine how much more uncomfortable you will be communicating with them while you are in labor, when it is the most important. Find a birth professional who you are comfortable with if you want to make sure your needs are met during birth.
Enjoy a Healthy Diet
You may be craving fatty, sweet, or salty carbs, but indulging in your every unhealthy craving is not the way to go when you’re approaching labor. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of leafy, green vegetables and lean protein can help you minimize your risk of complications. You may also want to consider seriously reducing the amount of sugar you eat. On top of taking your prenatal vitamins daily, choose mineral-rich foods.
Stay Fit and Active
There are many benefits to starting or maintaining a fitness routine during pregnancy if your doctor says it’s allowed. Some of these include:
- Boosting your mood
- Boosting your metabolism
- Preventing you from gaining too much weight
- Helping you get plenty of sleep
Most pregnant women are able to continue moderate activity throughout the duration of their pregnancy. You may want to try prenatal yoga, going for a daily walk, or swimming, which can take the pressure off of your back.
Attend Prenatal Classes
One of the biggest benefits of taking prenatal classes is it can boost your confidence about your ability to handle the birth process. During these classes, you and your birth partner will be educated about your pain relief options and what you can expect during the process. These classes can be a fun way to bond while learning how to work as a team.
There are many different types of childbirth education classes to choose from. If you find that one isn’t right for you, you can always try another.
Make a Birth Plan
When it comes to birth, it simply isn’t possible to plan how everything is going to go. That doesn’t mean making a birth plan isn’t a great idea. Even if circumstances are beyond your control, having a plan in place for various situations can make you more confident. It can also help you to address situations you hadn’t considered and details like who will cut the cord and when you want to consider an epidural.
Keep Moving During Labor
Once you’re in labor, avoid lying down as much as possible. In this case, gravity is your friend. Walk, use a birth ball, take a shower, or do anything else that will keep you active. This can make your labor progress faster.