Pregnancy can be an exciting yet overwhelming moment in one’s life, especially if you’re a first-time mom. While it may feel like pregnancy can go on forever, you will be surprised to know that your baby will be arriving sooner rather than later. What you can do in the meantime is to prepare as best as you can for motherhood and, more specifically, for your nearing due date.
What should you do to keep your baby in the best health? What should you expect during childbirth? Here are some important things to note to help prep you for the big day.
Getting prenatal care
The best way to prepare for childbirth is ensuring a healthy pregnancy, and this can be achieved through regular prenatal consultations. Getting prenatal care as early in the pregnancy as possible greatly improves the chances of having a healthy pregnancy.
During prenatal visits, you will undergo a series of blood tests, ultrasound exams, and assessments, depending on the stage of pregnancy you’re on. While most of these tests are routine examinations, you may also be required to undergo particular tests if your pregnancy is at high risk for certain complications.
For instance, a nonstress test or fetal heart rate monitoring can be done to check on the baby’s health. During this noninvasive test, your belly will be strapped with two belts: one, a toco transducer that records uterine contractions, and another, which records the baby’s heart rate. This procedure checks if the baby’s heart rate increases during activity.
Learning about the Birth Process
Giving birth can be a daunting thing to process, especially if you have little to no clue as to what to expect. One of the best ways to better prepare yourself for childbirth and to help you become an active participant in your oncoming delivery is to learn more about the birthing process ahead of time. Enrolling in a birth class will teach you a myriad of things that you can expect on your due date, such as the stages of labor, effective breathing techniques, pain-management options, and many more.
You can also watch videos of actual deliveries online and learn about the different ways that you can give birth aside from the natural method, such as a water birth, C-section delivery, birth with an epidural, and many more. Doing your research ahead of time will help you in creating a birth plan with your health-care provider.
However, do keep in mind that having a birth plan does not mean your childbirth experience may go exactly as planned, as every pregnancy is different.
Getting Ready for Labor
Don’t wait until the first contractions hit before knowing whom to call and when to leave for the hospital. Your health-care provider should be able to orient you on the early signs of labor so you can best assess when it’s ready to go.
Early signs of labor include a feeling that the baby “drops,” Braxton Hicks contractions, and a “bloody show.” However, you’ll know when labor is imminent when the contractions start to increase in intensity and frequency or when your water breaks. During true labor, women also feel the pain toward the back moving to the front.
As your due date draws near, your doctor or midwife may give you specific guidelines on when to go to the hospital. But if you’re unsure whether the time has come, don’t hesitate to give your health-care provider a call, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy.
Packing a Hospital Bag
It may be inevitable to forget to pack a bag for the hospital in between preparing your baby’s nursery and shopping for newborn clothes. Don’t wait until a labor contraction begins to start preparing your hospital bag. Chances are that it’s easier to forget to bring the most important things when you’re in a hurry. (And in pain!)
Ideally, preparing for your hospital bag several weeks before the big day makes sense. You’ll never know when your baby decides to make an appearance!
Some of the most basic and most essential things to pack are your birth plan and other important documents, a nightgown or any other clothing you feel comfortable in, toiletries, snacks, and any particular thing that makes you feel good. Of course, don’t forget a going-home outfit for you and your baby.
Make sure your little one is snug and warm by bringing a sweater or jacket, a hat, and receiving blankets. Your baby may be born in the summer, yet they still may feel cold being outside the womb for the first time.
Always Be Ready
Nobody said preparing for an upcoming baby was easy, yet it is easily manageable when you keep a clear head and learn what you’ve got to learn. Here’s an advice: Don’t worry too much! After all, motherhood is full of surprises—but none that you won’t come to love!
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