If you’re about to become a new mom or expecting a new little one to add to your cozy clan, you’re probably busy making preparations such as getting all the necessary baby gear and getting your home ready for those first few months.
However, as a new mom, you may miss the opportunity to prepare for one element that many expectant mothers forget to plan for: labor and birth. Planning for pain is one of the best ways to ensure that you'll stay calm and be able to deal with it when the time comes, so by simply preparing yourself with some strategies now, you may help make an uncomfortable experience less difficult when the time comes.
Researching labor pain management options offered by your OB provider, taking prenatal classes to gather information and meeting with doulas are great places to start. Below are some other strategies you may want to consider before your big day.
Explore Your Preconceptions and Fears about Labor
When you think about a woman in labor, what movie plays in your mind?
- Do you see a women screaming and begging for an epidural?
- Do you see a woman holding her baby for the first time, exhausted but so proud and completely in love?
Our idea of birth is influenced by our own life experiences as well as the stories we hear from mothers, sisters, friends and the media. Take the time to explore your fears about labor and birth with your OB provider before labor starts.
Understand That Pain in Labor is “Pain with a Purpose”
For nine months you’ve endured aches and pains as your body changed to accommodate your growing baby. Whether a woman breezes through pregnancy with few issues or struggles with daily pain, every woman accepts these as one part of her journey to motherhood.
Similarly, each woman’s labor is unique and a necessary step toward meeting her baby. Understanding pain in labor is time-limited “pain with a purpose” is important to keep in mind, and reminding yourself that a great reward is waiting for you at the end can help lessen any fears you may have around the pain of labor.
Be Flexible and Listen to Your Body
No matter how well you prepare yourself, your labor journey will be full of unexpected twists and turns. You may be in early labor for two days or you may progress so quickly that when you arrive at the hospital you are fully dilated.
Certain positions will feel better than others and those massages that felt so soothing during early labor may be the last thing you want when you enter the active phase of labor. Use your prenatal visits to develop trust and a relationship with your OB provider so they can better guide you along your labor path.
Editors note: This article was originally published on Nov. 11, 2014 and has been updated.