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Try a few of our YOU Tips to help you enjoy this great time of your life.
That sure came quick, didn’t it? It seems like just a few days ago, you were talking about how to stop your head from pounding from all of the stress in your life, and now you’re ready for the big transition: When your baby travels from the warm, comfy quarters of what might as well be the equivalent of goose down amniotic fluid to life on the outside.
Now’s also when reality hits you with sledgehammer-like force: How. . . Is This Baby . . . Going To . . .Get OUT . . .Of Me?
Preparing for Labor
Time to get in touch with your inner Elastigirl: The incredible adventure of labor and birth is about to begin. We want you to be prepared but also to not get upset if it doesn’t go exactly as you’ve planned. The more prepared you are the easier it will be for you and your baby. And by getting prepared we mean with exercise, good nutrition, prenatal vitamins with DHA (to be continued till you’ll no longer ever consider being pregnant—yes till age 50 or so), knowledge, and a supportive partner or coach who knows his or her role.
Naturally, your mind swirls with questions: How long will you be in labor? Can you manage the pain? Will your hubby have properly charged the camera battery?
As you prepare to leap into the unknown, we want to give you a few pep-talk pointers to help guide you through the process. If you take only 2 pieces of advice along with you as you go into labor, let them be these. Firstly, stay flexible and remember that labor can be unpredictable. And secondly, keep in mind that the ultimate goal is a healthy mom and a healthy baby. There’s no extra credit for doing it according to a preconceived plan if there turns out to be a better approach along the way.
Better Birthing by Design
There are a handful of things you can control during labor and delivery—such as who accompanies you, how you are monitored, whether you move around, and your choice of pain management. The rest you need to leave up to your doctor or midwife. It’s not about telling your care provider what to do but about finding one who has similar beliefs, goals and strategies as you, and well before the first contraction begins. That means start with a good relationship during prenatal care. Remember, you originally chose this person because he or she shares your goals regarding childbirth; now you have to trust that he or she will get the job done right.
When it comes to labor and delivery, be an active participant in the healthcare team that will make your labor go as smoothly and safely as possible, whether you decide to do a traditional hospital delivery or choose an alternative method, like a home birth. If you stay reasonably calm and pay attention to the fundamentals, chances are heavily in your favor that
everything will work out just fine.
In our book, YOU Having a Baby, we have a game to help you understand the process of labor and delivery—and the goal of the game as well as labor and delivery is for you to enjoy it. There are so many ifs and buts in the delivery process, we figured it would be best to approach this information a little bit differently.
So we’re going to help you envision the various pathways you might take to reach your ultimate goal: Holding your newborn baby. Think of it as the first of many, many, many, many board games you’re going to be playing over the next decade. For this game of life isn’t a trivial pursuit, and it’s surely one that can boggle your mind—especially if you don’t have a clue about how the whole operation works. But believe us, you don’t have the monopoly on anxiety; every mom feels like she’s manning her own biological battleship and worries about the risk and trouble that might lie ahead.
1. Be Flexible
It’s okay to come up with a birthing plan about how you envision birthing will proceed. But since labor and delivery are unpredictable, there are actually only a few things you have any degree of control over. And, according to Murphy’s Law, the more you plan, the more unpredictable your labor will be.
Rather than drawing up a detailed birth plan, we believe it’s much better to prepare for all the options, understand how the process works, and talk to the key players on your delivery team. If you’ve picked a team that has the same philosophy as you, you’ll be comfortable no matter what twists and turns occur.
2. Speed the Process
If you’re experiencing a high level of discomfort but the baby has decided that she wants to camp out in your belly for a while longer, you can try to move things along. While there are not super-strong data, it does appear that breast stimulation brings on labor for some women. Other options that could help: Downing some castor oil, rubbing evening primrose oil on your belly, or just plain and simple walking. Sex, by the way, has not been shown to jumpstart labor but there’s no harm in trying.
3. Create the Ideal Atmosphere
Just because you’re only going to be staying in the hospital for a couple of days doesn’t mean that you can’t give your room a personal touch. With just a few items you can create an environment that will help relax you. Bring your favorite music to play, your favorite blanket, a comfy pillow, and photos of a beloved pet, family member, or another child (these will come in handy when you’re asked to pick a focal point during the tough spots of delivery and when your other children visit.)
Don’t be shy about changing the mood of the room by adjusting the temperature, dimming the lights, or even using scented oils, creams or lotions.
4. Take a Tour
Ask the hospital for a tour of the facilities a few weeks beforehand. This will give you the opportunity to check everything out, ask questions, and inquire about the availability of birthing balls or tubs. Plus, just seeing the place where you’ll deliver will help ease your mind—after all, part of the fear of the process is the fear of the unknown.
Pack Your Bags for the Hospital
Items for Labor:
Two tennis balls (for your partner to massage your lower back)
Aromatherapy if permitted by hospital. For essential oils without anything else see shopascents.com
Camera, fully charged
Music (if allowed)
Items for Hospital Stay:
Cell phone and charger
Laptop for sending instant birth announcement/photos or Skyping/ichatting with faraway friends and relatives (check hospital’s internet policy first)
Phone numbers for health insurance company and pediatrician (both should be informed right away about birth)
Nail file for baby
Change of clothes (still maternity, we’re afraid)
Items for Departure:
Going-home outfit for baby
Dr. Roizen is a professor of internal medicine and of anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer, and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Oz is a professor and vice chairman of surgery, as well as director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrated Medical Center, at New York’s Presbyterian-Columbia University. Their latest best seller is YOU: Having a Baby, the Owner’s Manual to a Healthy & Happy Pregnancy.