There are so many unknowns in pregnancy. Even if it’s not your first, pregnancies, labours, and recoveries can be different for every baby. Great, right? Add on top of that all the “advice” you get—online, in person, welcome or unwelcome—and you have a perfect anxiety storm. Labour and delivery can be one of the biggest sources of this anxiety. Here are five ways to help ease some of that labour and delivery anxiety and get you through as calmly as possible.
This can’t be underestimated. If you don’t like or trust your OB or midwife, you are going to feel very apprehensive about labour. Before you get to the point of no return, find a provider you feel very comfortable with. And, if you’re able, find a great doula. She can bridge the gap between you and the hospital staff and is another familiar face in the delivery room.
Take a childbirth education class and read their suggested reading list. A lot of anxiety comes from the unknown. Learning about what happens to your body and your baby during labour will go a long way in helping you feel more confident when the big day comes. Don’t miss out on the reading either! Do your homework on different pain management techniques, breastfeeding, and newborns to get some peace of mind.
Tour your chosen hospital or birthing center, be sure to ask lot of questions. Again, unknowns equal apprehension. Cut down on the unknowns by seeing a birthing suite, talking to some nurses, and learning the lay of the land. Ask lots of questions about what will be provided, what to expect, what are standard hospital procedures, and more. Write them all down ahead of time so you don’t forget anything!
Clear negative people out of your life. Time for a Facebook purge! Seriously, even if they aren’t posting about labour or babies at all (and most of them aren’t) there can be a lot of negativity floating out there. So, at least temporarily, remove those folks from your newsfeed. This goes for negative people in your life—you know those ones—put them in time-out until you have the brain space for them. Sometimes people who are even well-meaning can give you a lot of self-doubt about labour and your ability to be a mom. You definitely don’t need them around until after the baby comes, or maybe not at all!
Meditate, practice yoga, and/or do some other form of exercise regularly. Clear your head. Any of these options have been shown in numerous studies to reduce stress and anxiety, help you sleep better, and even feel more confident and collected. Even ten minutes of meditation or deep breathing has benefits, so make the time.
BONUS TIP: Pack your bag with your favorite things from home. If you have your bag packed, you’ll feel more ready and less worried about forgetting something important. Bring your favorite nightgown, lotion, pillow, and an iPod packed with your favorite music. You’ll feel ready for anything if you have all your favorites. And don’t forget your 3-in-1 gown from Dressed To Deliver!