It’s an often quoted saying that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes, but lots of pregnant women lose sight of this completely when the birth of their first baby approaches. Many hours are spent constructing elaborate birth plans which are as lengthy as War and Peace, and many a prospective mother has lovingly packed the whale songs CD or aromatherapy oils in her hospital bag with the Petit Bateau newborn outfits and the scratch mitts.
The Best Laid Plan
As Robert Burns said, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and however well you think you have prepared for the arrival of your baby, everything can change when you go into labour. You might be determined to have a peaceful water birth with only the odd whiff of gas to take the edge off the pain, but a long slow labour lasting 72 hours can make an epidural or caesarean seem very attractive. Talk though all of your options with your midwife but don’t rule anything in or out; take things as they come and if you don’t have very fixed ideas about what is going to happen, you won’t be disappointed if things change along the way.
As soon as you announce a pregnancy, it seems that friends and relatives queue up to tell you horror stories about traumatic labours and deliveries. There is also the competitive few who seem to breeze through labour as if it were no more painful than a nettle sting, and they heap scorn on anyone who needs pain relief. Having a baby is not a competition and there is no “best” way of doing it. What is best for you may not be best for your friends, so try to resist getting into lengthy debates about the rights and wrongs of epidurals or elective sections.
Even if you are keeping an open mind and taking things as they come, you will still have some preferences about your ideal birth. It is unlikely that the midwife delivering your baby will be the same person you have seen through your pregnancy, so jot down some notes about things which are important to you such as having your partner cut the cord after the birth, having your favourite CD played in the labour suite or having the lights kept low. Write the notes in bullet points as no midwife has the time to read through a 10 page birth plan, however well-written it is.
On The Day
When you do go into labour, call the Labour Suite and they will tell you when you need to come in. Try to relax through the early stages and keep yourself occupied. Check through your bag to make sure you have all the toiletries, Petit Bateau newborn clothes, pyjamas and magazines you’ll need for your stay in the hospital. Moving around and keeping active has been shown to speed up labour so do some gentle walking rather than sitting still and thinking about contractions.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Helen loves writing about baby topics and works for Baby Nest, a London baby retailer selling the new Uppababy Vista.