For many expectant mothers, labor is a big and scary looming event. At the same time, you are excited to finally meet the little person growing inside you. There are some things that can make your birth experience easier.
How to Prepare:
Go to a birth class. Go to a good birth class that meets over the course of several weeks and covers breastfeeding initiation and coping techniques. Yes, they take more time. Yes, they sometimes cost more money. But you will know a lot more about your own labor and the various tools midwives, doctors and doulas use to help your baby come into the world.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: hire a doula. Even if you plan to get an epidural, even if you end up with a scheduled c-section. Doulas do more than just help you cope with a natural labor—they can suggest positions that speed up progress with an epidural. They can help you have a gentle c-section, and walk you through the process as it occurs. And they can help you establish breastfeeding, which can sometimes be a challenging experience without lactation support.
If you plan on having a natural and intervention-free birth, then you really need a doula. A doula can help you through each phase of labor with a wide range of knowledge about coping techniques, optimal baby positioning and pain management tools.
Packing your bag:
We packed wayyyyy too much for our son’s birth. Here’s a list of what I felt we should have packed:
Your own clothes.
A list of restaurants that deliver. Trust me on this one.
Something to relax/pass the time.
The basics: cash, your camera, toiletries, a going home outfit for you.
Phone numbers for your lactation consultant and your placenta encapsulation specialist, if you choose to encapsulate.
Stuff for the baby: A few onesies and some non-toxic baby shampoo.
What the hospital provides:
Really, you don’t have to bring anything. Most hospitals have gowns, mesh undies, baby clothes, diapers, toiletry products and baby care products. When you leave, I highly advise you to grab, um, a few free samples on your way out. Extra mesh undies, extra gigantor pads for postpartum lochia, and most importantly, AT LEAST TWO BULB SYRINGES. The bulb syringes from the hospital are far better at sucking out snot than any bulb syringe you will find in the store. Your insurance is going to pay for that stuff anyways, might as well milk as much as you can out of it.