Karen Schroeder Kassel, MS, RD, MEd
Nine months may seem like a long time, but there are a lot of things to do to prepare for the big day and for life with your new little one. Use this time to talk with your doctor, plan for
childbirth, spruce up your nursery, and plan for life with your baby.
As your pregnancy progresses, new questions may arise. Before each prenatal check-up, make a list of questions and concerns you want to discuss with your doctor or nurse practitioner. Topics you may want to address include the following:
Be aware that an episiotomy should never be done without a medical indication. Routine episiotomy is now viewed as doing more harm than good. This is the position of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, so you should expect your provider to voice a similar position.
Birth classes teach you about pregnancy and help lower your anxiety about labor and delivery. A variety of topics are offered, from your baby’s development to prenatal yoga. Relaxation techniques for labor and delivery are popular topics. The 2 most common techniques in the US are the Lamaze technique and the Bradley method.
The Lamaze technique teaches women to find strength and comfort during childbirth. Classes focus on relaxation methods and controlled breathing patterns to help manage pain. They also teach distraction methods, such as focusing on a photo or having a massage from your partner. The Lamaze approach is neutral about pain medication. Women are encouraged to learn about all options and decide what is right for them.
The Bradley method is an all-natural approach to birth. It stresses the avoidance of medications unless absolutely necessary. This method also calls for an active role for the baby's other parent as birth coach. Good nutrition and exercise during pregnancy are encouraged. Relaxation and deep-breathing techniques are taught to cope with labor pain.
Many hospitals, birthing centers, and pediatricians’ offices offer open houses for you to meet the staff and tour their facilities. Take advantage of these services.
When you come home with your little bundle of joy, it’s helpful to have things set up. Think ahead to what you’ll need for yourself, the baby, and the rest of the family. When friends and family offer to help, take them up on it! When you’re only getting a few hours of sleep at a time, you’ll really appreciate a home-cooked meal or someone else to walk the dog. Here are some ideas to start preparing the home front:
Once your contractions become regular, you should be ready to jump in the car and get to the hospital. Check with the maternity ward to see what they’ll provide for you. Pack your bags and keep them by the door or in the car so you’ll be ready on a moment’s notice. Here are some things to think about:
When you are well prepared, you can go into the delivery room feeling confident. Keep in mind, though, that this is a natural process with natural ups and downs. Use your relaxation techniques and focus on the miracle of birth to help get you through the difficult parts.
Birthing centers and hospital maternity services. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/birth-centers-hospitals.html. Updated October 2014. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Packing for the hospital or birth center. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/planning/packing-list. Updated September 2, 2016. Accessed January 30, 2017.
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada
Women's Health Matters
Last reviewed January 2017 by Andrea Chisholm, MD
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