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Are you pregnant and want to know how to mentally prepare for labor and delivery? It’s no surprise, that childbirth is a huge mental game. If you’re not mentally prepared, it can feel much harder than needed. So, in today’s article, we will cover all of the best ways pregnant women can mentally prepare for labor (whether it’s a natural or medicated birth).
Trust me, I have had two children and I understand the fear that comes with birthing a new baby.
I first time you give birth, will likely be the most nerve-wracking. That’s because you never fully know what to expect when the big day arrives.
But the good news is, that fear doesn’t need to make your entire experience from pregnancy to childbirth so scary. In fact, you can turn that fear around by getting your head in the game with some good ol’ preparation.
If your childbirth fears are causing you anxiety, depression, or really making it hard for you to get through the day, please notify your healthcare provider or midwife right away.
10 Ways to Mentally Prepare for Labor and Delivery
Regardless of what type of birth experience you envision, it’s always a good idea to prepare, especially for first-time moms. Below, are 10 of the best ways ANY mom can mentally prepare herself for a positive birth experience.
1) Take a Birthing Class That Aligns With Your Preferences
Everyone and their mom will recommend you take a birth class, but what nobody tells you, is to do some research to be sure it aligns with your values and preferences.
For instance, if you wish to have an unmedicated birth, you’ll want to find a birth class that is focused on more holistic and natural ways vs using medications and/or an epidural.
Below, I put together a list of my favorite childbirth classes for different reasons. One thing they ALL have in common is that you can watch and learn from the comfort of your own home!
Birth It Up! The Epidural Series
If you are planning to have a hospital birth and possibly get an epidural, I cannot recommend the Birth It Up! Epidural Series enough! This childbirth course is led and taught by an experienced labor and delivery nurse. It not only prepared you for what to expect when getting an epidural for pain relief from start to finish, but also covers general birth preparation, pain relief in the event you don’t get an epidural, video lessons, printable pages, and so much more! This course is one of the best investments ANY mom can make when trying to mentally prepare for labor and delivery. It’s the labor course I used and found most helpful in preparing for my 2nd labor.
p.s. if you’re on the fence about trying a Birth It Up! Course, sign up for the 3 Secrets to a Better Birth. This will give you a little sneak peek look at their style of teaching to see if it could be a good fit for you! Oh yeah, and it’s FREE, so snag a spot right here.
The VBAC Lab Birth Course
The VBAC Lab Birth Course is great for moms wanting to have a vaginal birth after cesarean. The course is taught by a high-risk labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of hands-on experience. Not only does this course focus on educating mothers on all the preparation to have a successful VBAC, but it also empowers them to feel confident throughout the entire birthing process — no matter the outcome. If having a VBAC is on your wishlist, this VBAC birth course is for you.
This prenatal course was actually created for couples, to help both the birthing parent AND her partner feel confident and ready for anything childbirth throws their way. It’s taught by a labor and delivery nurse who has 20+ years of helping deliver babies, so it’s safe to say this course is PACKED with information. Plus, she addresses tips to help birth families regardless of whether they’re having a hospital birth, home birth, or using a birth center. This birth course also has 3 affordable options to choose from, so if budget is your concern, I’d definitely consider this one!
Birth It Up! The C-Section Series
That’s right, if you’ll be having a planned cesarean or highly anticipated cesarean, the c-section series birth course can help you with feeling prepared and at peace with your labor experience. The ultimate goal is to help you, mom-to-be, adopt a positive mindset surrounding your birth, learn what to expect throughout the process, and way more!
2) Read Positive Birth Stories
The thing when it comes to the birth of your baby is that ANYTHING is possible. You could end up giving birth unmedicated, with an epidural, having a c-section, etc… so reading positive birth stories of all kinds can help you get into good head space.
If it’s your first birth, chances are you might be feeling a little scared of delivering your baby. Watching and reading about how other moms delivered their babies can leave you feeling much more confident and empowered, which is what every mom truly needs.
3) Practice Relaxation Techniques
When you take a birth course (like the ones suggested above), you will learn many relaxation techniques to help you stay calm, positive, and grounded throughout the labor and delivery process.
So, how can relaxation techniques help you remain in a great place (mentally) during birth?
- They can greatly help you minimize pains or discomfort
- Can help you feel in control
- It will help your body remain calm, which allows your labor to naturally progress through the stages of labor
- They’re a great way to feel connected with your body and baby
4) Keep Your Mental State Positive
Keeping your mind in a positive mental state, especially if you won’t be utilizing any pain medication or an epidural is crucial to being able to stay the course of childbirth.
In order to prioritize a positive mental state, imagine the environment you want your birth to encompass:
- do you want calm music playing?
- would you like to give birth in a tub or shower?
- do you want a diffuser with your favorite essential oils diffusing?
- should the lights be dimmed?
As you can see, you want to really paint a clear picture of the things that can help you remain calm and focused during labor and delivery. Once you have an idea of what can help, jot them down in your birth plan!
5) Surround Yourself with Social Support
Aside from a health care provider that supports your birth plan, you’ll want to surround yourself with supportive friends and family too.
The last thing you will need is someone crossing your boundaries and negatively talking about your childbirth experience. Instead, make a list of support people you know you can confide in who will lift you up and listen without trying to dim your light.
6) Release Yourself from the Birth Process Expectations
Oftentimes, moms spend SO much time planning for a perfect childbirth experience, especially, when it’s their first baby.
So, my best advice is to not focus on a perfect birth experience. Release yourself from those expectations and embrace the possibilities of change.
Have your birth choices laid out in your birth plan so that you can adapt and adjust calmly in the event things don’t go according to your original plan (which is pretty common).
7) Learn Different Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques for childbirth go far beyond just taking “deep breaths”. The idea is that controlled, patterned breathing can help moms with pain management, promote oxygen flow, and keep the muscles relaxed and calm.
Here are a few breathing techniques commonly used:
- Lamaze: this breathing technique focuses on slow, controlled, deep breathing through contractions and labor progression.
- Belly breathing: belly breathing is a technique that focuses on controlled belly expansion on inhale and drawing the belly in on exhale.
- Pant-pant-blow breathing: this breathing technique focuses on breathing with your contractions. During the start of each contraction, take a deep breath in through your nose, then you do two short exhales followed by one long exhale.
Oftentimes, breathing techniques are almost always talked about during a childbirth class. So If you’re not enrolled in one, make sure to sign up for a class now before it’s too late.
8) Involve Your Birth Partner In The Prep Work
An excellent way to mentally prepare for labor and delivery is to involve your partner in the preparation! This means, asking them to attend your breathing classes, watch the birth class, and more.
There might be some times when you lose your train of thought or are struggling to stay positive, which is where your partner comes in helpful. They can share some positive birth affirmations with you, utilize counterpressure techniques during labor, and even communicate your wishes to your medical team on your behalf.
Knowing you have a partner who is so well-versed in supporting you during childbirth should be a huge sigh of relief.
9) Write Out a Birth Plan That Isn’t Too Rigid
The birth plan. Yep, it’s important to have one so that your care team can be on the same page, but it’s just as important to write a birth plan that isn’t too rigid.
You don’t want your birth plan to be so focused on one idea that it completely blindsided you if and when things don’t go according to plan.
Not only does having a flexible birth plan help you during childbirth, but it can also help to minimize some stress in the postpartum period.
Need a birth plan template? Snag this one, completely free!
10) Try Reading Positive Birth Affirmations
Last but not least, bump up the little things, like some childbirth positivity via birth affirmations!
Affirmations are an awesome way for pregnant people to feel confident, empowered, and in control of their childbirth experience.
If you’re not wanting to buy your own affirmation cards, you can make your own to bring to your labor and delivery room (I show you how in this article).
The best decision I made with my 2nd pregnancy was really focusing on the different ways to mentally prepare for labor and delivery. If the prospect of labor terrifies you as it once did me, I encourage you to try some of the tips above.