You’ve decided to have a baby and you’re ready for the adventure that lies ahead. But you’re also probably feeling a little overwhelmed.
Don’t worry, this is a normal part of the process—it’s natural to feel confused and anxious about what lies ahead, especially when you’re going to be a mother for the first time.
In this blog, we’ll help you in making sense of the changes happening in your body during pregnancy, as well as provide some tips on how to prepare for labor and delivery. We’ll touch on nutrition, exercise, birth plans, postpartum recovery, and more.
So, let’s jump right in!
What are the Stages of Pregnancy?
Congratulations! You’re pregnant.
That’s an incredible feeling, and of course, a bit overwhelming.
So, you may want to know what comes next—to better understand the stages of pregnancy and the changes that happen along the way.
The first stage is the conception period, which refers to the moment a fertilized egg is implanted in your uterus. As you move through your pregnancy, you’ll progress through three trimesters.
The first trimester is a big one as your baby’s major organs form, and you may find yourself feeling exhausted or with intense nausea and morning sickness.
In the second trimester, your baby will start moving around, and you’ll experience physical changes such as expanding breasts or skin discoloration.
By the third trimester, your baby will be almost fully grown; this is also when prenatal appointments will increase in frequency.
Your body will be going through an incredible transformation over those 9 months—but so will your life! That’s where preparation comes in: read up on nutrition facts for pregnant women to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs; familiarize yourself with labor techniques like Lamaze practice; prepare for post-natal recovery after childbirth; talk to family members about how they can best lend their support throughout this process; and more.
What Should You Expect During Childbirth?
Childbirth can be an exciting and scary experience. But, by being prepared, you can help make the process as comfortable and manageable as possible.
As you approach the due date, your body will likely go through several changes like contractions, nausea, lower back pain, and even pressure or pain in the rectum area. It’s important to talk to your doctor or midwife about any discomfort you’re feeling and make a plan for labor.
When it comes to childbirth itself, it’s helpful to know what makes up that process. Here are the three most typical stages of labor:
- The first stage is when your cervix fully dilates from 0-10 cm. During this time, labor contractions will increase in intensity and frequency.
- The second stage is when the baby begins to move through the birth canal. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes up to three hours or more depending on several factors such as whether this is a first-time birth or one that is progressing quickly.
- The third stage involves the delivery of the placenta as well as any associated tissue. After this stage is complete, you will have officially given birth!
Though it may seem daunting at first, being prepared for childbirth is the key to helping your journey run smoothly and giving your baby a healthy start in life!
Preparing Physically and Emotionally for Pregnancy and Birth
It’s normal to feel excited, overwhelmed, and sometimes scared about what your body may go through during pregnancy and childbirth. It’s important to understand the process and be prepared for it so you can enter your pregnancy with confidence.
Here are a few tips to help you both physically and emotionally prepare for the journey:
- Get Educated
Take some time to read up on pregnancy and birthing to learn more about it. There are lots of books, blogs, podcasts, and other resources that can help! Your healthcare provider can also answer any questions you might have. Understanding the process will help you feel better prepared when it comes time for labor.
- Connect with Other Moms
Connecting with other moms who have been through the same experience is invaluable. Ask them how they felt about their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experience, what worked for them, and what challenges they faced. Learning from those who’ve already gone through it can be incredibly helpful!
- Be Prepared Physically
On top of eating a balanced diet full of fruits, veggies, proteins, and whole grains, another way to get physically ready is by exercising during pregnancy. Not only will exercise help keep you healthy, but it can also reduce your risk of complications during labor as well as boost postpartum recovery. Talk to your physician about a regular exercise routine that is right for you during pregnancy!
Understanding the Different Birth Options Available
Ah, birth options. You’ll have so many to choose from once you enter the third trimester. It can be overwhelming, so it’s important to understand the differences between your main choices.
- Birthing in a Hospital
The most common option is birthing in a hospital, which gives both you and your baby protection from any complications that may arise during labor. In a hospital setting, medical tests and ultrasounds can be performed throughout labor which can identify issues quickly if needed.
There are other benefits too: medical staff will be on hand if needed, pain management will be available (such as an epidural or Entonox) and there are facilities for performing Cesarean sections should they become necessary.
- Home Births or Birthing Centers
Home births or birthing centers provide an environment where you have more control over the surroundings of your delivery, these settings often provide a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere than hospital wards.
However, there is less access to medical intervention should it become necessary and not all home births or birthing centers allow partners who accompany you during labor.
- Water Births
Water births are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a calming environment and can lessen the sensation of pain throughout delivery due to immersion in warm water. However, water births come with risks such as infection and the potential for umbilical cord entrapment so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before making your decision.
Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the birth options available to expectant parents such as yourself, it’s time for you to get prepared for first-time parenthood!
What to do When Labor Begins?
When labor begins, it’s time to make sure you’re prepared for the big day. Knowing what to expect and what you need for labor can help you get through it as smoothly as possible.
- Being Prepared
Before labor starts, it’s important to make sure that you have everything ready and packed. Your bag should include overnight items such as toiletries, maternity pads and clothing, snacks, a change of clothes for your partner, a camera or video camera if you are planning to document the birth, and other items that you may need while at the hospital or birthing center. Make sure you have an electronic copy of your birth plan if you had one prepared ahead of time.
- Recognizing Labor
The signs of labor can vary from woman to woman, but some common signs include regular contractions; lower back pain; a feeling of intense pressure in your pelvis; breaking of your water; cervical dilation (this is determined by ultrasound); bloody show (discharge with traces of blood). When these signs become more regular and intense it’s time to contact your doctor or midwife and head to the hospital or birthing center.
- Going into Labor
When going into labor there are several things to consider doing: timing contractions; taking a shower or bath; wearing comfortable clothing suitable for childbirth; drinking plenty of fluids; using breathing exercises during contractions; staying relaxed and calm during the early stages of labor. It’s important to remember that childbirth classes will teach you different methods for managing pain techniques such as relaxation techniques, massage techniques, and positioning techniques so don’t forget about those either.
Learning what to expect and how to prepare for pregnancy and childbirth can help create a positive and informed experience.
With a little bit of planning and working with your healthcare provider, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your health and the health of your baby.
Being mindful of your mental, emotional, and physical health during this special time can help ensure a successful and healthy pregnancy and birth. Ultimately, no matter how you decide to give birth, you can find the best option for you and your baby.
Lastly, don’t forget to choose the widest and best sanitary pads for heavy flow to stay comfortable during your postpartum days.