Since writing the Nurses Guide To The Ultimate Birth Experience, I thought it may be helpful to give readers some perspective on how to prepare for labour, from labour and delivery nurses. So I went out and asked them!
Courtney Friedman, Registered Nurse and owner of 3 Little Mudpies has written a fantastic article about the Journey to Motherhood. It has been published in i-Am Magazine (page 24) and includes excellent advice with ideas on how to prepare for labour. You can check it out below!
Nurses: What Are Your Best Words Of Advice For A Pregnant Mama Worried About Child Birth Or The Postpartum Period? Give Some Tips on How to Prepare for Labour.
Labour….. They can’t stay in there forever. One way or another it is eviction day!
“Be a partner in your care. Find reliable sources of information to make decisions TOGETHER with your provider. Don’t agree to things that you feel uncomfortable with. It’s OK to ask for more information and time.”
“There are no stupid questions.”
“Don’t Google everything or listen to everyone’s birth experiences. Do skin to skin, and drink lots of water especially in the summer. Don’t feel defeated if you get pain medication as each persons pain tolerance is different. Breastfeeding is not always easy but never give up it will come. Ask for help when you get home and set limits to number of visitors who come to see you the first week. Put a “do not disturb” sign on the front door, especially while baby is sleeping. Sleep while your baby sleeps. remember no one is perfect – you will learn your baby’s cues and cries and sometimes it’s OK to let them cry… Especially when you are stressed. You can always walk away and count to 50 …”
How to prepare for labour: learn everything you can from reliable resources. Don’t listen to everyone’s horror stories – Don’t borrow trouble from a road you haven’t travelled yet- Everyone’s path is their own. Practice focusing and use your support systems!
“Sleep when the baby sleeps!”
“After you get home, people who say “call me if you need anything”, always mean it. Ask them to do a freezer meal or a pot of soup that you can stick in the freezer for dinner on those days that you’ve been overwhelmed.”
“Birth does not come with an award (except a healthy baby). If you need pain meds, take them!”
Breastfeeding is like learning to ride a bike. You get on and fall off. Over and over. Then one day you just go!
“Do what feels right for you, your baby and your family! Find a great Doctor or Midwife and look into a birth / postpartum doula. I wish Mommas and families knew that hospital nurses are there to keep you safe. We want to give you the best birth and postpartum experience we can. We will do everything we can for you, but this is not a hotel. Be proactive, as we cannot go home with you… And in postpartum, we have other patients. Sometimes I feel like they have no idea that they are now parents.”
“Everyone in the family has to have patience with each other while everyone (mom, dad and baby) figure out their role. Babies are confused, moms are a mess thinking they are screwing up and dad is running around trying to fix mom and baby (cause that’s what comes naturally to them). Only time and patience can fix this and make a home as normal as it can be with a new baby. Have patience with each other!”
I always tell my patients that we want them to be as comfortable as possible. But, their baby is our patient too. So if we ask them to turn or position in a way that they don’t want to, it’s because we are trying to keep their baby happy.
Another tip on how to prepare for labour: “We all do the best with the circumstances and information that we have at the time. No one should regret what they couldn’t know until later. Having a “good” birth is as simple as that. Do the best you can and let go of the rest. It’s also not a bad parenting philosophy, either.”
“Don’t feel like less of a woman or mother if for whatever reason you have to have a c-section.
Your body is amazing. Trust it. Listen to it. It will tell you what to do.
Have realistic expectations of pain. Pain hurts. Everyone experiences pain differently. Don’t be ashamed to ask for pain medicine or an epidural, even if for nine months you said you would never have it.”
“If you have a c-section , there will be pain. Nurses want to help you hurt the least amount possible. We are not miracle workers. Even with the best pain meds, you may still have some pain. Our goal is to get that pain from an 8 to a 2. Zero is usually not realistic.”
How to prepare for labour: learn all you can before the event and go to childbirth classes. Be informed and ask lots of questions!
“Your Labour RN is your best buddy ever….”
“Don’t wait until the last minute for an epidural if you would like one. The labs and IV fluids required for an epidural take time, and the anesthesiologist may not be available right away, or your nurse. If possible review the positioning required for epidural placement in advance when you are in a manageable level of pain, and prepare yourself mentally to remain still during it. And don’t let people scare you out of it by saying so and so has back problems for life because of the one time that got an epidural (and not years of bad posture and daily wear and tear. …lol).”
Remember this is your birth, your baby, your family. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to say no to visitors. Everyone gets excited about the new baby but forgets about your hours of labour.
“It seems like lots of mamas prepare for birth and forget about preparing for motherhood. If she or her partner has never changed a diaper, witnessed breastfeeding/prepared a bottle, swaddled a baby–practice, take a parenting class, and/or read up!”
“When a mom is having trouble nursing I tell her once the baby gets it it will be like a magnet to metal. It all takes time.”
“Birth plans are effective if
A) You know what and why you are asking
B) You accept that birth is unpredictable and are OK with things deviating from your birth plan.”
“Stay off the internet!”
You are you.
Not your sister, cousin, neighbour, or best friend. Don’t compare your pregnancy or birth journey to anyone else’s.
“Don’t believe everything you hear from well intentioned people. Go with the flow.”
“Tour the possible hospital(s) & talk to the nurses there, then use that to pick your doctor since the doctor isn’t the one who takes care of you the entire stay. If the nurses don’t have time for a visitor/tour, they likely won’t have time for a patient, so go somewhere else. I Stress the part about limiting visitors so they can rest, especially the first day, because we all know about the second night feeding frenzy! Try to extend that visiting limitation for the first few weeks. Don’t be afraid to delegate the housework to those visitors! They get to snuggle baby, but only after they do the dishes, cook a meal, etc!”
“They all come out one way or another in my experience…”
At the end of the day, all that really matters is a happy, healthy baby and a happy, healthy mommy!
Happy labouring, mamas!
xo, The Mama Nurse
Do you have any tips on how to prepare for labour? Do you have any other tips and tricks for labour & delivery? Please share in the comment section below!
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