It seems like just yesterday you found out you were pregnant, and today you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of your little bundle of joy! There’s an emphasis on ‘anxiously’ because, especially if this is your first child, you are most likely feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety surrounding labor and delivery. It’s scary, it’s new, it’s unknown territory, but women have been giving birth for hundreds of years, your body will know what it needs to do, when it needs to do it. You will be surrounded by professionals who are there to help, every contraction of the way.
If it helps ease your anxiety, start packing your hospital bag and double checking you have everything you need. When your home is prepared, your anxiety may start to settle. Also, create a birth plan and discuss your expectations with your partner and healthcare providers. Even if you have a plan, be prepared that it may change, babies and the labor/delivery process can be unexpected.
As you start your research and planning, be sure to educate yourself on ALL birth options. You might plan for a natural home birth, but unexpectedly may need to go to the hospital, or you might prepare yourself for a vaginal delivery and end up needing a C-section. It will help ease your anxiety if you feel prepared for everything. Here are a few suggestions for how you can begin your preparations into motherhood:
READ (AUDIO) BOOKS
Educate yourself on all aspects of labor and delivery. Learn about the different breathing techniques, or different options for birth (home birth, water birth, hospital birth, etc.), read up on the early signs of labor and what to expect immediately after birth. There are so many resources and reading materials out there for first time parents, take advantage of them. Audiobooks are also a great option if you can’t find the time to sit down and read, but you can throw in some earbuds and continue with your day.
TAKE CLASSES AT YOUR HOSPITAL
The hospital you are planning on delivering at may offer classes, either in person or virtual, for parents to take and I encourage you to do so. This gives you a chance to hear from hospital staff that work exactly where you will be delivering, they will tell you all about their protocols and procedures, and you can have your questions answered by someone who knows exactly how the hospital operates.
TALK WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS
The best way to ease anxiety about childbirth is to talk to other moms who have recently given birth. Your family and friends may be able to give some insight on what to really expect when giving birth. I also warn you, that everyone’s birth experience is different, so if your family or friends share ‘horror stories’ from their childbirth, remind yourself that no two experiences are the same. You are looking for someone to help ease anxiety, to answer your questions, so if your family or friend isn’t helping with that – feel free to move along to something else on the list.
BROWSE THE INTERNET
I found the best way to ease my anxiety was to hear stories from as many moms who recently gave birth as possible. They just went through it, so they can share new experiences, as opposed to your mom or aunt who maybe gave birth 30+ years ago. The internet is filled with experienced moms, all willing to share advice and ease the anxiety of other moms – this mom club you are about to join is very welcoming. Look for a blog you can trust, like ImThatMom.com or look for videos you can relate to of other new moms, feeling the same way you are feeling.
Similar to browsing the internet, social media is flooded with new moms ready to give you the nitty gritty on childbirth and calm some of your fears and anxieties. There are real moms out there sharing real stories and real advice, all at your fingertips! It helps reading the books and hearing from professional doctors in the field, but sometimes it helps even more hearing from the average, everyday mom. In addition to the social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, etc. find a good podcast, like I’m That Mom, (or watch it on YouTube) so you can actually hear from other moms, as opposed to just reading their stories and looking at their pictures. Motherhood is a journey, and it helps to listen to how other moms navigated this new journey.
It’s normal to have anxiety surrounding childbirth, and truthfully it’s a good thing that you do. You are about to meet the little person who has been cooking in your belly for 9 months! Before you know it, you’ll gain a new title of Mom, and your life will change for the better. Although all of your feelings are valid and normal, there are things you can do to help ease your anxieties. Find your tribe and prepare yourself for your childbirth journey. No matter what the books or internet says, you are about to experience your own journey, so do your best to ease your anxieties and enjoy the ride. Your childbirth story will be so uniquely yours, and it will be beautiful…life changing…you will witness a true miracle…congratulations Mama!