If you’re already counting down to the big day, then you’ll know that there are lots of things to plan and prepare. There’s no need to stress, Your Pregnancy Doctor has all the information and advice you need. Follow our essential ten-step action plan and you’ll be ready and raring to go by the time of your baby’s birth.
- Class action
Book some antenatal classes, they can be a great source of knowledge and support. The classes can also be an opportunity to mix, share your experiences and exchange tips. Many of the women I care for make friends for life at their antenatal classes. Your midwife will have information about local groups, and you could also check-out NCT classes near to you.
- Visit the hospital
It’s always a good idea to get to know the hospital or birthing centre in which you’re going to give birth. Most offer group tours, or you could ask if you and your partner can have a proper look around on your own. Remember to make a list of questions that you want answered and check that your partner is fully aware of all the important spots, like the café, the shop, the loos and the best place to get a good mobile phone reception!
- Mothers’ meetings
Get together with other expectant mums for coffee and a chat. Some groups like NCT organise bumps and babes sessions so that you can meet new women who are all going through similar experiences. Ask your midwife for recommendations in your area. It may seem frivolous and fun but it’s important. Some mothers find that they feel lonely and isolated during maternity leave, building a social network can help prevent this.
- Big breaths
Try some deep breathing and relaxation exercises to help you cope with the pain in labour. Many women attend Hypnobirthing courses to help them deal with the rigours of birth.
- Plan and prepare
Write your Birth Plan. Think about what Pain Relief you want in labour: epidural, gas and air, acupuncture or aromatherapy? Read about all the options and think about what’s right for you. However, I know I’ve said this before but it definitely bears repeating, try and stay open and flexible because births don’t always go according to plan.
- Pack your bag
Nappies? Check! Breast pads? Check! Snacks and slippers? Check! Kitchen sink? Yes, I know the list of ‘essential’ items for your hospital bag can seem endless. However, I always think it’s better to have too much than too little, that way you’re comfortable and prepared for every eventuality. Try and get things ready from around 35-36 weeks in case junior is planning to turn up unfashionably early.
- Child care on call
If you have other children, then plan their childcare well in advance. Have their contact details programmed into your phone and your partner’s and also have a proper hard copy written out. I think it’s a great idea to have a couple of emergency back-up helpers standing by too, just in case.
- Compile your contacts
This is one for your partner-but you might want to edit and amend the final list. Make sure they have the numbers of the people to call to spread the happy news. If you’re planning on announcing the birth on social media, it’s a good idea to check that some friends and family (maybe the older members in particular) won’t be offended by this approach.
- Spoil yourself
The days, weeks and months after the birth will be totally focused on responding to and caring for the new arrival. Take advantage of the time before the birth to relax, have some time to yourself and socialise with friends. It’s a good idea to indulge yourself if you can with a massage, a manicure or a hair restyle, it could be quite a while before you get the opportunity again.
- Know the signs
In late pregnancy when you’re desperate for your baby to arrive, it’s common to obsessively inspect your knickers for a show and analyse each niggle. Most women are pretty clear that regular painful contractions or the gush of waters leaking mean that labour is underway. However, in the early stages things may not be as obvious. Things may be starting if you notice persistent lower back pain or abdominal pain, a bit like the ache of your period. If you have increased painful tightenings that come and go, or if you get a blood-tinged mucous show. Other signs include an episode of diarrhoea, a restless or anxious feeling and even more disrupted sleep than normal.