Preparing to birth a baby can at times feel overwhelming, especially if this is your first baby. Even parents preparing for a second or third birth can feel overwhelmed. Online Midwife Edwina Sharrock, Founder of Birth Beat shares her top 8 tips to prepare for your best birth.
Grab your notebook and pen, make a list and then set to marking each thing off.
Your first step is to decide where you plan to birth and who you want in your birth support team. This is an important step and one I find that women can feel rushed into making. It is important to feel comfortable and at ease with your care provider, and importantly, feel trust in them. Please also remember if during your pregnancy your feelings or personal situation change, you can change your mind. This is your birth experience, your body and your baby.
Often your first medical appointment in pregnancy will be with a GP. If you do not have a family GP now is the time to find one for you and your growing family. Some GP’s can care for you through your whole pregnancy and do what is called shared care and may even be there for the birth of your baby.
Many women now have the option to have a Midwife follow them through their pregnancy and birth. This is called group midwifery practice and the benefit is that you get to know your midwife and the small team of Midwives who will be there for your birth.
Group midwifery practice can be a very popular model, so book into these early in your pregnancy. (Like you just peed on a stick early!)
Often this will be someone you see privately. If you are needing to see an Obstetrician and birthing at a public hospital you often will not get to elect which Obstetrician you see.
I recommend asking family and friends for referrals to care providers. Take the time to meet with them and check that you click before making your decision.
You may now also want to consider booking a doula. Many women become confused about the difference between a midwife and a doula. A midwife is a medical professional who is trained and qualified to provide medical care and support in your pregnancy, birth and early motherhood.
A doula is a support person but they don’t replace a midwife. Some women describe doulas as a mother to the mother, someone who provides emotional and practical support during pregnancy, birth and in the early weeks with a newborn.
Many couples are now choosing to document the birth of their child with a professional photographer or videographer. This is a highly personal choice and not something you feel you should or shouldn’t do – it’s about what feels right for you and your family.
Now of course I am going to say this because this is what I do. I teach online antenatal classes and online baby and child first aid classes. However this is honestly one of the most important things you can do to prepare for your best possible birth experience. When it comes to pregnancy, labour and early parenting there is much to learn about and knowledge is power.
It is important to choose a class that teaches you everything you need to know, in a friendly and engaging way. A good antenatal class will give you the evidence based information, so that you know what to expect and can make the decisions that are right for you.
It is important to understand the stages of labour, the power of relaxation, massage, natural and medical pain relief options, the role of your partner or support person, different types of births e.g vaginal, inductions of labour, c-section, water births plus so much more. These are just the basics! Find a course that covers it all while also giving you the opportunity to ask any questions along the way.
Please come and have a look at Birth Beat to discover more about what’s included in our online courses.
Remember you are now growing a human (how amazing is your body) so be conscious about resting, eating well and movement.
Many women feel very fatigued in the first trimester of pregnancy. Now is the time to really listen to your body and rest when you need to and remember to stay well hydrated and maintain a balanced diet.
One of the not so great early symptoms of pregnancy is bloating and constipation. So ensure you drink 10 glasses of water a day, get lots of fibre and take a regular walk to help relieve these symptoms.
Start to think about what you will need to purchase for your baby. One fine baby has a fabulous service where you can create your gift registry - when people ask what you want or need you can point them to the one spot. So clever and easy for expecting and new parents.
Now is the time to start packing your hospital bags. Packing a few bags may seem so simple. However, after having so much learning to do during pregnancy it can be too much to remember! Often simply writing things down is the best way to get them out of your head and help you feel more in control.
You’ll need your hospital bag, bubs hospital bag and your labour grab & go bag. At Birth Beat, we have created a complete checklist for the 3 bags you need to pack for birth, (you can download it here) and get packing.
A tip of mine is to prepare some meals. Batch freeze, cook a few meals to go in the freezer or purchase a few meals to be on hand for those early days that are consumed by feeding your new baby and resting and recovering from the birth. The more you do to decrease the load in the early days after having your baby the better.
While this is not a must, this is definitely a hot tip I share with all my Birth Beat mums and dads. I encourage you to take the time to put your birth wishes on paper. This will help you to feel prepared and empowered. It will also help you to think about what you plan to use for pain relief strategies, or where you plan to give birth. When and who you would like to visit after your baby is born. You may want to include things like birthing positions, eg in the bath or shower or your partner's role eg cutting the baby's umbilical cord. If you want some guidance on preparing your birth wishes you can discover more tips here.
My final advice is surround yourself with positive, supportive friends and community. Avoid Dr Google at three am and ensure you are getting your information from a reliable source. As much as you love your Mum, times have changed since her birth, and avoid those who seem to just want to share horror stories, this is not helpful or kind to you. This will become more important as you approach your due date.
Edwina Sharrock is a Registered Midwife and Emergency Nurse with over 14 years experience. She has delivered 100’s of babies and worked with 1000’s of parents to help them prepare for their best birth possible.
A proud mother of two children, Polly and Theo, Edwina is also the CEO and Founder of Birth Beat - online childbirth and first aid education courses that parents can access 24/7 from the comfort of their home.