A soon-to-be-mummy or daddy? It's an exciting time for you and your partner! You've probably already read countless articles on what to expect during pregnancy (especially if you're a first-time parent); if you haven't, you're in luck! Ranging from physical health to mental health, we've compiled a list of 11 tips to help you achieve a B.E.T.T.E.R B.I.R.T.H. experience, so read away!
Be prepared with a birth plan.
A birth plan is a document that conveys your wishes to the medical team (or whoever is helping you with your labor) to ensure they are on the same page as you, and are clear on how you want your birth to be. It also states clearly your preferences, such as for your baby’s delivery, after birth baby-care, or actions to be taken in unexpected circumstances.
You don’t have to wait until you’re nearing your delivery date to start creating your birth plan -- that might be too late. Start early, and you’d have plenty of time to research and make your decision. Most hospitals usually provide you with a template, but if you wish to create your own, remember to include sections on birthing environment, pain management, post-birth care and the kind of delivery you wish to have.
Explore the different birth environments and birth care providers and choose the one that resonates with you the most.
Where do you feel the safest and best supported to deliver your baby? Being somewhere you feel at ease can go miles in keeping yourself positive during your delivery. It is also important to make sure that the place you’ve selected is aligned with your birth philosophy. For instance, if you are a firm believer of the ‘golden hour’ right after birth and wish to have that for yourself, you have to ensure that your chosen facility understands that and designates an uninterrupted hour of mummy-baby time for you to further establish that bond with your baby.
Try different upright positions for your labor.
Research has shown that upright positions such as standing, walking or sitting may help to shorten the first stage of labor, and might lower the chances of you having a cesarean delivery too. Therefore, do some research on the different positions that you can go into that might help with your labor, and go for birthing movement workshops which introduce different movements that can help encourage dilation before and during labor.
Take time for self care.
You're sharing your body with your baby, so this is a time when self care is more important than ever. Maintaining a nutritious diet can facilitate good brain development, and help both you and your baby to maintain a healthy weight gain, which can reduce the risk of many birth defects.
Self care is also not just about making sure your body is a healthy home for your baby -- it also means taking care of your own wellness and happiness too. Take time out for yourself to enjoy activities that help you to destress, and rest when you need to!
Empower yourself with knowledge.
There are just so many things to learn and know about pregnancy and labor, and the bombardment of information you get when you search for one piece of information sometimes just gets too much. A good alternative to that will be attending antenatal or childbirth preparation workshops. These workshops seek to better prepare you AND your partner for your labor process and parenthood, equipping you with skills such as birthing movements, teaching your partner massage techniques as well as arming both of you with knowledge about the stages of labour, breastfeeding, baby care and bottle feeding too.
It might feel impossible to learn it all, but take baby steps. The fact that you’re here reading this article shows that you’re on the path of empowering yourself with knowledge, so good job!
Relax yourself via relaxation techniques or therapy such as Watsu®
Massages go a long way during labor -- they can help you relax and release the tension from the delivery process. Regular massages before labor can also prime your muscles to be more supple, allowing them to relax more quickly after a contraction during your labor, which can help with the resting periods between each contraction.
Therapies, especially aqua therapies like Watsu® can help to reduce discomfort during pregnancy. Watsu® is a form of aqua therapy consisting of stretches, twists and massages in the water to enable a state of deep relaxation, easing away tension and relieving pain. Watsu® is especially beneficial for prenatal mums who are experiencing body aches, sleepless nights, backaches, and it is perfect for expectant mums close to their due date as it helps them to relax while promoting the opening of the pelvis and getting into the baby into an optimal position.
Be fit with exercises such as prenatal yoga, prenatal Pilates and aqua pregnancy
Exercise is highly encouraged during your pregnancy, as it can help to ensure a healthy weight gain for you and can help to lower the risk of a cesarean delivery as well. Prenatal yoga is especially helpful as it helps to prepare your body to be upright during your labor. Yoga positions can also work to keep your pelvis open, while the breathing techniques are definitely helpful practice to breathe away the tension and pain during your labor. Other exercises such as aqua pregnancy help to stretch and tone your muscles while strengthening your hips and joints, all of which can work to provide relief from your aches.
Invest in couple time
Pregnancy period is an exciting yet emotional time for not only you, but your partner as well. It’s the start of a new chapter in your lives, and that is also why communication is now more important than ever. Allocate down time everyday for you and your partner to have a heart-to-heart conversation or simply spend time alone together, and share your feelings so that both of you can understand the emotional status of the other person.
Release more oxytocin
Known as the ‘Love Hormone’, oxytocin doubles as both a hormone to coordinate our body’s functions, and a neurotransmitter to help promote relaxation and strengthen emotional bonds between you and your baby. This magical substance also helps to facilitate labor, relaxing the cervix and stimulating pain-relieving endorphins. There are many ways to increase oxytocin levels during labor, such as immersing in warm water or just being in a calm environment.
Trust yourself and seek help when you need it.
Keeping a positive mindset during your pregnancy can help to reduce your stress levels and promote lovely prenatal bonding with your baby. So talk to your baby and try out breathing exercises. You are the expert to your baby, so trust yourself and your decisions!
Hire a doula.
Research has proven that doulas can help to reduce the need for pain medications and other medical interventions during labor. A doula is a supporting pillar that guides new parents in their pregnancy journey and eases their transition to parenthood. They provide a source of physiological and psychological support, making sure that the mummies are healthy mentally and physically, and that the daddies are well-equipped with the knowledge of how they can help their wife throughout the pregnancy.
Inspire Mum & Baby is a holistic pregnancy, fitness and therapy centre. We offer prenatal and postnatal services such as aqua pregnancy, pre- and postnatal yoga as well as antenatal workshops and doula services to support expectant mummies in their pregnancy journey. We are also the only official Watsu® centre here in Singapore. Learn more about our services here!