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4 things you should do towards the end of pregnancy to prepare for labor.

This is a list with links to deeper material on how to prepare for labor. It covers all aspects from practical to mental preparedness.

a woman at the end of the pregnancy

1. Pack Your Bag - First Step to Prepare for Labor

There are countless packing lists available online, varying in length. Some suggest being prepared for an extended stay at the hospital, while we propose the opposite.


There are two reasons for this: first and foremost, you don't want to carry around a lot of things that you probably won't use. Some items people bring can become unhygienic to have near childbirth.


From my experience with my first delivery, I learned that you might even need to discard the clothes you wore during labor. Some stains simply don't come out.


Like many others, we also brought candy, snacks, and entertainment. However, that's not something we'll do next time. The entertainment on our phones was enough to pass the time, and at least at Södersjukhuset, we received enough food and drinks, so candy and snacks won't be necessary again.


I'll delve more into the topic of food close to delivery in point 2 below. However, next time, I will bring sports drinks with electrolytes, which you will understand further in point 2. So, when it's time to prepare for delivery, I'll use the packing list I previously compiled.



2. Learn About Foods that Can Facilitate Childbirth

As mentioned before, I will bring sports drinks with electrolytes for my next delivery. In Eva's post about bicarbonate, she explains why it's beneficial. In her study, they examined whether bicarbonate could help in cases of stalled labor. There is also a study in progress in Norway investigating whether bicarbonate can be used preventively.


Most people have read about various foods, especially beverages, that are claimed to initiate labor. Firstly, most of these claims lack scientific evidence of effectiveness. At Doktor Eva, we have also opposed the popular labor-inducing drink that many influencers consume.


This drink, containing castor oil, can even be harmful and contribute to oxygen deprivation during childbirth for both the mother and the baby. Read about the myths surrounding foods that induce labor in the post below.


But despite the numerous myths on this subject, there are some foods that you can consume before delivery that can be advantageous, such as beets. Read about the foods that can help you load up on nitrates before delivery in the post below about bicarbonate.


pregnancy photo

3. Educate Yourself About Every Stage of Labor

Knowledge can provide you with confidence during childbirth. Many women feel they haven't received enough information about their delivery, but truthfully, we have our own responsibility to educate ourselves about what happens during our childbirth.


Here are our posts about the stages of labor:

Active Phase of Labor - Pain Relief & Care (coming soon)

Soon the Baby Is Out - Descending in the Pelvis (coming soon)


There are those in the doula community who believe that these stages are a "misunderstanding" and aren't real. What we must remember is that they are scientific simplifications of what happens during childbirth, but every woman goes through these stages when delivering vaginally.


By having some knowledge about these stages, you can also better understand what doctors and midwives say if something doesn't go exactly as planned. We've received questions, for example, about statements regarding the final stage and the pelvis.


Inductions are a typical subject where women feel they don't receive sufficient information. Therefore, we have compiled an entire category page on DoktorEva.com where we gather all our posts about inductions. You can find all the information you may need here; Induction.


For those who go past their due dates, membrane sweeps are often discussed. However, the scientific evidence supporting membrane sweeps is weak. Read more about membrane sweeps in the post below.


You should also consider your preferences for pain relief before labor and perhaps even write them down in your birth plan (if you want one).


Some women want pain relief right from the start, while others may have overly optimistic expectations of their pain threshold. I was one of the latter. I hadn't planned to have an epidural, but since I was induced and had very intense contractions, it ended up being the case.


The most important thing regarding pain relief is to have an open mind and take things as they come. Educate yourself a bit about what the different options entail and whether they have any disadvantages. Ultimately, the most important thing is that you have the strength to get through childbirth.


Within the doula community, there are often alternative views on pain and pain relief, which can sometimes be very "Mother Earth" and abstract. Unfortunately, these voices are the most prominent on the internet nowadays. What you need to remember is that you must choose what's right for you. You should feel safe, and the pain should be manageable for you during childbirth. Let go of any thoughts about how some people say childbirth "should be."


We have also chosen to compile an entire category page for pain relief, where you can find all our posts on the topic. You find it here; Pain relief.


4. Prepare Yourself Mentally

The way I recommend preparing for childbirth may very well be what differs most from other online voices. Antenatal classes are something many attend nowadays, but I believe they are unnecessary.


Another thing is to not listen to a bunch of stories about birth trauma; they only create anxieties. 90% of all deliveries go well and are considered normal, so most likely, everything will go well for you too.


Regarding breathing, I would say that regular meditation and yoga are perfectly sufficient. That type of breathing can feel much more natural and less contrived. Additionally, I recommend reading a bit about sports psychology and how to prepare, for example, for a marathon. There are some good suggestions there.


Some examples include entering childbirth with the right mindset, and not trying to resist or give up. Listen to and collaborate with your midwife. Focus on what you're doing, but make sure to replenish your energy whenever you can, right from the start. And don't forget to try to maintain a positive attitude throughout childbirth—smiling or laughing can actually give you some extra energy.


Summary

Take a look at the four points, and you will be as prepared as you can be. Don't forget to try to enjoy the final moments before childbirth, even if you experience symptoms.


Have a maternity photoshoot, film the baby kicking in your belly, or do something else to remember this short period in life.


As I mentioned, the majority of childbirths are completely normal, so most likely, yours will be too!

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