As an expectant mother, you want your delivery to be as smooth and safe as possible for you and your baby. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, things don’t always go according to plan. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help reduce your chances of running into complications during labor and childbirth.
Here are some helpful tips to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible on one of the most important days in your life. From preparation to postpartum recovery advice, these strategies have been professionally vetted to provide maximum benefit for both mother and baby before, during, and after delivery day.
1. Choose the Right Healthcare Provider
One of the most important factors in reducing the risk of a difficult delivery is finding a healthcare provider who aligns with your values and birth preferences. Your provider should be someone who will listen to your concerns and respect your wishes. To find the right provider, start by asking for recommendations from friends, family, or your local childbirth education classes. You can also check online reviews and ratings to get a sense of a provider’s reputation.
Once you’ve found a few potential providers, schedule a consultation or meet and greet to get to know them better. Ask about their experience with natural births, their c-section rate, and their approach to pain management during labor. A good provider will be able to provide clear and concise answers to your questions and make you feel comfortable and confident in your choice.
2. Know When to Seek Medical Attention
Even with the best preparation, there is always a possibility of complications during labor and delivery. Some of the potential complications can include birth injuries like cerebral palsy or newborn hematoma, hemorrhage, infection, or postpartum depression. It’s important to know the signs of a difficult delivery, when to seek medical attention, and to be aware of complications of birth injuries and its potential risks.
Signs of a difficult delivery can include prolonged labor, lack of progress, fetal distress, or signs of infection. If you experience any of these signs or have concerns about your delivery, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. Advocating for yourself and your baby and seeking medical attention if necessary is important.
3. Stay Active During Pregnancy
Regular exercise during pregnancy can positively impact your physical and emotional health and help prepare your body for labor and delivery. Exercise can help improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility, and can also help reduce stress and anxiety. Walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga are all great options for staying active during pregnancy.
However, checking with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise program is important, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or any medical conditions. Your provider may recommend modifications to your exercise routine or advise against certain types of exercise altogether. Remember to listen to your body, take breaks as needed, and stay hydrated before, during, and after exercise.
4. Attend Prenatal Classes
Attending prenatal classes can help you prepare for the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy and gain knowledge and skills to help you during labor and delivery. Classes can cover topics such as childbirth education, breastfeeding, and newborn care. They can also provide an opportunity to connect with other expectant parents and build a support system.
When choosing a prenatal class, look for options that fit your schedule, budget, and preferences. Consider classes that are offered in a hospital or birth center or classes that are led by certified childbirth educators. You can also check with your healthcare provider or local childbirth education organizations for recommendations.
5. Practice Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization can help you stay calm and focused during labor and delivery. These techniques can also help reduce stress and anxiety, leading to a more comfortable and positive birth experience. Practice these techniques throughout pregnancy to help prepare your mind and body for labor and delivery.
You can learn relaxation techniques through childbirth education classes, prenatal yoga classes, or online resources. Find a quiet and comfortable space to practice, and try different techniques to see what works best. Remember to practice regularly and incorporate relaxation techniques into your daily routine.
6. Consider a Birth Plan
A birth plan is a document that outlines your preferences for your birth experience, including your preferences for pain management, delivery positions, and any other special requests. A birth plan can help you communicate your wishes to your healthcare provider and ensure that your birth experience aligns with your values and preferences.
When creating a birth plan, start by researching and discussing your options with your healthcare provider. Be specific and clear in your preferences, and be open to flexibility in case of unexpected circumstances. Also, share your birth plan with your partner and support team, so they know your wishes and can advocate for you during labor and delivery.
7. Get Support
Having a support system during labor and delivery can help reduce stress and anxiety and provide comfort and encouragement. Your support team can comprise your partner, family members, friends, or a professional doula. Consider who you want to be present with during birth and ensure they know your preferences and desires.
Before labor, discuss your support team’s role and expectations, and make sure they understand what you need from them during labor and delivery. Remember that your support team is there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need during this time.
8. Avoid Inductions
Induction is the process of artificially starting labor before it begins naturally. While induction may be necessary in certain cases, it can also increase the risk of a difficult delivery. Induction can lead to longer and more painful contractions, increasing the need for pain medication and the likelihood of a c-section.
If your provider suggests induction, make sure to discuss the risks and benefits and explore alternative options. Sometimes, it may be better to wait for labor to begin naturally.
9. Consider a Doula
A doula is a trained birth professional who provides emotional and physical support to the mother during labor and delivery. Doulas can help reduce stress and anxiety, provide comfort measures, and help facilitate communication between the mother and the healthcare provider.
When choosing a doula, consider their training and experience, as well as their availability and fees. Finding a doula who aligns with your values and preferences and who you feel comfortable with is important.
Following these nine tips can help reduce the risk of a difficult delivery and increase your chances of a safe and positive birth experience. Remember to communicate your preferences and desires to your healthcare provider, stay active and relaxed during pregnancy, and build a support system to help you through labor and delivery. While there are no guarantees when it comes to childbirth, taking these steps can help you feel more prepared and confident for your big day.