by Teresa J. Mitchell
You've said your final good-byes at work. You've finished the nursery. You've celebrated the upcoming birth, baby shower or blessing ceremony.
Now you're focused on those little code-like taps coming from your belly and wondering when your baby-in-the-womb will become your baby snuggling in your arms.
For some women, these last days may seem to drag on endlessly. Others might want to dig in their heels and slow things down to make more time to get ready. Taking time to get prepared can help you as you empower yourself with knowledge and lessen the opportunity for surprises.
During your classes or while listening to your tapes, you learned multiple ways to relax and manage discomfort during birth. It's hard to mimic labor, but your aches and pains during the last weeks of pregnancy provide an opportunity to practice those techniques. They'll be familiar and handy when you need them.
Even if you plan to use medication during childbirth, practicing and applying the skills you learned in classes can make you comfortable before you get medical help or medication.
Even though you may not give birth for a few more weeks, you can get ready now. Go through your checklist and to as much as you can now. You list might include:
How can you make an unfamiliar experience less frightening? You can learn what to expect. Depending on your pregnancy and your choices, you'll be having your baby at home, at a birthing center or at a hospital. Here's what usually happens as you arrive at each locality:
Giving birth at home: You're one step ahead! You're here. Once you suspect you're in early labor, give your midwife a call. You'll probably keep in touch via the phone or e-mail until you decide that it's best for the midwife to be in the home.
While you're waiting, take a look at your list and make your last minute preparations, like candles or aroma therapy. You'll already have chosen your birth place and maybe set up a birthing pool. This is a good time to fill it.
Once your midwife and her equipment arrive, you can expect:
• Your birth team and your midwife to get introduced
• Your midwife to ask how you're doing
• Your blood pressure monitored
• Your baby's heart rate and position to be checked
• If your birthing plan includes exams, your midwife might check you and see how your labor is progressing
• Your midwife setting up her equipment in the birthing area
Having your baby at birthing center: You and your midwife (or doctor) have decided it's time for you come in to the birthing center. Probably your contractions are steady and about five minutes apart, if this is your first baby. Grab your birth bag and head on over.
Here's what you can expect at most birthing centers when you arrive:
• Your midwife or an RN from your birthing class will meet you and get you checked.
• Your blood pressure, your baby's heart rate and position to be monitored.
• If your birthing plan includes exams, your midwife might check you and see how your labor is progressing.
• Your team will encourage you to walk, get in the tub or sit on birthing ball.
Delivering at a hospital: Your contractions are closer together and it's time for you to make the drive to the hospital. Grab your birthing bag, your partner and get ready to meet your new baby!