First-time moms: How to ensure a safe, normal delivery

First-time mothers are often nervous, and it's no wonder! There's a lot of misguided and scary information circulating out there, and without having that direct experience, or a connection to someone who does, giving birth can seem like a frightening prospect. The truth, however, is that there's nothing in the world more natural than the birthing process.

Lamaze International's Journal of Perinatal Education claimed that birth was designed by nature to be intuitive as well as stress- and trouble-free. And, while the process of labor isn't exactly painless and complications are always possible, the majority of women go through birth without incident.

That means that first-time moms have every reason in the world to feel confident they'll have a safe delivery. If you still find yourself stressing, however, here are several steps you can take to give yourself the best chance of a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal labor and delivery.

Eat right: Eating according to a pregnancy diet prescribed by your doctor will not only ensure healthy baby development, but it will put you in peak condition for giving birth. Most doctors will recommend foods high in calcium, folate, fiber, iron and essential vitamins like vitamins A and C. Talk to yours in order to find a plan that's right for you.

Stay in shape for delivery: Many moms-to-be are uncertain whether exercising during pregnancy is a good idea, but the truth is that exercising will help keep your mood up and keep you strong - and strength is definitely something you'll need during delivery. The question, then, isn't whether to exercise - but how much. If you're already an avid fitness buff, you'll be able to continue exercising without worry. You may have to make some modifications and learn to take it easy when you start to flag, but as long as you're in tune with your body, you shouldn't fear. If you don't already follow a regular fitness routine, you can still exercise - you'll just have to be much gentler. Like any novice gym-goer, you should pace yourself and avoid over-stressing your body. If you do belong to a gym, you can request a personal training session and ask which activities are best for you. If not, talk to your doctor before attempting anything.

Find the right doctor: You'll feel much better heading into the delivery room if the doctor inside is someone you trust. Take your time when choosing an obstetrician. Ask friends and relatives for referrals, and talk to a few different doctors before you decide. Remember: You'll need to deal with this person at a time when you're most vulnerable. You'll feel much calmer at the big moment if it's someone you feel comfortable with.

Move around during labor: Many women make the mistake of taking it easy when in labor, but in order to feel better and speed the process along, it's better to switch positions frequently or even walk around. This can help get everything moving, meaning the whole process may go that much faster. Moving around while in labor can also make the contractions less severe and easier to manage.

Don't lay on your back: Counter to what many believe, giving birth on your back isn't the safest position and may even be dangerous. Instead, you should choose a more upright position, such as squatting or lying on your side while propped up. This helps you use gravity to your advantage and feel the body's urges to push more clearly.

Been here done this? What other ideas do you have to share with first-time moms? Let us know in the comments section!