Preparing for the mental challenges of labor means having a great coach, and trying to stay positive.
If I could tell you how many women get to 8 centimeters and yell “I can’t do this!” I would really try, because the number is huge. There’s something that happens in those last minutes (or hours, or days) of labor that makes just about every woman question their resolve and ability to deliver their baby. If you have ever had a baby you may know well about the mental challenges of labor. If you are new to it, don’t worry because one fact is sure: many women have overcome and you can as well. Your bags are packed and the crib is ready so now it’s time for you to prepare yourself for this momentous day–the birth of your baby. Thankfully there are a few ways you can help prepare yourself for the many mental challenges labor will bring so you can enjoying this special time. Here are a few tips to help you get mentally prepared for the momentous day!
- Find a labor partner. A labor partner can be your spouse, significant other, friend, or doula. It doesn’t who you have at your side as long as they can help support you, and provide the encouragement you need when you feel your most weak.
- Stay clear of negative birth stories. It’s normal to be curious about the things that can go wrong with labor but watching television programs about nightmare birth experiences or listening to friends and family members tell you about their laboring nightmares is not going to help you with the mental challenges of labor. Try to focus on the positive aspects, seeing your baby and remember–no two births are alike so there’s no guarantee that yours will be anything less than wonderful.
- Decide on a pain management strategy. As part of your birth plan you should have a pain management strategy that you want to use during labor and delivery. Be sure your labor partner is supportive of your decision. Talk with your OB about your desire to avoid the use of medications during labor or when you will agree to an epidural or other pain medication. It’s important to evaluate the positive and negative aspects of all pain management strategies before you decide on the one that’s right for you. Pain control can be a big part of tacking the mental challenges of labor–it doesn’t mean you need to have an epidural or other narcotic on board either. Choose a birthing class or approach to help you manage pain, or just take the epidural!
- Stay active and healthy. Continue to eat healthy foods, exercise, and hydrated until labor begins. Labor and delivery will be easier for you, both mentally and physically, if you continue to make healthy choices and are as healthy as you can be when it’s time for birth.
- Avoid the ‘What ifs’. Thinking about all the things that could possibly go wrong right before the big day arrives will not help you with the mental challenges of labor. If you find yourself thinking negative thoughts about labor see how you can turn those thoughts into something positive. Yes we have all done it, but try to keep things sunny side up.
- Practice coping strategies. Prepare for labor by practicing anxiety reducing strategies such as deep breathing, yoga breathing, guided imagery, and visualization. See yourself coping well with labor and envision the birth of your baby as a positive experience to help you mentally prepare for the big day.
- Take a birth preparation class. Birth preparation classes like Lamaze technique or the Bradley method help prepare you for labor. In these classes you will learn the signs of labor, breathing exercises to help you cope with painful contractions, and what to expect during labor and delivery. In addition, birth preparation classes give you and your labor partner a chance to bond and rehearse for your big day. These classes help you learn what to expect with mental challenges of labor and delivery and give you a chance to interact with other expecting mothers and their birth partners.
There are many other ways you can face the mental challenges of labor. Dr. Hessel will be happy to discuss with you how you can be mentally prepared for labor so you can enjoy this momentous occasion. Please call her office today to schedule an appointment.