Preparing for a Safe Landing

In the last one-year, we’ve walked you through your gestation journey with our series - Pregnancy: A miracle in the making. We’ve talked about the specialties of each of the trimesters and discussed the changes you can expect, the activities you can embark on and the signs you should watch out for at each stage. In this last article of the series, we give you tips on how to prep your body and your life for the biggest moment of your life! –  By Rashmi Ullas

The larger-than-life-sized belly you’re dragging around and the whale of emotions (sometimes anxiety, sometimes joy, sometimes impatience) may make it seem like the third trimester will go on forever. Stay put… because, before you know it, your precious baby will be in your arms. And as you countdown, there are some things you can do to prepare for the grand arrival.

Get set for labour

Even though there are tons of data available on labour, each pregnancy is different and each woman’s body is a unique situation. Nevertheless, there are some things in common, which you can learn from past experiences. Here’s how you can prepare for that most anticipated occasion:

#1 Read up about childbirth

If someone’s told you ignorance is bliss, it’s not an advice you should take when it comes to getting prepared for labour. Childbirth is not like any other surgery that you undergo with anaesthesia. It’s a process where the woman has to be actively involved so that the whole episode can proceed as smoothly as possible.

There is a lot of information available on how to deal with the pain and the breathing exercises, which will help you. Also, knowing the types and techniques used during delivery will help you make informed decisions and help you better choose the options laid out before you. This is especially crucial in high-risk pregnancies.

#2 Learn about the signs

Usually mild contractions start ahead of the actual labour. The actual labour starts with contractions that are much closer in duration and intense. One of the earliest signs of labour are when your baby descends (head down) into your pelvis. You may begin to make even more frequent trips to the bathroom than before, because the baby’s head is pushing into your bladder.

Your cervix will slowly begin to dilate and thin out (efface) and you will feel more cramps in the groin and lower back pain. Your joints feel loose because the hormone Relaxin is softening the ligaments and joints of the body. This happens so the pelvis can open up in preparation. The hormone may also be the reason why you have loose stools at this stage.

Just days before labour, you may notice increased and/or thickened vaginal discharge. You may also see blood-streaked mucus like secretions from the vagina. The contractions begin steadily and do not ease out. Some women also experience their water breaking, which is like the uncontrolled passage of urine. Water breaking is one of the final signs of labour.

#3 Educate your partner

Your partner is going to be by your side during those precious moments and it’s nice to get him involved earlier on, rather than let him be a mute spectator. Taking birth classes as partners is a great idea to begin with. A well-informed partner can really be bliss in those trying moments.

A pregnancy can swing in any direction and no one can actually assure you how it will go. There may be occasions where you may not be in a position to take the call and so your partner should decide for you both. And, it is important that your partner knows the options and the complications that may arise during childbirth, so he can make the best decision.

#4 Prep your body

There are some specific exercises that help strengthen your pelvic muscles for the big day:

Butter fly pose: Sit on the floor with your back straight and the bottom of your feet touching each other. Gently push your knees towards the floor using your elbow until you feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Hold the stretch for a few seconds (10-15 seconds) and relax. Repeat about 10 times each day. You can rest your back against a solid surface for support.

Kegels: This exercise helps to exercise the pelvic floor muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine, bladder and bowels. To do this exercise, you will need to contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold for about 10 seconds before releasing. Repeat this exercise several times in a day. You can do this exercise anywhere – while sitting, standing, watching TV or even doing your chores.

Squats: These are nothing but the normal squats. However, during pregnancy, your centre of gravity shifts, so you may need extra support. You can perform squats by standing straight against the wall. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart and your arms relaxed on your sides or in front of you. Now gently slide down the wall to a squatting position (with your back straight) until your thighs are parallel to the ground and your knee is aligned with your ankle. Hold for about 5-10 seconds and return to standing position. Repeat 5-10 times.

#5 Plan ahead of labour

It is good to take a tour of the delivery ward a few weeks before your due date. You can also have a chat with the hospital on the logistics they provide when you’re admitted. This will help you decide what you need to do at your end.

Check on the best route you can take to the hospital and where you can park on the D-day. Keep all the emergency numbers at hand and make a note of who will accompany you to the hospital. If you have kids or pets at home, make sure they will have someone to take care of them when you are away.

Postnatal preparations

Things are going to change drastically as soon as your baby pops. The baby will take up most of your time and you will be left with little or no time for yourself or your other chores (even daily chores like bathing, etc.). Being prepared can help you cope with the toughest few postnatal weeks. Here’s what you need to consider:

#1 Couples, align your thoughts

When the baby arrives, it is important to keep your thoughts (as a couple) aligned with respect to distributing the chores, getting help and other such important decisions that will come your way. There are things like feeding/changing/bathing schedules you’ll need to share amongst yourselves.

Then there are other societal obligations like the name of the baby, family traditions, religious ceremonies you may need to conduct, etc. All of these decisions should be discussed and agreed upon before the child arrives so that there is no confusion or distress after the baby is born.

Talk to each other about your plans and desires for the baby. Discuss even the most minute of details (like issues like when you will begin to have a normal sex life, etc.). There will be differences of opinion, but for the sanity of the family, it is important that you both compromise a bit and meet on the same platform.

#2 Prepare the older siblings and pets

Yes, it is very important to let the older siblings know that there’s going to be an addition to the family. Talk to your kids about the baby, try and explain how demanding a new child will be and how you will need to give it a little more attention. You could show them their baby videos for a clearer picture. Even narrating their own baby stories and what you had to do when he/she became difficult could give the older sibling an idea of what to expect.

Prepare yourself on how to deal with the changes your older child may begin to show due to lack of attention. Secure them with someone you trust who can help them with their chores and give them the love and attention they’re seeking while you attend to your newborn.

If you have pets, it is important to train them to get used to having a baby in the house. You can either seek professional help or refer to reliable books, CDs and videos to train your pets at home.

#3 Seek advice from veterans

The one thing that all new moms experience is the free flow of advice. Everyone will have something to tell you about what you should and should not be doing. But it is best to have your own set of confidants.

Talk to experienced mothers you trust; it could be your mom, grandmother, sibling or a close friend. And yes, you need to find a person who can comfort you about all your questions, even the embarrassing ones like leaking urine, postpartum depression and diminished sex drive.

Remember that each child is different and your body will heal differently from others, but knowing what your loved ones experienced can put you at ease, should you face a similar situation after your baby is born.

#4 Arrange for postnatal help

It is very essential for you to delegate the burden of other tasks, especially in the first few postnatal weeks. For most of us, our mothers are the biggest assets in these days. They can support you both physically and emotionally. It will give you comfort to know that the woman you trust the most is beside you when you need her the most.

For some however, having their mothers beside them after childbirth is not a privilege they can enjoy. It is therefore important to make sure someone dependable is there to give you a hand. If having relatives around is not possible, there are confinement ladies who can do the work for you. Hire them at least for the first four weeks, because you need all the rest and support as you recover.

#5 Pack your bag

In between the chaos, the last thing you’ll want to do is pack for your hospital stay. Instead of rushing at the Nth hour, you can pack a few weeks before the due date. Make a list (after checking the hospital logistics) of what you need. Make sure you include all the medical and personal belongings you will need for you and your baby.

Ask the person staying with you at the hospital to pack their bags ahead of time too, to save the last minute hassle. Some things you will definitely need are pads, toothbrush/paste, underwear, nursing clothes, baby clothes, mittens, socks, baby diapers, wipes, sanitisers, etc.

Last but not least, we wish all the mommies-to-be a safe delivery and a wonderful journey of motherhood!