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I am in my 6th month and carrying a baby boy. I started childbirth classes and they are going great. What else can i do to help me get through labor?”
Have you taken a hospital tour yet? Most hospitals host Labor and Delivery tours for expectant parents a few times a month. You’ll find out where to park, how to sign in, how the hospital will admit you, what their policies are on visitors, what the delivery rooms and recovery rooms look like. You can ask what kind of pain relief they offer– how long might it take to get an epidural after you request one? Do they have alternative pain relief supplies, like birth balls, warm compresses, birthing tubs or TENS machines? What’s their c-section rate?
It also can help to use a doula or labor assistant, who will also be able to meet with you before labor to explain what labor will be like and suggest positions and techniques to deal with contractions. Some doulas are licensed massage therapists, too.
Writing a birth plan can also help you think through labor. Do you want an epidural right away, or do you want to try alternative techniques first? Who do you want in the room with you? Do you plan to breastfeed and keep the baby in the room with you, or do you want the baby taken to the nursery for your recovery? Thinking it through and talking over options with your hospital, doctor and labor assistant will help you develop a plan for your labor. Labor doesn’t always go according to plan, but there are things you can do to help shape how your experience will be.
It might also be helpful to take a parenting class and/or baby lifesaving class- the Red Cross, YMCAs and the hospital where you plan to deliver may offer them. You’ll learn what to do if the baby chokes, has a seizure, stops breathing and so on– information that you hopefully will never have to use but is good to have.
And exercise is (almost) always a good idea– walking, swimming or prenatal yoga are all gentle ways to stay active, and staying active can help you have a shorter, safer and more comfortable labor.