If you’re reading this now, you’re probably well into your 3rd trimester of pregnancy. So congrats on making it this far! You’re so close to meeting your precious little one and they will be here before you know it.
At this point, labor is imminent. This is probably making you feel anxious, worried, scared, excited, hopeful, and so many more emotions.
I was always told that by the time you get this late in pregnancy you won’t worry about childbirth because you’ll want to do whatever you can to get that baby out of you! However, I didn’t have that feeling at all. I was still so nervous
Although you won’t be able to fully prepare yourself for your specific situations, here are some ways to help ease your mind and make you as ready as possible for when the time comes. Read my other post on 35 Things That All Expecting Moms Should Know About Childbirth
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15 Things to Do To Prepare Yourself For Childbirth
Here are some things you should get done in your third trimester to prepare yourself for labor and delivery. Below that you will find
Related Post: Things You Should Not Worry About During Pregnancy
1. Pack your Hospital Bag Early
Whether you’re going to a birthing center or hospital, make sure your overnight bag is packed by 36 weeks. Of course earlier than that can’t hurt, but you want to be best prepared in case you go into early labor.
You’ll be staying there for 2-3 nights, so you’ll want to include everything you need so you don’t have to make any trips back home.
From making yourself cool and comfortable during labor, what to wear post-delivery, and helping to ease the transition into breastfeeding, you’ll need several items in your overnight bag.
Some of my essentials include:
- a robe
- hair ties
- flip flops
- Nursing pillow/My BreastFriend
- Ameda ComfortGel Pads (for sore nipples)
- phone charger
- newborn, zip-up,
- SwaddleMe Velcro Swaddle
- Mam pacifier
There are many more items to list. Read my full post on What To Pack In Your Hospital Bag for all the necessary essentials you don’t want to forget.
2. Don’t assume you will go past your due date
If I had a nickel for every time someone said, It’s your first pregnancy, you’ll be late, I’d be rich! However, I was not late.
For my first, I was 5 days early and the second was 2 weeks early! You never know when that baby is going to come. That’s why you need to be prepared well before your due date.
3. Know the signs of labor
Those last few weeks of pregnancy are filled with anxiousness over when you will actually go into labor. You might think every little cramp is labor contractions, but if it’s not that intense, it probably isn’t.
At your final appointments, your OB or midwife should go over the signs of labor and when to give them a call. Be sure to ask as many questions as possible.
Every woman experiences labor differently so it’s tough to say exactly what you will feel. However, you WILL KNOW when you’re in labor.
The actual active labor period will give you contractions at equal intervals (every 9 minutes, 7 minutes, 5 minutes, etc) and they will literally take your breath away. It’s a pain that’s pretty intense that you may not be able to walk or talk when it happens. That’s when you know!
Download a contraction timer app like Full Term to start timing your contractions as soon as they start. Once they reach 3-5 minutes apart, you want to get to the hospital quickly.
4. Gather your postpartum essentials
After delivery, your lady parts will most likely be very sore. You just pushed a watermelon-sized baby out of there, so that’s to be expected!
There are some items that you want to have readily available to help you heal and feel comfortable after childbirth. Some of my essentials to stock up on are:
- Heavy maxi pads
- Seamless, stretchy briefs
- Stool softener
- Tucks pads
- Ameda ComfortGel Nipple Pads*
- Lanolin cream
- Silicone, suction, breast milk manual pump
- Tummy-Control Leggings
*One of my favorite postpartum products was the Ameda Comfortgel Pads. I experienced terrible nipple pain during the first couple weeks of nursing and these helped immensely!
View my full post on Essential Items for your Postpartum Kit here for full details.
5. Try prenatal yoga
During my last few months of pregnancy, my body was getting so uncomfortable. My muscles and joints felt so tight because I was moving a lot less and the baby was putting a lot of pressure on my legs and pelvic region.
Doing prenatal yoga helped immensely to get me moving and stretching the areas that restricted my movements. I took a local class which also helped me to meet other expecting moms while giving me the ability to get my body feeling more comfortable.
Prenatal yoga has so many benefits to help you prepare for labor. Not only does it make your body feel good, but you should learn breathing techniques and natural, pain-relieving techniques for labor.
Check out google or social media to find local yoga studios that offer prenatal yoga or even search on Youtube if you’d like to try out some poses in the comfort of your own home.
Related Post: How I Managed the Pain During 4 Natural Childbirths
6. Get your body prepared
By the final weeks of pregnancy, you’ll be ready to get that baby out any way possible. Late in your third trimester, you may want to start getting your body prepared for labor.
There is no hard scientific research that proves that these methods will work to dilate you faster, but they may help to ripen your cervix.
If you’re in your final weeks or overdue, these may help your body prepare or induce labor if that’s what you’re trying to do:
- stay active
- bounce on an exercise ball
- have sex
- drink raspberry leaf tea
- eat dates
- take evening primrose oil capsules
- nipple stimulation
- spicy foods
- prenatal yoga
Most of these products or methods will not actually PUT YOU into labor. So you don’t have to worry about going into early labor by using these techniques.
Your body will know when it is ready so these things may just help it along.
7. Pre-register at your delivering hospital/birthing center and take a tour
Some expectant mothers may be able to choose the hospital that they wish to deliver. However, most of the time, this is pre-determined by your physician’s practice.
It’s a good idea to take a tour of the hospital or birthing center before it’s time to give birth. It may help to reduce some anxiety once you have seen the labor and mother-baby units, in order to:
- Get to know the layout: where to park, where to enter if it’s a weekday or after-hours, and how to get to the maternity ward
- Find out what resources are available: lactation consultant, level III nursery, NICU, refrigerator in the postpartum unit, hairdryer, vending machines, cafeteria, etc.
- Learn about visitation policies: how many visitors are allowed in the room during delivery or after birth
- Explore class options: childbirth, breastfeeding, baby care, seminars/support groups on specific cases like twins, NICU moms, babies with special needs
- Find out what is available for labor and delivery: birthing balls, fans, water tub, squat bars, fetal monitoring, television, epidural criteria, etc.
- Meet the Staff: may be different nurses, but could give you more peace of mind
- Familiarity: see what the rooms are like that you will be staying in and get a feel for the hospital
- Ask q
Visiting the hospital also gives you a chance to ask questions to the staff and nurses. They will typically give you their protocol for generic situations both during labor, delivery, and postpartum.
You will want to pre-register at the hospital to reduce the time it takes you to fill out all the necessary paperwork during labor.
It also provides the hospital with an idea of how many women could potentially be going into labor at a given time. This can help to guide their staffing and equipment needs during certain periods.
8. Have a plan for getting to the hospital
Work out a plan with your partner, parents, neighbors, or whoever will be close by to take you to the hospital. Go over scenarios if it happens in the middle of the night, weekend, or while you or your partner are at work.
When I went into labor, my husband was over 2 hours away. I was glad we had a plan in place if we weren’t together.
It’s even more crucial if you have other children who need to be picked up, dropped off, or taken care of while you get to the hospital.
9. Take a childbirth class
Childbirth/Lamaze classes are typically offered through your hospital, prenatal yoga studio, or local provider. You can ask your physician or midwife for suggestions or look through Facebook/Google/Instagram at professionals offering classes.
These types of courses help you to prepare for labor and delivery, teach you options to help make informed decisions, and give you techniques and strategies to push your baby out properly while managing the pain.
There are a variety of techniques that are taught in order to excel at childbirth. Read further here on specific methods that are available to you and how to find a local provider.
A labor/childbirth class should be taken as close to your due date as possible so you don’t forget the information given. Take notes if you have to, but don’t wait until too late, just in case you go into early labor!
10. Learn the stages of labor
Get informed about labor so you know what to look and feel for when the time comes. This is usually taught in-depth in a childbirth class.
There are 3 stages that are broken down even further to separate phases. Each phase is characterized by different physical signs and symptoms.
Learn more specifics about stages of labor from the American Pregnancy Association here.
Being knowledgable about how your labor will progress should help you to feel less stressed and more confident in the situation.
11. Educate yourself and prepare for the unexpected
There is so much information out there that can help you stay informed. It’s your job to do the research and know about the childbirth process.
You’ll want to read as much as you can because doctors don’t really give you too much detail about the labor and delivery process. Unless you’re asking specific questions (which how would you know if you don’t learn about it?), they’re not giving you enough information.
Even birthing classes won’t completely prepare you, but you will probably go into labor being more confident.
However, when the actual time came, I forgot everything I learned in classes and read online. It all just escaped my mind because I was just focused on the health of myself and my baby.
12. Create a birth plan
This isn’t a necessary step for childbirth, but some women may want to have one in place.
During and immediately after labor, you’re not in the best mental state to make decisions that you chose for yourself beforehand. Make sure you lay it out to your partner and nursing staff at the hospital or birthing center.
The best way to do this is to prepare a written birth plan ahead of time to give to the staff as soon as you come in.
Jena from Live Core Strong has a great customizable birth plan that will walk you through how to create one and everything you need to include. This goes for breastfeeding, as well as your whole labor and delivery experience.
Make sure you write down
I’ve given birth at 2 separate hospitals and they were both very different experiences. During my second birth experience, the nurses were not at all helpful!
It’s a good thing I had already been through it and I did my research, so I knew what I needed to do with my baby immediately after birth. You never know what your experience will be like so that’s why it’s smart to educate yourself and not rely on the hospital staff to be your advocates.
13. Prepare for any birth announcement photos or videos
The moment after your baby arrives, you’ll probably be wanting to call and text friends and family to let them know the good news. Everyone will surely want a photo of your brand new baby to go along with it!
You may want to wait until you get a good shot of them instead of sending any photo. Now is the time to get some ideas
I chose to announce my baby with the photo above. I made a DIY wooden sign (with instructions here), placed my own muslin blanket around the cushion of the hospital bassinet, swaddled him up, and used a good photo filter app.
I thought it looked much cuter than some of the typical birth announcement photos with the basic hospital blankets.
Related Post: Simple DIY Wooden Hospital Birth Announcement Sign
14. Educate yourself on what happens immediately after birth
When you’re pregnant, you’ve probably heard a ton of childbirth stories and the specifics of labor and delivery. Contractions and pushing
However, not too often do people talk about the recovery of childbirth and the few minutes and hours after a baby is delivered (probably because they don’t want to scare you).
I wish I knew more about what to expect during the moments after delivery Read my super detailed post, 29 Things About the Moments After Delivery That All Expecting Moms Should Know, so you’re well-informed before going into labor.
15. Try not to stress
Easier said than done, I know. However, be positive that you are in the best hands with your care and everything will happen as it should!
. . . . .
In your third trimester, you want to get all the last minute things done to prepare for childbirth and get ready for the new baby. Follow the list of tips and ideas above, and you should be all set for labor and delivery.