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Are You Ready for Labor?
If you are an expectant mother, the thought of pregnancy and labor may stir up many emotions, including joy, excitement, and stress. In fact, feeling a wide array of emotions is completely natural as your expected due date inches closer and closer.
Women giving birth the first time may be especially prone to heightened anxiety. However, whether you’re expecting for the first time or have experienced labor before, every childbirth experience is unique. Thankfully, some thoughtful preparation can help you ease the natural anxiety that can come with pregnancy. Genetic testing can be done through non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) which can screen for trisomy 21, trisomy 18 and other chromosomal abnormalities as soon as nine weeks into the pregnancy. Genetic testing can also reveal the sex of the baby.
In addition to genetic testing, there are things that you can do on your own to become more prepared for labor. These include:
Reading Up on the Subject
For expectant mothers, reading up on information from trusted sources can relieve a substantial amount of stress and anxiety related to the upcoming labor experience. You can learn more about the various procedures that may occur, explore your options when it comes to childbirth techniques, and begin to craft a birth plan you feel comfortable with.
You can find accredited books or explore online resources provided by healthcare providers. Your care team may be able to point you to additional resources that will help you understand and prepare for the process.
Choosing an Experienced Care Team
Choosing the care team that is right for you is an integral part of the pregnancy and birthing process. When choosing a care team, use the knowledge you’ve built about the process to determine exactly how you want the birth to happen, including the location, method, and the care team specialists who will oversee the process. Care team specialists may include:
- Obstetrician (OB/GYN). An OB/GYN is a licensed physician capable of overseeing pregnancy and delivery. They handle both normal and high-risk pregnancies and are well-versed in taking care of the medical needs of a pregnant woman every step of the way.
- Midwife. There are many kinds of midwives, including Certified Nurse Midwives and Certified Professional Midwives. A Certified Nurse Midwife typically works closely with an OB/GYN in a hospital setting. A Certified Professional Midwife often specializes in home births.
- Doula. Many expectant women find that a doula is a beneficial part of the maternity care team. A doula can give emotional and informational assistance throughout the pregnancy and birth process, developing a relationship with you during this time. An experienced doula can help you craft a birth plan, supply support, and advocate for your wishes during birth. It is important to note that a doula should never take the place of a medical professional.
- Genetic counselor. A genetic counselor will communicate complex genetic information during your pregnancy, including describing genetic testing options, breaking down genetic test results into understandable terms, and exploring your options depending on the results.
The Importance of Exercise
Exercise during pregnancy can help prevent weight gain, boost your energy level, help navigate mood swings, and reduce backaches, constipation, and swelling. Most importantly, exercise can help reduce your stress levels and prepare your body for labor.
Common exercise routines for pregnant women include walking, swimming, low-impact aerobic exercises, and yoga. Ask your care team which exercises may be most beneficial to you as labor grows closer.
Also, consider investing in a quality pregnancy support belt if you find it more difficult to exercise when pregnant or if you simply want better support for your baby and spine. A maternity belt can help support your spine, protect your baby, and even help you recover faster after workouts.
Reduce Anxiety With Proper Preparation
If you are an expectant mother, labor can seem like a daunting and anxiety-inducing prospect but feeling prepared can be the best thing to ease your mind in the months before the birth. Begin by discussing your concerns with your care team, then use the measures listed above to ease your mind as birth grows closer.