The thought of labour can be overwhelming if you are a first time mom, and so you may have a lot of worry and anxiety surrounding this very important event. However, this is the exact time that you should be the most relaxed. The unique and powerful experience that is labour requires all your strength – emotionally and physically – and it’s therefore important to know how to ease anxiety before labour, so that you can have the best possible experience for yourself and your baby.
Be Educated and Prepared
Knowledge is power, and this couldn’t be truer than for a woman about to give birth. Taking ante-natal classes throughout your pregnancy; consulting with a doula/ midwife; and educating yourself by way of books, videos, and forums are all great ways of knowing what you can expect during labour.
Many women also opt to have a birthing plan. This plan will note all your preferences (whether or not you want an epidural etc.) Leave your plan in your maternity bag (along with ID and medical aid card) so that you don’t accidentally leave it behind. Remember that although doctors always need your consent unless it’s an emergency, the actual labour and birth will not necessarily work out as you’ve planned. That’s life! Take a breath and know that everyone is going to do the best for you and baby.
You should also use your last weeks of pregnancy to prepare for the big day wherever possible. Have your maternity bag stocked up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. Other preparations like making meals that you can freeze will be a huge help for when baby arrives and you are too busy being a new mom to cook. These small but significant steps reduce anxiety by giving you a real sense of empowerment.
Practise Labour Relaxation Techniques
Your ante-natal classes should definitely have taught you some effective techniques that show you how to ease anxiety before and during labour. You practitioner may touch on a few different techniques and then it will be up to you which ones work best. Once you’ve found techniques that really work for you, practise them daily so that they become second nature.
Have a Good Support System
Labour is something that you do have to do on your own – technically! But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need all the support and love you can get, both before and after labour. Many women opt to have a birthing partner with them – and this has been proven to be extremely beneficial. Your birthing partner can be anybody from your husband/ partner, to your mom or sister, or a doula or midwife.
Your birthing partner will act as a rock during labour and birth. It is important that you attend at least one ante-natal class together, so that you both know what may be expected. Your birthing party will be a rock, support, and comfort to you so they must be up to the job. Do not force your partner (for example) into it. They may not be up for it, and then you’ll only have their anxiety to contend with too, when you really need all the positive energy you could receive.
Let Go of Expectations
Labour and birth will happen as it happens. Being educated and prepared are very important, but that doesn’t mean that you can control events – especially ones as major as labour. Do not worry if your labour or birth doesn’t go according to what you hoped. You have done all that you can do, you have all the support of trained, medical professionals, and everybody has your and your baby’s wellbeing as priority.
Knowing how to ease anxiety before and during labour means that you can fully immerse yourself in this incredible, life-changing experience that you have been blessed with. Congratulations!