I prepared a lot for this birth. As with all preparation, it’s impossible to prepare exactly the right amount, and this time I over-prepared. However, I knew I had done a lot and that I was ready, and that gave me confidence. In March or April, I blogged about what I had done to prepare. I ended up not doing some of the things I said I would, some of what I did was not helpful, and some of it was tremendously helpful. For the maybe three people who care, let me evaluate my preparation steps.
Hypnobabies was extremely helpful for me. I listened to tracks when I was in my labor and delivery room, and I never could have gone natural without it. I would say it kept me relaxed, calm, and handling contractions very well until about an 8. At that point, I should have switched to rhythm and ritual, or a shower, or massage, or the birth ball, as described in the Birth Partner’s Guide, by Penny Simkin. I thought it was kind of in conflict with Hypnobabies, and, after all, “I always choose to continue using my Hypnobabies tools.” Simkin says that relaxation is important/works until about transition, at which point you can probably stop worrying about it, if it’s not working. I should have stopped worrying about it when it stopped working.
In the last few weeks of pregnancy, listening to Hypnobabies tracks in the afternoon was the best. If I fell asleep, I got a really good nap. If I didn’t, I felt refreshed at the end of the half-hour anyway.
If I had listened to the Hypnobabies affirmations more often, I think I would have been more sane. It’s not a hypnosis CD, you just listen to it when you are doing other things. It says things like, “Pregnancy is natural, normal, healthy and safe for me and my baby.” “I remain calm during my birthing time.” “I accept my pregnant body every day.” “I now feel inner peace and serenity.” It’s good to combat the crazy pregnancy thoughts like, “Aaah!” or “I’m fat!” or “This sucks!” or “I’m never doing this again!” or “If I don’t have that baby today I am going to die!”
I said I was going to create an exercise routine that incorporated yoga positions and strengthening exercises that I liked/could still do, so that I was strong enough to be active in labor. I skipped my daily workout increasingly often at the end, and ended up laying down during most of my labor. But it did some good in keeping me flexible.
I went through the hymn book and found some hymns where the lyrics would be helpful to me, like As Sisters in Zion, Nearer My God to Thee, and I Need Thee Every Hour, and I bought my favorite arrangement off iTunes. I didn’t use it during labor because it was too distracting, but I did use it to go to sleep in the hospital when my brain wouldn’t shut off, and neither would the hospital’s announcements. Which is fine. Sometimes you just gotta announce stuff when you are in a hospital.
I found some scriptures that I thought would be helpful. You know when you are on a run and you have nothing to listen to? All you can think about is how bad running feels at the moment and how you want to stop. I made notecards with the scriptures printed on them, but I never looked at them. I also wrote some philosophies on notecards, which I didn’t look at, but which I thought about sometimes, and they helped. Here are some of those philosophies:
- Imagine this scene: your baby is in heaven, and Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother are saying goodbye to him. He’s going to be gone from them for a very long time and he is going to go through some really tough things. Heavenly Mother especially… she gives him a hug (which I feel too). Then one more. …maybe just one more. Okay, you can go. No! One more…
- Each generation of women between you and Eve gave birth, and each experienced it all. (With the possible exception of your mother and grandmother and great-grandmother.)
- Contractions are steps for your baby from heaven to earth. They are limited. But you must be there with him for every one.
- My notes from a scripture study on fasting, because you can’t eat in the hospital. Fasting is to draw closer to God, to request blessings, to develop greater spiritual strength, to worship God, to exercise faith in Jesus Christ, to energize us spiritually, to strengthen self-discipline, to lighten hearts with joy, to open the windows of heaven.
- This one is important when anticipating labor (but terrible during labor): I am willing to experience all that is before me.
- This one is better suited for labor: You don’t have to do all of labor right now. You just have to do this one contraction right now. You just have to do this one second of this one contraction right now. If you can handle this current second, you’re going to make it.
To pack my hospital bag, I compiled what I learned about comfort measures during labor from The Birth Partner’s Guide and Pinterest pins about what goes in doulas’ bags. (I was kind of preparing to be my own doula… and save $850.) I put it in a large rolling suitcase because I wanted there to be plenty of room. With Heidi’s birth, I remember that getting us all to the car to go home was terrible because there was no room in my bag so we had to carry it separately.
Here’s what I used:
- Pink hand-held travel fan
- Headband (my hair doesn’t all go in a ponytail)
- the corner of my sheet (I wanted something soft to hold, don’t judge)
- Hypnobabies track called “Easy first stage,” I listened to it twice.
- Depends (for birth goo. and for when you don’t feel like getting up. Once again, don’t judge.)
- snacks for husband
Here’s what I did not use:
- towel for the car
- birth ball
- stainless steel water bottle to fill with hot water and roll over my lower back
- sports bra and shorts (hospital gown didn’t bother me at the time)
- toothbrush (for freshening up if you throw up.)
- and mousse (I sent home most of my stuff early with Bryan, and he accidentally took all of that with him.)
The Birth Partner book gave lots of ideas for comfort positions and techniques. I went through them with Bryan so he would know what I was asking for, and so I would know if he felt uncomfortable with any.
The best preparation, however, was my previous two births. 🙂 I reflected on my experiences, and found solutions to my previous problems.
And the best thing that helped me was… a fast labor. I told myself that I could get an epidural after twelve hours in the hospital and after all of our comfort techniques had been exhausted. I only spent five hours laboring in the hospital, and never really cracked open the suitcase.