Friday, May 21, 2010

Labor Preparation

After two positive labor experiences, a few people have asked me what I did (if anything) to prepare.

One thing I wish we had done differently was pack our bags for the hospital a little sooner. I had made a list, but it was the kind of list that would be useful to jog my memory, not to tell E Ben what to put in the bags (or where to find these things). We spent a kind-of-uncomfortable 20 minutes with me lying on the bed and him running around saying "What did you mean by 'medications'? Where can I find your nursing bras? What is a nursing pad?". There are a few things that had to wait until the very end, but most of it could have been packed a lot sooner.

Here is a short rundown of things I did while pregnant with Ada:
  • Prenatal Yoga: I took a series of classes at Amrita during the third trimester. The classes were a great opportunity to spend a little bit of time focusing on the coming baby instead of the toddler who was almost always front and center. I think that the stretching and strengthening both helped during labor. I did some yoga videos on my own with Jude, but taking a class which focused on pregnant women seemed to do more for me.
  • Prenatal Massage: I had really bad back pain in the third trimester with Jude, so this time I had a prenatal massage every few weeks (from Angella at Unwind Massage, who is the best, by the way) starting in the first trimester. For the last few weeks of pregnancy, I was going in weekly. I think this made a huge difference in my comfort level and ability to sleep this time. I had some prenatal massages last time at another spa, but Angella's were much better.
  • Swimming: I swam once or twice a week when I could find the time (mostly just in the last six weeks). I think swimming is the best exercise while pregnant, but it is also fairly effortless for me since I'm already a decent swimmer. For someone who finds swimming difficult, this might not be as relaxing.
  • Sleeping Pills: By the time I gave birth to Jude, I was so exhausted from not sleeping well during the third trimester, and that made both labor and the first few weeks a lot harder than they had to be. This time I took half an Ambien pretty much every night for the last two months of pregnancy. This helped so much. I was actually able to sleep at night and get through the days without being completely exhausted. I also think it helped during labor for me to be well-rested.
  • Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: This tea is supposed to strengthen your uterus and make contractions more "focused" (according to this article and others). I drank a cup a day during the third trimester. I also continued to drink a cup a day during the first few weeks postpartum as this is supposed to help reduce bleeding and return your uterus to its normal size more quickly.
  • Evening Primrose Oil: This is another natural labor induction herb which prepares your cervix for labor. I took EPO starting at 37 weeks, beginning with 500 milligrams a day, and ramping up to 2000 mg/day over the course of about a week.
  • Childbirth Classes: With Jude, we took a class at the hospital and didn't particularly enjoy it. This time, I re-read the childbirth book but we didn't take any classes. After all, it had been less than two years since the last time we had a baby, and it didn't seem like much had probably changed in that time. It worked out fine, although on the actual night I wished I knew for sure which floor to go to at the hospital and I also wished that we had done a dry run of where to park. I had to give directions between contractions and that was a little stressful.
Like I said, I don't know if any of these things contributed significantly to my positive labor experience, but I wanted to share before I forgot what I did! I think that there is no harm in trying any of these things, and they may help.

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