Here comes baby! Consider this your indispensable guide to prepping yourself in those final days before the birth. Here’s what to check off your to-do list:
Learning to breathe
Maybe just as important as the techniques they teach you in birthing class are the friends you meet. Lamaze class is a great place to connect with other couples with babies the same age. At my class, we saw a few graphic videos, learned a few breathing techniques, and got a bunch of numbers. I’m not sure how much we used the techniques we learned, but going to Lamaze class each week helped me feel as though I was getting more prepared.
Pack it up
That due date has been on the calendar since your first visit to the doctor, and too often we count on that day as if it will really be the day. But unless you’re having a scheduled C-section, it’s more than likely you will have an early arrival or a delayed departure. So don’t panic if it’s a week past your due date. And be prepared a few weeks before, just in case. If you’re planning to give birth in a hospital or birthing center, pack a suitcase so you can feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.
Make sure you have a charged camera ready to go. If you’re planning on snapping those first photos with your smart phone, tuck away a spare charger to make sure you’re not left in a lurch. In the days before your due date, upload your current pictures and clear space on your phone to make certain you can take new photos to your heart’s content.
Also remember the following: makeup, travel sizes of your shampoo and conditioner, toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, travel razor, hair brush, and lip balm.
Things you will thank me for reminding you about: your favorite energy bars, crackers, and bottled juice water; breath mints, and a pair of slippers and cozy socks to protect you from hospital floors.
Best laid plans
By now you may have heard a lot about a “birth plan.” This is simply an outline of how your ideal birth scenario would go. It’s important that your doctor be aware of your desires. I am all for outlining your wishes and working toward making them a reality, but just be prepared that things don’t always go as planned.
Keep in mind that a successful birth results in a healthy mom and baby. Period. Whether you want an epidural, hospital birth, water birth, or natural, get all the facts, do your research, know your options, and talk to your doctor and other moms. Don’t let anyone discourage you or encourage you to go against your instincts. But don’t be afraid or upset if you have to change course. Have your plan; envision what you would like, but keep an open mind. The ultimate goal is to feel confident and prepared for your big day.
Speaking of being prepared
Many doctors and hospitals will encourage you to fill out all of your paperwork and consent forms a few weeks before the big day. The last thing you will want to do as you breathe in and out of contractions is fiddle with insurance information. I wish I’d known of this option. I arrived at the hospital six centimeters dilated, and delivered less than two hours later. I would have signed just about anything at that moment. So if you can, pre-register.
What happens in the delivery room…
Stays in the delivery room! What they don’t tell you in birthing class is that you may poop, pee, or fart while you’re pushing. It’s part of the process sometimes, and your doctor is used to it. Don’t worry or think too much about it if it happens to you. Know this: It is perfectly normal.
You never know how your body or mind is going to react at any given time until you’re put in the situation. Calm, genteel women have turned into cranky lionesses, and you may yell, scream, or say things you don’t mean or later feel bad about. I would issue a simple disclaimer to everyone who is going to witness the “miracle of birth”: It might be laced with a few profanities or some unsightly things, and you are not responsible for what comes out (of either end!).
You may fall in love with your little one at first sight, but be prepared if you don’t— for some new moms, the feeling may take awhile. Lack of sleep combined with the fact that your body is adjusting to a hormonal tidal wave and the loss of the baby inside of you make it natural to feel a little “blue” or out of sorts right after the birth.
Nearly 75 percent of new moms experience the “baby blues,” but don’t worry, it usually goes away after a few weeks, and each month it gets better. If it doesn’t get easier, contact your doctor. It could mean you have postpartum depression; it affects 10 to 20 percent of new moms. If you feel this has a hold on you, talk to your loved ones and doctor. They will get you the help and resources you need to overcome it.
After giving birth, I didn’t feel sad, per se, so much as numb, emotionless. I was diligent about making sure my son had all of his needs met, but I wasn’t feeling that connection. I was a robot or a walking zombie, and this made me feel guilty and confused—why wasn’t I feeling baby bliss? It wasn’t until a few weeks passed that—out of nowhere—something clicked inside me. I still remember feeding him on the couch, looking into those little eyes, and it just hit me—this wave of intense love. I was awestruck and have been ever since. I haven’t told anyone that before, but I am telling you. So if the postpartum discomfort and the emotional stress have you a bit unraveled, be patient. The connection will come, it will get easier and easier, and you will feel more and more bonded. Relax and trust that.
Before this pregnancy journey ends, give yourself credit for making it the best possible experience. You’ve lived through a deluge of information. You’ve survived the old wives’ tales and “good advice.” You’ve created a space for your baby and your partner and rearranged your home. And you’ve taken care of your body and mind. It’s pretty amazing you did it in such a short span of time! So while you’re waiting, why not write down in your journal how this transformation can carry you into the next episode of your life—going from Hot Mom-to-be to a Hot Mom!
Excerpted from The Hot Mom-to-be Handbook by Jessica Denay. Denay is a mom-lifestyle expert and founder of Hot Moms Club. She’s appeared on hundreds of TV shows and in dozens of magazines as an authority on everything “hot” for moms.