You might have heard that old adage: “Luck comes when preparation meets opportunity.”
Well, you’re in for some luck. Here’s your opportunity to learn how to be prepared for your birthing experience. Of course, as we’ve said before, labor is unpredictable. So while arming yourself with information and techniques can be helpful, it’s a good idea to be open to all the twists and turns that may arise during birth.
HOSPITAL TOUR & ORIENTATION
If you don’t know where you’re going to deliver, there’s a simple way to find out: Ask your OB where he or she has hospital privileges. Once you know, call the hospital and schedule a tour. Along with other expectant parents, you’ll learn about the hospital’s policies and the way they run things, in addition to getting a tour of the labor rooms and the maternity ward.
If you’re interested in taking part in their parent education classes, sign up during your tour or call their education center. Aim to sign up for classes by the end of your first trimester, as classes tend to fill up quickly.
To breathe or not to breathe… that is the question. Some women find childbirth preparation classes (that teach breathing and focusing techniques) to be very helpful. Methods to choose from include Lamaze, Bradley Method, Hypnobirthing, and Alexander Technique. These classes offer valuable information on the stages of labor, the birthing process, and discuss options available for managing pain.
If anything, simply gaining knowledge may give you some peace of mind. And, it’s an opportunity for you to meet and connect with other people who are sharing a similar experience.
Ask your OB or health practitioner for recommendations on these classes, depending on which technique you’d like to use. (See also “Know Your Birthing Options.)
Some new babies take to breastfeeding without any issues. But for some new moms, what seems to be like one of the most natural things in the world can often feel quite unnatural at first. If a baby latches on incorrectly, you could end up with painful nipples, or plugged ducts, and a hungry baby. If you plan to breastfeed, attending one of these classes in advance can help you get educated on the benefits of breastfeeding, the variety of holds, and other basics.
Also, if you decide not to take a class in advance, don’t worry – simply get familiar with the lactation consultants at the hospital where you plan to give birth. Once your baby is born, you’ll be able to request a consultant for help if needed. (See also Breastfeeding 101.)
Don’t you wish babies came with instructions? Taking a class on baby care can help first-time parents feel a little more at ease by knowing a few tricks of the trade.
INFANT & CHILD CPR
Before baby is born, it’s a good idea to take an infant CPR class (it’s different that adult CPR). These classes give instruction on how to administer CPR, as well as tips on how to be prepared in case of an emergency, hints on child proofing, and phone numbers you’ll need to keep handy (such as poison control and the fire department). Bonus: many instructors offer first aid kits (for purchase) that are stocked with all the things you many need for your child in any given situation.
BASIC TRAINING FOR DADS-TO-BE
Many hospitals offer classes tailored just for fathers. These classes address concerns specific to them, such as how to help their partner during labor or how to balance life with a new baby. Often, expectant dads just find comfort in learning that they are not alone.
If you were already a yoga addict, you should be able to safely continue your regular practice. But, be sure to inform your teacher that you’re pregnant so he or she can offer safe modifications on poses as your baby grows. If you’ve just decided to start yoga, most studios, or even your local YMCA, offers gentle classes geared specifically towards pregnant women. It increases, strength, flexibility and encourages deep breathing — all things that are beneficial for your body during pregnancy.
Since Pilates focuses on building core strength, it’s a great way to stay in shape during your pregnancy. Plus, it can help keep those Kegel muscles toned. Sign up with a Prenatal Pilates class, or choose a private instructor who has experience in working with pregnant women. That way, they will know how to modify your workout as your body changes over the nine months.
OTHER PRENATAL FITNESS
Local YMCAs also offer low-impact aerobics classes designed for pregnant women, though remember to make sure your classes are geared toward pregnant women so you are not unsafely twisting and turning or raising your heart rate too high. Swimming is also a great way to keep healthy, as it’s not a weight bearing exercise so it’s very easy on the joints. An elliptical machine or stationary bike can similarly get your heart rate pumping just enough without the extra stress on your bones (but it’s a good idea to invest in a heart rate monitor).
When engaging in an exercise program, make sure you have your doctor’s permission.
And just remember that while many of these classes can be helpful, the real learning will happen once your baby is born. So don’t worry if you’ve never changed a diaper in your life. When your little one arrives, you’ll become an expert in all things baby really fast.
In a nutshell:
- Consider a childbirth preparation class.
- Meet the lactation consultants at the hospital.
- Take an infant CPR class.
- Learn babyproofing tips and important numbers to keep on hand.
- Prenatal yoga increases strength, flexibility and deep breathing.
- Prenatal Pilates builds core strength and tones Kegel muscles.
-Chelsea P. Gladden
A mother of two, Chelsea P. Gladden is well versed in the art of pregnant life. Having worked for Sony Pictures Entertainment for five years as a Web Producer/Programmer/Writer for The Young and the Restless official Web site, Chelsea started freelance writing after the birth of her second child. A regular Cradle contributor, she has also worked on projects for Disney, Disney Radio, Sony Pictures Television, SOAPnet, CBS Daytime and NBC Daytime.