Baby, Pregnancy, and Parenting Information

How to Prepare for Labor

by Danielle Hollister
BellaOnline

Although nothing anybody says can ever completely prepare a woman for the day she delivers her first baby, there are some simple suggestions that should help make this amazing experience a little bit easier.

First of all there are three very honest realities about childbirth that your doctor, mother, grandmother, and maybe even your best friend will probably not tell you.

  1. Unless you have an exceptionally carefree attitude about life in general, you will be shocked if and when your water breaks.
  2. Unless you have an extraordinary ability to see into the future, you will be scared to death during the first hour or so of labor.
  3. Unless you have an extremely high tolerance for pain, you will feel excruciating, seemingly unending waves of pain.

These simple facts come from personal experience and are not intended to instill unnecessary fear. Each woman’s experience is different, so not all details will apply to everyone.

But if you take the time to consider options to prepare yourself for that big day, you may benefit by being as ready as anyone can possibly be for the consequences of childbirth.

Believe this much for sure, you will appreciate almost any helpful hints you can remember when you realize you’re going into labor. Most pregnant people will find the following recommendations valuable for reducing stress for you and your labor partner on the day you deliver your first baby.

  1. Pack your bag to take to the hospital at least a month in advance. Nobody can positively predict your exact due date and your baby is actually the person who decides when your delivery will occur.
  2. Make a checklist for what you want to take. You should definitely include: a mirror and your makeup bag (believe it or not when you’re not staring at that little miracle in your arms, you will want to look at yourself especially when the parade of visitors start marching into your hospital room); two or three nightgowns (preferably comfortable ones that provide optimal coverage of your post-pregnancy physique); a hair brush and hair dryer (every hospital has showers, soap, and towels); an outfit to wear home from the hospital (and don’t choose cute little pre-pregnancy clothes because nobody loses the weight they gained in nine months immediately after giving birth and it will only annoy you if you can’t fit into the only outfit you have to go home in)
  3. Have a list of phone numbers of the people you can call anytime of the day or night for help. (Don’t even try to handle it alone – YOU WILL NEED AND WANT HELP when this exciting, emotional event begins to occur.)

There’s several signs that labor has started. Warning signals vary from woman to woman. Some people know what it is the second it hits them, while others may not recognize what’s happening for hours. Don’t expect the promises or predictions made by medical professionals or even experienced great-grandmothers to actually come true for you. In most cases some combination of destiny and mother nature determine the details of your long-awaited delivery. Some simple indicators that you’re going into labor range from a mild backache to piercing stabs of pain and vary from a feeling of general discomfort to an abrupt release of water.

Follow your instincts
If you don’t feel right, but you’re not screaming in pain, call your doctor. If something suddenly takes your breath away, makes you feel faint, breaks you down to the floor or wakes you in the middle of the night, forget the doctor, stay as calm as possible and call for whomever can come to help you the fastest.If your water does break in the stereotypical way, gushing uncontrollably all over the place, don’t freak out. Maintain your control as much as humanly possible at this point and realize you cannot stop this rushing release running like a river out of your body. You can keep putting towels between your legs to try to soak it up, but your shorts or sweatpants are still going to get wet.

Don’t worry about what other people will think about your dripping drawers when you get to the hospital. You’re about to deliver a baby -you’re not supposed to look calm, classy, elegant or graceful! Just concentrate on getting to the hospital safely. You may feel like you’re in the middle of an earthquake that will surely destroy the entire planet and assume everyone else will realize the urgency of this occasion. But they probably won’t react with any alarm because the reality is your world is the only place that has been hit by this tidal wave of emotional trauma.

What to expect when you get to the hospital…
To wait and wait some more; to fill out forms; to find yourself pacing the halls until they assign you to a room; to see other women in similar situations; to be told your doctor has been delayed; to scream at your labor partner when he forgets what to say and what not to say to try to make you feel better; to forget something on your checklist and to deal with the labor pain getting worse before it gets better.

What not to expect when you arrive at the hospital…
Everyone to accommodate you; everything to occur as you planned; any immediate results; everyone to be organized; your labor partner to be perfect; to find friendly faces among the other pregnant people; to hear your doctor tell you to start pushing your little miracle out as soon as he examines you; to get painkillers prescribed in mere minutes; and to be able to remember all the things you learned to try to prepare for this day.

Other Do’s and Don’t's:
Do try to maintain your focus.

Do try to preserve your precious energy (You will need it especially if you happen to be one of those poor souls whose pregnancy just won’t end and your labor lasts for longer than a day or two)

Don’t hesitate to tell your doctor or nurses exactly how you feel.

Don’t hesitate to ask any question that pops into your head.

Do listen to what your doctor and nurses tell you.

Do listen to what your body is saying.

Do listen to what you’re feeling in your heart.

Do listen to what your labor partner is commanding you to do.

Don’t forget how long you waited for this day to arrive and how special this date will be to you forever.

Don’t forget how much you want this little baby to arrive healthy and what a blessing this tiny person will always be to you.

And finally trust your gut instincts, your doctor’s words of wisdom, your partner’s suggestions to soothe you and your ears when you hear the sound of your baby’s first cry announcing his official arrival into this world.

The rest of this incredible experience will probably proceed with no major problems, following the same intense, phenomenal pattern of the billions of births that occurred before the day of your delivery.

Believe it or not, no matter how much the pains of labor torture your pregnant body or how many hours the process takes before your first baby actually bounces into this world – you will forget about how much your killer contractions hurt and how time seemed to standstill as your labor lasted and lasted and lasted…

Also believe your life will never be the same from this day on. Your new job as a mommy will be the most rewarding, most exhausting, and most challenging career of your life. Nothing in the universe can begin to compete with the passion, love, and wonder you’ll experience as you watch this tiny person grow and you feel like he’s really your own heart and soul with little arms and legs.

Treasure every moment of the miracle of motherhood.


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4 Responses to “How to Prepare for Labor”

  1. 4
    Melinda Says:

    I was disappointed in the tone of this article. In parts, it makes it sound as if labor and childbirth frightening and painful, and that is not universally true. Telling a woman not to freak out is like anticipating that they will. (I’ve had five babies.) Less pressure on oneself = less anxiety.

  2. 3
    Alexis Says:

    Number 2 is not true for everyone. My best friend was 15lbs light after giving birth than before she became pregnant. She had lost a lot of weight the first 3 months, She listened to simmilar advice and the clothes where way to big. Because of this I plan to pack both “normal” clothes and bigger clothes.

  3. 2
    Packing for the Hospital | Pregnancy | Babies Online The Blog Says:

    [...] I packed my bag the first time around, I went a step beyond simply preparing for labor. In fact, there was little I didn’t bring along. Not only did I have an iPod docking station, but [...]

  4. 1
    Mood Swings | Health | Baby, Pregnancy, and Parenting at Babies Online Says:

    [...] the third trimester, as the impending labor draws near. For first time mothers, the thought of labor and being completely in charge of another human being’s survival and happiness can cause fear [...]

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