Having a baby is hard work. I want to help you make it as seamless and manageable as you possibly can! In order to keep your mind at ease and minimize stress and anxiety before heading to the hospital to have a baby, I have listed 25 ways you can prepare for labor and delivery before you go into full-blown labor.
Trust me when I tell you that there are a lot of things to get done at home pre-labor. You'd think that as long as you have some diapers stocked up and a couple of onesies for baby to live in, then you're good!
Well, I wish it was that simple.
Instead, there are lots of ways that you can prepare yourself, your home, and your family for an easier and less stressful labor and delivery experience.
Prepare for Labor and Delivery
Ways to prepare for labor and delivery includes a lot more than figuring out how you are going to physically get through the painful process that is childbirth. The pain of labor is only one of the things that you need to consider when preparing for labor and delivery.
Being a labor and delivery nurse myself, I come in contact with women who've got everything together like it's no big deal and women that are a stress-case trying to figure out what they want and need because they hadn't prepared before hand. Let's see if we can get you in the former category.
I have packed this post full to the brim of resources for you to make preparing for labor and delivery (and beyond) as easy as possible. I hope you utilize each of them and let me know what worked best for you!
1. Take a prenatal Labor Class online
Yep, you guessed it. The first thing on the list is to take an online birthing class.
It's so important to be well informed and educated when it comes to preparing for labor and delivery. It really isn't the best idea to waltz right into labor thinking that media has done it justice and you've probably got this.
Instead, I want you to go into labor knowing that you've got your mind wrapped around this whole child birth thing. I want you to understand what you can expect in labor and delivery, what your options are, and how to manage your labor with your team.
I love the Birth It up childbirth class centered towards a more natural birth experience. Although it is wonderful for any type of birth plan, Leisel is experienced in natural birth and can really help you get the birth you want. This class is conveniently online so that you can complete the class while in your bed eating your dates and drinking your red raspberry leaf tea. Plus, it's super-affordable. Try it out. You can't lose.
2. Catch up on your pregnancy journal
If you've been following along with my blog for any amount of time, you'll know how much I advocate for journaling your pregnancy. You can journal your pregnancy a million different ways. From picking up a spiral notebook at the 99 cent store to buying a hard cover pregnancy journal, as long as you are writing it all down, I'm happy.
When I was pregnant with my first, I loved journaling my pregnancy so much that I created the Ultimate Pregnancy Journal and Planner for my readers. It has to-do lists, checklists, trackers, journal pages, and calendars galore. It's everything that you need for a journal full of special memories that you can cherish forever. Not to mention, it keeps your organized and on top of tasks. You really can't go wrong here.
Make sure you are caught up on your to-do lists and journal entries before you go into labor. Filling out journal pages from pregnancy might be difficult when all you can think about is your labor, birth, and this precious new life in your arms. Get it done now and you'll be happy you did!
3. Create an Important contacts list for labor
Write out a contacts list for you and your partner before labor starts. Yes, I'm sure that you have all of your contacts in your phone, but convenience is key when it comes to contacting your important people in the midst of contractions.
I recommend printing out a couple of copies of an important contacts list for you and your hubby.
Most likely, if you are the one laboring, your husband or partner is going to be the one making most of the calls and sending the important texts.
Make it impossible for your partner to forget to contact one of your important people when the time comes. You might know that he needs to call your provider, the doula, and the birth photographer but one of those might easily slip his mind in the heat of the moment.
Print out your list of important contacts and keep a copy on the fridge, in your labor bag, and possibly folded up in his wallet or something.
As part of The Essential Labor and Birth Workbook, there is a pre-created page for you with a spot for everyone that you'll need to remember on the big day including your provider, doula, birth photographer, babysitter, labor support person and a few more.
4. Write down questions for your Labor and Delivery provider
Hopefully by the time labor is around the corner, you have gotten to know your provider a little bit through your regularly scheduled appointments. You might have even gone over some of your burning questions about pregnancy and labor in the early months of your pregnancy.
But now that labor is going to be here in the blink of an eye, you might want to touch base with your provider again and talk about the specifics of what YOUR labor is going to look like.
Since pregnancy can be unpredictable at times, there is a possibility that things have changed in yours or your baby's health since your first appointment with your provider. The plan might be very different now than what you expected when you first got pregnant.
Make sure that you and your provider are on the same page about your birth plan.
The Essential Labor and Birth Workbook has four pages of questions for your provider that you can print out and take with you to your next appointment to make sure that you don't forget any important conversation points while your in the busy office.
5. Research your Labor and delivery location
A great way to prepare for labor and delivery is to do research on the hospital or birth center at which you will be delivering your baby.
It might seem like “a hospital is a hospital” and it really doesn't matter where you go to deliver, but it actually matters quite a bit.
There are a number of things that might influence where you go to deliver your baby such as what your insurance covers, where your provider has privileges, and whether or not your delivery will be high risk for any reason.
Once you figure out where you are going based on those few indicators, it might still be a good idea to do your research to find out if that hospital is even a good fit for you. What is their C-section rate? Are they a breastfeeding friendly facility?
Don't forget to look over the four pages of “Deciding where to deliver” in The Essential Labor and Birth Workbook before you make your mind up to just go to the hospital right down the street.
6. Tour the hospital that you plan to deliver at
Alright, you've decided on a birth location and you're completely happy with their statistics and their providers available to attend your delivery. Great! But your job isn't quite finished yet.
Once you have decided where you are going to deliver your baby, there are still ways that you can prepare for labor and delivery at that location.
Most birth locations will offer a tour of their facility that you an attend before you deliver. When you go on the tour, you will have the opportunity to look around, visualize yourself in the space, and ask questions about the specifics of what you can expect while you're there.
If you're stumped on what you should be looking for when you tour your birth location, I have provided a plethora of questions that you can ask yourself and ask the tour-guide while you are there in The Essential Labor and Birth Workbook. Ranging from parking and admission to birthing balls and postpartum, there are many questions that you'll want answered before you show up in labor.
7. Do A Test Drive To your birth location
Alright, you're getting closer! You've chosen your hospital, you've gone to the hospital tour, and all of your questions have been answered. You have made some serious progress at this point!
But believe it or not, casually driving to the hospital and circling the parking lot looking for a spot is not what reality will look like when you are laboring in your uncomfortable car.
In order to prepare yourself for what it might be like getting to the hospital in labor, do a test drive with your partner at a couple different times during the day to see how long it really takes. You might want to choose a time of day with high traffic and then another time late at night or early morning so you can see the difference.
During your test drive, make sure you figure out where to park and attempt to find a spot to see how long it really takes.
8. Finalize your birth plan
Now that you've taken your online birth course and you can visualize yourself in the birth space, you have a really good idea about what labor might look like. At this point you can make the most informed and educated decisions about your birth plan.
This is a great time to make the final touches to your birth plan and make sure you and your labor support person are totally on the same page about what you hope for in your childbirth experience.
9. Find a pediatrician
I will admit that I did not do this before I delivered my first baby. It isn't necessarily something you need to stress about unless you have a specific concern that you want to make sure your doctor addresses after birth.
The first couple of doctors that my son saw were just on-call doctors in the hospital and the pediatrician that was referred to me by the hospital staff after delivery. Once I went home, I asked some friends and co-workers what pediatrician they recommended and I made an appointment with her.
On the other hand, if you are getting your child circumcised, expect surgery after delivery, or have other health concerns that you want addressed by someone you know and trust, finding a pediatrician before delivery is essential.
Luckily, the pediatrician that was referred to me marked off all of my must-haves when it came to choosing a pediatrician.
If you need help finding a compatible pediatrician, I have a few pieces advice in The Essential Labor and Birth Workbook.
10. Stock your home with essentials
I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but having a baby isn't all about baby. You're going to need to continue to live your lives indoor home. Surprise! You're still going to need toilet paper. The problem is that you're not going to want to go to a busy, germ-filled grocery store with a newborn baby.
Make sure you stock your home with the essentials that you need to continue running a functional home while there is a newborn baby living there.
Of course, as you would expect, there is a Stock Up on Essentials Checklist included in your Essential Labor and Birth Workbook. Who would'a thought?
11. Stock up on your postpartum essentials
This is so important when you are on the road to prepare for labor and delivery! Many women prepare for labor and delivery and for get about their postpartum needs!
Whether you have an all-natural, unmedicated vaginal birth, an induction of labor with an epidural, or a C-section, you will need tender, loving care in your postpartum period.
In order to make your postpartum recovery at home as smooth and easy as possible, make sure you read my advice on postpartum recovery and then Download Your Free Copy of the Postpartum Recovery Checklist.
12. Stock up on breastfeeding essentials
Similar to the postpartum situation above, many mothers underestimate how much they need to prepare for nursing a new baby.
I was gung-ho about breastfeeding from the beginning of my motherhood journey. I thought that since I was so passionate about it, that it was going to be easy for me. Unfortunately, I needed a lot of help and support before breastfeeding became easy and second nature for me.
These are the breastfeeding essentials that I loved and couldn't have lived without through my year-long breastfeeding journey with my son.
13. Complete your Bringing home a newborn checklist
Preparing for labor and delivery lands really close to preparing to bring a newborn home from the hospital, doesn't it?
Preparing to bring a newborn home from the hospital isn't just about stocking the house. Although, stocking up to prepare for baby is a part of it, there is a lot that goes into making sure you're ready to take care of a baby at home.
14. decide who you want with you during labor
Alright, you're getting down to the wire at this point. You've done some serious work on checklists and to-do lists and you've prepared yourself for what labor is going to look like the best you can.
Now you need to decide who is going to be with you at your side when the time comes.
It's pretty common for new moms to imagine that it would be fun to have all of the attention on them while they are in labor. It might sound like a good idea to let everyone and their mom know where you are and how it's going. When reality hits, you might realize that it's not fun being the circus animal with everyone staring at you waiting for what your body is about to do next. Yikes!
Make sure you read this post about how to manage your visitors in the hospital. It's a must-read when it comes to figuring out what you really want from your loved ones in labor and delivery.
Talk with your labor support about communicating with family & friends
You probably won't be the one doing most of the communicating with family and friends in labor so it's a good idea to let your partner know your desires.
I think that the easiest way to manage who you want, when you want them, and what you want from them is to write it out and get on the same page with your partner.
This subject can get complicated if you want some people to know your status right away and the secret to be kept from others until the baby is born and your tucked away in postpartum.
To keep this part as organized and systematic as possible, The Essential Labor & Birth Workbook provides you with 12 pages of tips, advice, strategies, and worksheets to print and fill out to keep as resources and reminders for you and your partner on the big day.
15. Pack Your Hospital Bag
This needs to be done early, mama. Make sure you start packing your hospital bag by 36 weeks pregnant just in case you find yourself in an unexpected labor situation.
Find out everything that you need in your hospital bag with this important post. If you want to know what this labor and delivery nurse thinks you definitely DON'T need to pack in your hospital bag, check out this post.
When you're ready to get packing, download and print this FREE Printable Hospital Bag Checklist to help you out.
16. Prepare Older Siblings
If this isn't your first baby, you'll want to make sure everything is ready for them before you go into labor as well.
Prepare the babysitter for what to expect when labor happens
First thing first. Who is watching your other kids while you are having a baby? Where will they be? Who will they be with? For how long will you need someone taking care of them? Will you need more than one sitter to switch off at some point?
These are only some of the questions that you need answered before you find that you need a babysitter tonight and don't know who's available for what time period.
Have a backup plan for older children
Plan A is ideal, of course. I'm sure that what you plan for babysitting is going to work out just fine. But what if it doesn't? You need to plan for the worst…just in case! It's smart to have a plan B and C when it comes to labor. We all know how unpredictable it can be. Especially for a mom who's had a baby or two before.
If the babysitter plans fall through or become complicated, make sure you're not freaking out with no other option.
When and how will older children meet the baby?
This is a special decision that you might want to think about ahead of time. Will your older kids come join you during the golden hour? Will they come after you and baby have been cleaned up and tucked in? A third option might be to wait until you are all home together in your safe space before the older kids get aquatinted with their youngest sibling.
Pack overnight bags
While you pack your hospital bags, you might as well throw together a bag for your older kids to take with them to the babysitter's house if they won't be staying home.
In my case, there are a few essential things that my son uses on a daily basis that I can't pack ahead of time. BUT I can pack pull ups, underwear, jammies, outfits, books, a couple toys, and other essentials that I won't miss until labor.
If you can get a bag even partially packed for your kids before labor begins, your job will be a lot easier when you just have to throw in a couple essentials like a pillow and their favorite stuffed animal at the last minute.
17. Prepare freezer meals
As you prepare for labor and delivery, be kind to your postpartum self. Being home with a newborn is difficult in the beginning. You're going to be tired. You're going to be uncomfortable. You probably won't want to cook elaborate meals.
Instead of living off frozen meals from the grocery store or dry snacks from your pantry, prepare some freezer meals for yourself ahead of time.
You can batch-prepare as many freezer meals as will fit in your freezer now so that you can just pull it out and throw it in the oven or crock pot when you're ready for it.
This is advice that I wish I had taken with my first and will absolutely take with my second baby.
18. Make a labor game plan
Alright, mama, you've done it. You've completed most of what you need to do to prepare for labor and delivery. You've done more work than you ever thought it would be to prepare for having a baby, right? What else could there possibly be?
Well, what's the plan?
Yeah, you've got your birth plan locked and loaded but what's the plan. What are you going to do when labor starts?
Let's figure it out.
- When will you start timing contractions?
- When will you call your partner to come home from work?
- At what point are you going to call the babysitter?
- When do you plan to go to the hospital?
- What pain management techniques will you employ at home?
There is a five-page game plan ready for you to fill out in The Essential Labor & Birth Workbook to help you navigate some of these questions.
19. Get dad informed
Like I said, you've done a lot of work. You've been diligently trying to prepare for labor and delivery every day.
What about Dad?
Make sure your partner knows how he can be the best coach he can be for you.
Trust me, you also want him to figure out What Not To Do When Your Wife Is In Labor. This is one of the most popular posts on this website. Most men don't know what to expect when their partners go into labor. This post will assist them in not being a lack-luster partner when you're delivering his baby.
If you want to give your partner some ideas of what he can do to help you while you labor instead of being a lump on a log with no idea how he can make a difference, you'll find the How Dad Can Help pages of The Essential Labor & Birth Workbook important.
Last, but certainly not least, get your hubby to take the SupportingHer course. It is an incredible way to get him ready to be your biggest support on one of the most important days of both of your lives.
20. The Pre-labor to-do lists
Done! I promise, that was it. Wait, but that wasn't the 25 things that were promised to you, right?
At this point, you've done everything you can to prepare for labor and delivery. Now you wait. You can finally rest. I hope that you have time for this part before labor actually starts. For many moms, this point never comes.
Hopefully, you have started the preparation for labor and delivery early and you still have a few days to spare before baby decides to make their grand entrance.
So, then what is this pre-labor to-do list?
Girl, get one last massage. Get your mani and pedi that you'll want while you labor. Maybe you want to see the Chiropractor one more time to get your pelvis in alignment before labor. Do whatever it is that is on your Pre-Labor To-Do List in order to get yourself ready for labor.
Whatever is on the list, don't stress about it. You've accomplished an incomprehensible amount in the last nine months. And you're about to accomplish a whole lot more. Give yourself the rest or pampering that you deserve.
21. Create an early labor to-do list
If this is your first baby, you might not realize how long and slow the early parts of labor can be.
For many new mothers, early labor can take days. Yes, days. You might be uncomfortable. you might be anxious. I'm sure you're more than ready to meet your baby and you just want to get this labor thing going.
But you know that it's not quite time. So what do you do?
There are things that you can do to help your labor, ease your anxiety, and keep you busy while you wait for the real deal.
Instead of heading to the hospital and being sent home 4 times before active labor starts, prepare yourself for a long first stage of labor by helping yourself labor appropriately in the early stage.
I've got an early labor To-Do List prepared for you in the Essential Labor & Birth Workbook that gives you ideas and advice for this period of early labor.
22. Write a letter to your baby
This can be done any time. It can be done once or 50 times throughout your pregnancy.
If you haven't written a letter to your unborn baby yet, I recommend that you write one now. You can write one as you wait for labor or even as early labor begins and you start to get excited for what is to come.
These letters will be priceless memories that you can look back on after you finally meet your sweet baby and even years later when you are finally able to share them with your child.
23. Journal your labor
In the Essential Labor & Birth Workbook, I have provided simple labor journal pages to get you started documenting your labor events you'll want to remember.
It might be beneficial and sentimental to jot down the times that things start happening. When was your first contraction? When did you finally realize that this might be the real thing? At what point did you think that you should contact your doctor? Write it all down and keep a timeline of events that you can look back on and remember when you realize that the whole thing was a blur and your memory isn't serving you.
24. Track your labor contractions
Once you're in active labor and still at home, you can start tracking your contractions.
There really is no need to track your contractions in early labor. If your contractions aren't regular, repetitive, and frequent, tracking your contractions can cause unnecessary anxiety that keeps you from resting.
Once things start getting serious, start jotting down your contraction details so that you'll know when it's a good time to head into the hospital or call your provider.
There's no surprise that along with The Essential Labor & Birth Workbook, you'll get a contraction timer worksheet that you can use throughout your labor before you head to the hospital and also a step-by-step how-to when it comes to tracking your contractions the correct way so that you can accurately communicate with your provider how your labor has been progressing.
25. Take a “last bump pic”
This might be as you head out the door or when you put your hospital gown on for the first time. No matter when you do it, just make sure you take that last picture of your pregnant belly!
First pregnancy? Fifth pregnancy? This pregnant belly is unique and special. It has housed this baby for nine months and you'll never get it back. Even if you get pregnant again in the future, this belly will be only once. Cherish it and take that photo!
Get Prepared for labor and Delivery
You. Are. So. Prepared. Girl, you can do this.
Childbirth is tough. But remember, it's not tougher than you…because IT IS YOU.
I'm so glad that I have helped you prepare for labor and delivery. I'm proud of you and I know that you can get this thing done like a superstar.
How did you prepare for labor and delivery? Let me know in the comments!
What To Read Next:
- The Best Way To Make Your Birth Plan Your Reality
- The Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Hospital Bag: Your Hospital Bag Checklist When You're Having A Baby
- 16 Indispensable Pregnancy and Labor Tips from a Labor and Delivery Nurse
- 13 of the Absolute Pregnancy Tips for First Time Moms
- Dads in the Delivery Room – What Not To Do
- 21 of the Best Breastfeeding Essentials for Nursing Moms
- How To Create a Postpartum Recovery Kit That Every New Mom Wishes She Had After Delivery
- Understanding the Fourth Trimester – Before You Let it Slip Away
- Expect the Unexpected: Preparing Moms for the Newborn Stage
- Breastfeeding 101: What You Need To Know About Breastfeeding Your Newborn