New Job Application
Giving birth to a baby and becoming a parent is like jumping into a new job and very quickly learning how to sink or swim. If you were to apply for a new job you may wish to do some preparation work before the big day and this is how I approached going to antenatal classes. You want to have a look into the company and what the job description is (like learning more about what happens to your body during childbirth and getting some more pointers for breastfeeding etc). You might have a look at the company staff and the building they are located in (like knowing how the maternity staff will help you, options for birthing rooms ie water births & the other facilities at the hospital you will be attending). Then ending your prospective job preparation with weighing up the pros and cons of this new position (like looking at your birth plan, knowing about pain options and what you may find difficult or easy as you become a new mum).
Curriculum or KPIs
Antenatal classes are kind of like your induction for the role that you are about to perform-child birth and becoming a parent. These information packed classes give you a blow by blow about what happens at every step in the later stages of pregnancy and the ins and outs (pun intended) of the labour process. For some people it’s all a bit too much and for others it’s a great way to learn about it all. Most of us sit somewhere in the middle, like myself with my ignorance in thinking that I have a few nieces, I’ve heard some stories, skimmed through a book and somehow I know the basics! Then you arrive, are handed a class schedule and you read some very foreign words like meconium, mucus plugs, stretch and sweeps and you start thinking…I’m not sure this was the job I applied for!
I found it nice to surround myself with other mums, to be and to watch weekly as they steadily expanded and swelled into an uncomfortable blob much like myself. I enjoyed hearing about why the changes were happening to my body and I found the whole labour explanation quite fascinating (although very graphic! ). My partner and I were able to ask and answer questions amongst a supportive group of peers and open up about what our expectations were pre and post birth. It was nice to hear that similar fears where shared throughout the group and then talk these through in bite size pieces. It was also great to learn some more practical skills like swaddling and changing a nappy.
Signing the Contract
I would highly recommend going to some sort of antenatal class if you are first time parents. Take the time to invest in learning more about what will happen, ask all the crazy questions that come to mind, why it happens and management plans. It’s also a chance to really touch base with your partner, build a stronger connection as a team and to be around individuals who are dealing with the same issues, in a safe environment. Having a baby and being a parent are both hands on roles and you do learn as you go but if someone was to give you a little bit of advice before you went to that job interview and it made the world or difference, wouldn’t you like to hear it?
As the final stages of pregnancy creep up on you, much like those swollen ankles, you know it’s time to start thinking about the arrival of this baby. I’ll never forget sitting in my antenatal class and having our teacher passionately describe how women have been birthing babies for thousands of years. How it’s such a natural process for the female body to contort and stretch for this very purpose. When I look back at my labour I would agree that it is a miraculous event and my body adapted very well but it didn’t go exactly to plan and holy moly was it painful!
It’s all written in the word isn’t it? Labour.....meaning exertion, struggle, hard work and it is! Have a chat with your partner, OB or midwife about what is really involved during birth and have a loose birth plan – think about;
- What type of birth do you want- water birth, natural, laying down, or resting on a fit ball?
-What tools will aid you ie music, oils, breathing techniques, tens machine?
- What type of support will you require from your partner ie pep talks, holding your hand, strong & silent, giving you a blow by blow as it happens, no touching at all?
-What pain relief is available and are there any side effects for the baby?
-What will happen if I need a cesarean and what does that recovery post baby look like?
Here’s hoping everything runs smoothly but in the case your baby needs some extra support post birth, it’s important to know what you and your partner want to do. We decided should bub need to leave my side for any reason, my partner would follow at all times, I felt more comfortable knowing this.
This will be an experience where you won’t know what to expect but you can be informed and have asked questions beforehand to help feel comfortable. Your midwife or OB will generally ask what your birth plan looks like so they can cater to you but please remember to be flexible. I had every intention of having a natural water birth and in the end I found the bath offered no relief and that gas was not sufficient enough to relieve the pain. I found the tens machine worked really well in redirecting my brains pain receptors but I did end up having an epidural that did not relieve me completely of pain (no one had told me that epidurals don’t always work) but definitely took the edge off. I knew myself enough to know when I needed extra assistance in the form of pain relief and I was able to continue with my intended plan and give birth to a beautiful baby.
Let’s face it, giving birth is a heroic feat and it will test you and your partner’s determination and strength but what an amazing sight it is to see this beautiful baby at the end of all your hard work.
Remember to be informed and aware and follow your plan but be flexible about adjusting it to suit the needs of you and your bub. Enjoy it, as much as it is the hard part, be in the moment and communicate with your partner and support team. You are not in this alone, there is a tiny being ready to be glued to your side for the rest of your life. Good Luck x
It took me a while to pack my hospital bag in preparation for my babies arrival, much to the annoyance of my partner. I am normally quite organised but the reality of a life with a baby didn’t really sink in until the last few weeks or my pregnancy. I found my antenatal classes helpful for the basics reminders like pyjamas that button up the front, socks (because its cold in birthing suites) but I was not very prepared for what I REALLY needed or what this hospital stay would entail.
Here are my top 5 must haves for first time or returning mammas- both practical and personal.
- Maternity Pads
If you have a natural birth and believe that some large pads from the supermarket will suffice after labour…..you would be mistaken. I was so shocked at how much you bleed after giving birth and in the many weeks to follow. So please invest in a stash of maternity pads as there is nothing worse than running out. New Beginnings has some great maternity pads which I found to be the perfect size and shape.
- Maternity Bra’s
Please remember to have purchased your maternity bra’s (you will need more than one) and to bring them to hospital. You will need these as soon as your baby arrives and they will become your new best friend- providing support and a modest covering in your maternity room with its ever revolving door of visitors and nurses.
Don’t forget to bring creature comforts from home that make you feel fresh and clean ie deodorant, face wipes, moisturiser, body wash, soap etc. It was one of the best parts of my day when I could leave my partner with the baby and have a peaceful shower and wash my hair. It’s a lovely time when you can let sink in the great miracle that you have just created. And after your shower when reality sets in and you’re looking in the mirror thinking ‘wow I look tired’ the best go to miracle – a touch of mascara.
- Personal Items
I found a few other items useful like thongs for the hospital shower, multiple changes of clothes, muslin wraps for the baby, a supply of dummies if you choose to use them, nappies, as the hospital I went too didn’t provide these, water bottle to refill etc.
Finally I need to make mention to pack yourself some snacks from home. A lot of fuel is needed for your body to produce breast milk and adapt to the needs of your baby. It’s also very important for the production side of breast feeding to drink loads of water. I had a supply of muesli bars, crackers, nuts and fruit and my partner did the mandatory post baby sushi run for me! I loved this period of eating all I could and not having to worry about counting the calories, so enjoy ladies!