For many women, having a baby is something they have planned and dreamed about for years. It’s not uncommon for women to envision the exact circumstances around the moment their child enters the world.
While it’s important to have a birth plan, it’s also important to remain flexible and be mentally prepared for changes that may come up during labor, says Nicole Giangregorio, manager of Women’s Education at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns.
“You’ve anticipated the birth of your child for the past nine months or longer. So when the time comes and things don’t go exactly as planned, it can lead to feelings of disappointment, failure and even perinatal mood and anxiety disorders such as postpartum depression and anxiety,” says Giangregorio.
In an effort to avoid these negative feelings after birth, Giangregorio provides four tips for expectant moms about what to be prepared for during labor:
- Labor is not an exact science.
Unfortunately, there is no clear evidence that points to why labor begins. While there are sequential stages of labor, exactly how it will unfold remains a mystery. Staying flexible, and trusting your own body and health care team will ultimately lead to the best birth experience for you.
- Your labor may progress faster or slower than you anticipated.
In some cases, labor may progress so rapidly that there isn’t time for an epidural as planned. In other cases, labor may progress very slowly. It’s important to know that birth will be unique — each and every time.
- You may need to change your approach to pain management.
There are many ways to manage pain during childbirth, and some will work better for you than others. Let your providers and support people know what’s working best, whether it’s walking, massage, changing positions, using a birthing ball or showering. If one method is no longer working, consider trying something else.
- There may be complications that require medical intervention.
Our care team works with moms to honor birth plans as closely as possible, but occasionally there are complications that arise that require adjustments to ensure the health and well-being of mom and baby. Our patients’ safety always comes first.
Giangregorio reminds moms that childbirth is a partnership with your support people and caregivers. Talking to your doctor before going to the hospital and remaining open to the unexpected will ultimately provide you with the best possible experience.