Eight smart ways to prepare for labour
For two mothers preparing for the birth of their daughters began from the moment they heard they were pregnant.
Shamiso Chaibva of Kensington in Johannesburg and mom of three-month old Ruvenego, said she and her partner had always spoken about a birth plan which included giving birth naturally and she was looking forward to the experience. Having her first child at 35 also meant that she would prioritise exercise and eating healthy to eliminate any possible complications of giving birth at that age.
Vuyo Dlamini from Orange Grove is currently pregnant with her first child and says she and her husband have been involved in preparing for labour from day one.
Doulas or birth guides are becoming more popular among expectant mothers. They can be hired to provide guidance and advice during pregnancy and during labour they can offer techniques to eliminate fear with tips on breathing, pushing, maintain a positive attitude and relaxing your muscles and bodies.
Conversations with other moms and your baby
Vuyo said she knew that a natural home birth was going to be her choice because she had visited hospitals and was put off by the environment because she felt it wasn’t comfortable. To prepare for labour she has asked her mother and close friends about their experiences.
“Hearing about how my mother birthed me and how she brought me into the world has been empowering. I’ve also been having conversation with my baby and I tell her how I imagine the day I go into labour to be and how it’s going to be team work. These thoughts fill me with positivity and take the fear of pain away,” says Vuyo.
“Doing things around the house such as spring cleaning, preparing the nursery and being conscious while doing the tasks has really filled me with excitement instead of fear,”adds Vuyo.
To keep your body agile and flexible, exercise during pregnancy is recommended. Having a fit pregnancy can contribute to easing your body for the labour process.
“I exercised and continued with my normal gym routine until I was five months pregnant. Then I started a specific routine called preggi bellies. Squats also helped to prepare me for labour and sitting on a pilated ball really got my balance right,” says Shamiso.
Shamiso says she ate large portions of fruits and vegetables to provide her with a good dose of natural vitamins and minerals. Her energy levels were also sustained by following a healthy diet.
“I ate a lot of okra. I was also meant to take some during labour at 4 inches (induction) but my labour progressed too fast and I didn’t get the chance. I also ate mangoes, watermelon, pineapple and other fruits.”
These classes prepare you for birth by thoroughly briefing you on what to expect during a natural or C-Section birth. Attending with a partner is encouraged to share the whole preparation process.
“Mentally the antenatal classes gave us a realistic view of what to expect. I was taught breathing techniques which help you to push at the right times without exhausting or finishing your energy.”
When you fall pregnant frequent check-ups will give you peace of mind. A birth plan will be discussed with your doctor and with each check-up you will be advised if you are still on course for the birth plan you have chosen.
Visit a few hospitals to see where you will be giving birth. By familiarising yourself with the maternity ward, you can begin mentally preparing yourself and visualising the birth process. Vuyo says that she decided after visiting a few hospitals that the environment was not for her.
“I really want to be in a safe, comfortable atmosphere. I want a drama free labour and to be given the space to do it my own way at my own pace, at home,” she says.
10 Essential things to check off before baby arrives
We’ve compiled an ultimate checklist of what you need before baby comes home.
Your baby will spend quite a bit of time in their car seat so invest in a strong, quality car seat which is durable and will fit him as he grows.
Some parents prefer having two strollers one for outings and one for indoors. Choose according to your personal preference and requirements.
If you are opting for a crib then ensure it has a mattress, sheets, light blankets and a heavier blanket for cold days. Add toys and accessories according to your personal preferences.
The baby’s nursery should be set up and contain everything that baby needs such as clothing, the crib, toiletries and accessories.
Blankets and sheets should be ready and picked according to the season.
A baby bath, shampoo, baby soap, towels and brushes are all items that you should have stocked up on.
Have more than five of these ready because baby will need one for each feeding.
From onesies, socks, hats, booties, vests to pants, dresses and suits for formal occasions, pack your baby’s cupboard so you know exactly where to find everything you need.
Have you baby proofed your home? Burglar bars, locked cupboards and placing furniture and ornaments out of reach are simple ways you can get ready for the new addition to your family.
Get a waterproof baby changing mat that you can also easily pack it into the car to take with you when travelling on the road.
Five amazing facts about the second trimester
At 13 weeks your baby is growing rapidly and your belly is becoming more pronounced. The second trimester brings with it even more amazing experiences as your bundle of joy is now the size of a plum.
Your baby is covered from the tip of her head to the bottom of her feet in lanugo, fuzzy hair that protects her skin and keeps her warm while she is in the amniotic sac. During the third semester, lanugo disappears and your baby’s skin then evens out.
Facial expressions such as smiling, blinking and frowning are now apart of your tot’s daily habits. She can now react to sounds and light. During the second trimester your baby is also practising her very own unique smile.
This is when your baby isn’t just a tiny blob growing in your womb that you can’t feel because now your baby will start to make his presence felt. He will begin moving and you will feel butterflies, a wonderful light feeling that will catch you by surprise.
Your body begins to settle into the pregnancy and you feel more comfortable as nausea and fatigue subsides considerably in the second trimester. This means that you will have more energy and be able to go about your daily tasks without feeling tired as you once did.
The flavour of the foods that you eat are now present in the amniotic fluid and your baby can ‘taste’ what you are eating.
Two moms to be, Kholo Mamabolo and Vuyo Dlamini share what their second trimester has been like for them.
“The journey has been so awe-inspiring. From the discolouration of my skin to the extra fat around my thighs to the hormonal changes – it’s amazing how the body cooperates to accommodate this little bundle of joy,” says Kholo.
“I suddenly got a surge of creativity and energy. I had to put in a lot of hours at work and sometimes I’d work throughout the night. This is when the baby’s movements were more pronounced – it felt so good to know I wasn’t alone. She kept me company and encouraged me with her kicks during that time, we produced beautiful work together,” says Vuyo.
How moms-to-be can support each other
The journey of motherhood is an exciting time for you and as you prepare to enter this new phase in your life, you should get all the support you need,
One way to prepare is by speaking and interacting with moms-to-be who can share their experience with you as well. Often you can find help, practical advice and tips from other expectant moms and this can give you a sense of belonging and comfort as you share with a community that understands what you are going through.
Shamiso Chaibva (36) of Kensington says she was apart of a support group of moms who met regularly and communicated online through Whatsapp. She also kept in contact with her family and friends and accepted their help. Her biggest source of support as she prepared to breastfeed was the LLL (La Leche League) a non-profit organization that organizes advocacy, educational, and training related to breastfeeding.
“ It is present in a number of countries including South Africa. Its purpose is to help mothers worldwide to breastfeed through mother-to-mother support, encouragement, information, and education, and to promote a better understanding of breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. They have a Facebook as well as contacts on the page that can provide 24-hour help,” says Shamiso.
Refilwe Moagi (28) of Germiston says that she was hesitant to find support but as her pregnancy progressed she realised that she needed to speak to people who understood what she was going through.
“There were moments when I was scared and couldn’t really enjoy my pregnancy. Instead I spent a lot of time at home alone sometimes and avoided going out or speaking to people. It was after my sister connected me with a friend of hers who was also pregnant that I began chatting to her and we connected sharing tips on dealing with the cravings, morning after sickness and weight gain.”
- Open a support group online
Create a Whatsapp group and chat regularly, sharing your expectations, moments and joys of the pregnancy journey.
- Visit each other
Check up on a fellow mommy-to-be and schedule dates out or in the comfort of your homes.
- Share knowledge
Talk about what you are going through, you may find that another woman is experiencing something similar and can relate or offer help.
- Go shopping together
Retail therapy is always a good idea. Spoil yourselves and have fun!
- Recommend or suggest medical advice
If you have a great gynaecologist then recommend him or her to your group. Great referrals happen this way but it all begins with opening up and sharing to support a fellow expectant mother.
How to chronicle your baby’s birth story
Creating a birth story for your baby will contribute to the host of special memories, mementoes and collection of pictures that you have planned for your little one.
You don’t even have to be an accomplished author or writer to ace this one. All you have to do is chronicle your excitement and encapsulate all the moments leading up to and including your baby’s birth.
To begin compiling the birth story, keep a diary specifically dedicated to the birth story and make notes of special moments. For example, start with the day your doctor told you when you would be due. Make a note of this and pencil in the date, together with an image of the sonogram.
On the day you decide on the birth plan, make a note of that too and chronicle how that experience made you feel as you made a decision on how you would give birth to your child.
If you have opted for a home birth, add that to the diary and detail why and how you plan to have the home birth. Additional details about how your partner is helping you to prepare and what you will have ready at the birth will also develop the birth story quite nicely.
Write about what outfit you chose to wear during the birth experience and what music you listened to as well as what mood you aimed to create in the room as your baby was born will add a nice touch to the birth story.
Welcoming your baby to the world is a precious moment and so details about what time you heard her first cry, who held her first, what she wore on her first day and when she started feeding will also give those privy reading your child’s birth story a strong sense of the day your child arrived in the world.
Ways to chronicle your birth story
- Compile the birth story in a journal containing all the hand written notes and images of the moments leading up to and including the birth
- Keep a video diary
- Record all the special moments in a voice journal which you can share with close family and friends or just keep in your family.
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