Ask the Expert: Preparing for Birth

Guide From Expert: Preparing For Birth

Preparing for the birth of your baby is exciting but can also be daunting. And if you’re a first time parent,Guest Posting it can be quite overwhelming. From birth plans, to types of birth, to pain relief and what to expect during the birth — there’s a lot to consider.

Christina is one of myTamarin’s pregnancy and newborn experts, night nanny and maternity nurse. We sat down with Christina to discuss her work as a birth doula and how she helps parents prepare for the birth of their babies. She also shared some tips and advice with us.

First of all, what is a doula?

A doula is someone who is there to serve and support women through pregnancy, birth and postnatally. As a birth and postnatal doula, I help prepare parents in the lead up to the birth of their baby and also support them in those first weeks and months after the baby is born.

A birth doula is there to guide and support parents through their transition into parenthood before the birth of their baby. They often meet with parents several months before the baby is born and talk through any questions they have about birth and also what their preferences are when it comes to the birth itself. They are there to be a reassuring presence, to make parents aware of all their options and to support and guide them. They offer something more to parents than usual nanny services or nanny agency jobs.

Postnatal doulas help parents once the baby is born, especially in those early days and weeks (although it can be longer). They support parents both practically and emotionally. This could involve helping the baby settle and allowing the parents to get some rest or helping with things that need to be done around the house.

When should parents start preparing for birth?

Around the four to five month mark of your pregnancy is a really good time to start thinking about the birth and begin making plans. However, if you do leave it until later, you can still get a lot done. If you do want to hire a birth doula, it is good to interview a few from the best nanny agency in UK to make sure that you get the right fit for you and your partner. Doing this early on means that you will have someone there at the end of the phone to talk with, if you have any questions about your appointments or the various stages leading up to the birth. However, some parents do leave it until the last minute, perhaps because they had a traumatic birth previously and anxiety is building the closer it gets to the birth, and this is also ok.

What is a birth plan?

It is normally something that is discussed with women when they go to their appointments with the midwife. As a doula, we would be looking at that in more detail and discussing things like types of pain relief, who you want to be present at the birth, if and when you want to transfer into hospital, when and who will cut the cord, whether you want vitamin k or not and how you want the ‘golden hour’ to unfold – which is the first hour of a baby’s life. It helps parents feel more in control. It is also something that the partner can take on during the actual birth and advocate for. It means there is always a point of reference, even if things go a little off plan at points, and parents’ wishes can always be known and taken into consideration.

What are the different types of birth?

It is always up to the parents to choose the type of birth that would suit them best.

One option is home birth. There are many networks out there, like the Positive Birth Movement, who can support parents around that. If you decide to give birth at home, you’ll still have a midwife there to support you while you’re in labour. If, for whatever reason, you need help or your labour is not progressing as it should, your midwife will arrange for you to be transferred into hospital.

Another option is to have a hospital birth. If you decide to give birth in hospital, you’ll be cared for by predominantly midwives, but doctors are available if needed. You can still make a lot of the decisions around the kind of birth you want and bring things with you to make it feel more homely.

Within a hospital birth, there is also scope for a c-section. This is an operation to deliver your baby through a cut made in your tummy and womb. Some women elect for a c-section for non-medical reasons. For others, it can be unplanned. There are various reasons for this such as the baby being in the breech position or the mother having high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia).

There are also some midwife led units that are less medicalised and are more comfortable and homely than a maternity unit in a hospital.

It is really about working out what you think would be best for you and doing some reading and research to decide. Parents should always take into consideration any medical or health needs too, so speak to your midwife and the hospital team who are taking care of you to talk through your options.

How can mums prepare physically and mentally for birth?

If you are someone who exercised a lot before your pregnancy then it is fine to continue, as long as you have discussed this with your medical team. However, it is not advised that you take on a new demanding and intense exercise regime if this is not something that you did previously. Swimming and yoga are really good as they can help you stay relaxed and you can also try out different positions for birth. At the end of pregnancy, lots of walking is recommended and sitting straight and upright so the baby can drop down into position.

When it comes to preparing mentally, having the support of a doula can really help as you then have someone who can talk through all of your options with you and be an advocate for you. They can also make sure parents have got all the knowledge they need. Putting together a birth plan can also really help parents have a clear idea of what they want your birth to be like.

What are the essential things to get for the baby?

The most important thing for a baby is to have its parents and to bond with them. We sometimes worry too much about the kit and having the latest things when it isn’t always necessary. Having a safe space for the baby to sleep, whether it’s a Moses basket or a crib, finding the best nannies is really important. Always get a firm and brand new mattress – other things can be second hand but it is really important that the mattress is new. Moses baskets are useful — especially in the early weeks and months — as you can put them on the sofa or and move them around easily. Swaddling can also be really lovely as it gives babies a sense of security and can help settle and soothe a baby to sleep, just make sure you follow the safety guidelines around it. Also just make sure you have plenty of muslins and baby grows. If you’re wanting to bottle feed, you need to think about bottles and sterilising equipment. For additional help needed for looking after your baby, you need nannies in UK from the top nanny and childcare agency.

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