Bringing a new baby into the world is an amazing process, but it can also be scary, especially for a first-time mom. By preparing mentally, you are giving yourself the best possible chance to have a great experience.
Think of it as a marathon
Would you show up to run a marathon without training first? Of course not, you would prepare for months before you ever got to the starting line. While much of the work is physical, labor is also a mental game, requiring you to dig deep and find strength within yourself.
A great place to start when preparing for labor is to address your fears. Fear of the unknown is a very powerful thing. Whether this is your first baby or your eighth, there is no way to know exactly how your birth will go. Help alleviate some of those fears by learning what you can about the birth process and how it will affect you. The more you know about what is going to happen, the more you will be able to relax.
In order to avoid sabotaging your new found zen, block out the bad examples. When I was pregnant, it felt like every movie or TV show featured a woman in labor, screaming like a banshee as she is wheeled down the hospital hallway by a frantic nurse followed by a useless husband. That was nothing compared to the horror stories many of my friends, relatives and random strangers were telling me. I found the best thing to do was interrupt them and nicely ask if they could save this story for after the baby was here, explaining that I was trying to focus on positive birth stories at the moment. It might not be the best for your social life, but it will be worth it.
Since you have now effectively killed your social life, you will have plenty of time to find a birth method that works for you. Some methods of which you may be familiar include, Lamaze, Bradley and Hypnobirthing, but there are many others to consider. Once you find the method in which you feel most comfortable, dig in and learn everything you can. Consider enrolling in classes, read books or watch videos. The best thing for me was a combination of Bradley and Hypnobirthing, which I taught myself, both by reading books and watching videos available on YouTube.
The best thing I did in those final weeks leading up to my baby's birth was practice, practice, practice. While, it felt strange to lie on my living room floor, listening to my favorite peaceful music, trying to fall into a hypnotic state, I am so glad I kept at it. When I was in labor, it was amazingly helpful to have the ability to tune out all the potentially frightening things going on around me and focus completely on bringing my baby into the world. An added bonus is that I still use the things I learned when I can't fall asleep, or I need a way to lower my stress level.
Having a great birth experience is within your power. Being prepared mentally is the best way to ensure that you are calm and happy, no matter the birth experience.