Congratulations on your pregnancy! Being pregnant can be a joyous, stressful and amazing time that, of course, will come to an end after about nine months. But, before you can meet your new bundle of joy, you’ll need to take the journey through labour and delivery. You’ve likely read many books and spoken with other moms about their birth experience in an effort to educate yourself as best you can. While some things are difficult to fully plan for, there are some great things you can do to better help prepare you and your body for the birth of your child.
1. Sign up for a Childbirth Class
Find a class that you and your partner can take together that talks about childbirth and the early days when you bring home your newborn. Often, your health care provider will provide you with some suggestions or you might find one that’s hosted by a local parenting organization, right in your neighbourhood. These classes are a great way to learn more, have your questions answered and help you meet other expectant parents, before your baby comes home to stay. In Ottawa, the Ottawa Childbirth Education Association is a great place to find weekly classes, weekend classes or one day, condensed classes. They offer other classes, such as Comfort Measures during birth and Bringing Home Baby.
2. Learn more about breastfeeding
If you are planning to breastfeed, it’s important to have some information in advance. Despite what many may think, the early days of breastfeeding can be a tricky time as your baby learns how to latch, as you wait for your milk to come in and as you get used to this nourishing (but exhausting) experience. It’s a good idea to find a few local lactation consultants and have their number handy for the days after your baby’s birth when you’re still learning the ins and outs of breastfeeding. Don’t be afraid to seek out advice and tips in advance and ask for help if you need it. Milkface offers a prenatal breastfeeding clinic to help you understand what you need to know about breastfeeding before your baby is born. Afterwards, the Ottawa Birth and Wellness Centre and the City of Ottawa offer a selection of free breastfeeding support drop-ins at various times and locations.
3. Plan for a Pelvic Floor Assessment
Pelvic floor health is important to consider during your pregnancy, so it’s a good idea to be informed and book an appointment before your baby is born. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can help you better prepare you body for birthing a baby, leading to a better recovery after your baby is born. There are some great pelvic floor physiotherapists here in Ottawa that can help you with pelvic floor health both before and after you have your baby.
4. Book a Massage
Taking time for self-care is crucial throughout your pregnancy, but possibly more so as you near the end of it, since your body is going through many changes and shifts as it prepares for birth. Booking a massage with someone who caters especially to pregnant woman will do your body wonders. Anna Belanger and Associates Massage Therapy has a number of locations in Ottawa and offers a touch of relaxation and relief during what can sometimes be an uncomfortable time.
5. Join an Exercise Class
Exercising throughout your pregnancy is a wonderful way to help prepare your body to deliver your baby. Fitness classes, like our FITMOM 2B classes, help to improve your muscular balance, cardiovascular endurance and core stability. Being active during your entire pregnancy will help you feel stronger and more energetic so that you’ll be able to cope with the physical demands of delivery. And despite the discomfort that many women feel in their final few weeks, it’s still important to keep your body moving and exercising for as long as you can before your delivery. If fitness isn’t quite your thing, you can try a prenatal yoga class or a prenatal aqua-fit class. In all cases, you’ll want to be sure your health care provider knows that you’re exercising and that you choose a class where the instructor is certified to teach the prenatal population.
In the remaining months and weeks leading up to the birth of your child, these are a few ways to help prepare for the miraculous change that is about to happen both to your life and to your body. Be sure to take care of yourself in the days prior to your labour and the weeks after.