Preparing Your Baby for Birth

Now to the most important person at the event – your baby. She is just as much a part of the process as you are, and may even be the one who chooses when to start labor off; babies do generally come when they are ready. Just as labor is different for different mothers, so, too, is it different for different babies. Some seem to love staying on in the womb and are reluctant to come into the world, but others can’t wait to be born.It is worth spending a little time focusing on how labor might be from your baby’s perspective. You can spend time preparing for labor, but your baby is launched into it. While you are releasing endorphins, your baby is releasing adrenaline. Labor, therefore, is quite stressful for your baby, but it is a stress with which she is designed to cope. In fact, some people believe that labor may be a good preparation for how to deal with stress in life.Years ago, some psychologists believed that labor was too stressful for babies and they should all be born by Caesarean section. Now they have realised that a C-section is not something babies are naturally designed to go through, and it actually may create more stress than,1 straightforward vaginal birth. Babies can be helped to process the stress of a C-section, but parents do need to be aware that their babies may need a little extra support to make the adjustment to life outside the womb.That is not to say that babies can’t get over-stressed during a vaginal delivery. There is a fine balance and if the labor is particularly long, or the baby gets stuck, or the cord is wrapped around her neck so that she is not getting enough blood, then the stress can become too much and is known as “fetal distress” or “compromise”. This can be a reason for having to deliver the baby immediately by C-section or forceps. In such situations, it is important to try not to add to the stress that your baby experiences by being stressed yourself. Whatever happens, relaxation must always remain a high priority.What your baby “knows”You have to remember that by the time she is ready to be born, a baby is a very aware being although opinion differs on how aware and when that awareness comes.By the time of birth, a baby has been aware of touch since week 8, sound since week 22, and light since week 30. It is interesting that touch is the earliest sense that develops. The baby has learned to be aware of feelings of being touched from the inside (by the womb contracting or the movement of the mother’s intestines) and also from the outside (through the touch of the mother on her abdomen).Your baby is also aware, in her own way, of everything that you do. Hormones in the mother do pass through to the baby, so if you feel stressed in labor, you will add to your baby’s stress. If, on the other hand, you are relaxed, your baby will be more relaxed.Keeping in touchLabor is a complete unknown for your baby, as well as for you. If you have been talking to and massaging your baby during pregnancy, then it is good to continue doing that throughout labor,if possible, because it offers your baby reassurance and familiarity.You or your partner could communicate with your baby by touching or massaging your abdomen. If you played music that made you feel relaxed while you were pregnant, your baby will also have felt relaxed. Playing the same kind of music in labor and even after the birth, will help both you and your baby to relax.It is never too late to have a name for your baby while she is in your womb. You can use this name to talk to her while you are pregnant and continue using it in labor. It could be the name that you are intending to call your baby, but it also could be a “womb name”. I called my daughter “Little Fishy” and my son “Cherry Berry”. Sometimes people worry that such a name might stick, but when you meet your baby, you will find her new name. In our family, the womb names haven’t been used since the first few weeks, although we sometimes fondly remember them! However sometimes womb names feel appropriate and so you may keep on using them.In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, you can write a journal to your baby about the experience of birth. You can explore what you are going to do to support her during the process of labor. You also can talk to her about this while you are massaging your abdomen.You can continue to communicate with your baby throughout labor In fact, by cutting off from your baby, you may make labor more difficult for her.You can focus on or even talk to your baby while you are having a contraction. If things do get more difficult, you can talk to your baby about what is happening. Many mothers find focusing on something positive, such as their baby, rather than something negative such as the pain, can really help them have a more positive attitude to the birth.