Believe it or not, you have already begun birth preparation when you visited your doctor or midwife for the first time. The most important preparation is prenatal care, but, of course, there is so much more to be done. The birth of your child is a physically intensive process many women are not ready to undertake. Making simple changes to your diet and lifestyle early in your pregnancy can mean a world of difference when labor begins.
Diet and exercise
You want your body to be in the best shape possible, but when should you begin? Diet and exercise changes can (and ideally should) happen before conception, immediately after conception or a month or two before your expected due date.
When you find out you are pregnant, talk with your doctor about starting or maintaining an exercise plan. Having a healthy heart and physical stamina will make labor easier and less exhausting. At the same visit, ask about a healthy pregnancy diet. You will be starting a prenatal vitamin if you have not already, but a prenatal vitamin just covers the basics. Switching out simple carbohydrates like white pasta and rice for whole grains like wheat pasta and brown rice is a step in the right direction. You can also add a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, including folic acid-rich green, leafy vegetables from the first weeks of pregnancy.
Labor classes and birth plans
You can enroll in labor classes any time during pregnancy, but most women wait until the third trimester. This is also the time when you should be focusing on your personalized birth plan. The birth plan guides your family, friends and the doctor/staff through labor from a personal perspective.
The final stage of birth preparation is pre-registration. If your birth will take place in the hospital and your due date is fast approaching, ask your obstetrician about pre-registration. Pre-registration allows you to sign all necessary paperwork and medical forms before labor begins.
The most important preparation of all requires making that initial prenatal appointment and keeping all prenatal check-ups. From there, take your planning for your baby's birth in stride.
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