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3 Tips for Your First Labor and Delivery

You’ve spend almost ten months preparing for your baby’s arrival, but you might not be sure what you’re actually preparing for. Sure, you’ve seen the shows and read the books, but actually getting from a state of swollen readiness to that sweaty women pushing in a hospital bed can be a big jump – especially for someone with an active imagination.

Wait…and Keep Waiting
Your earliest contractions can start days before you actually deliver. In some cases, if you count Braxton Hicks contractions, they can start weeks or months earlier. When you start to feel real contractions, you’ll be excited and nervous. A real contraction is a wave of tension across your body usually rolling from your back down to your lower abdomen. It’s not just a tensing of the abdomen muscles all at once the way the Braxton Hicks are.

Once you feel these contractions, start jotting down the times they start to see if there is a pattern. Get comfortable and wait. Then wait some more. When your contractions are four minutes apart and lasting two minutes each for at least two hours or so, you can head to the hospital. But if you’re comfortable, you might wait even a bit longer. It’s much more comfortable to be at your own home than a sterile hospital environment.

Grab a Quick Bite
Unless you’ve been told otherwise, you should try to grab a small meal before heading to the hospital. If you’re not having a C-section, you’ll likely be in labor for hours and hours and having a cup of soup or a quick smoothie can give you just a bit more energy to make it through.

Your partner should absolutely eat a meal before heading to the hospital. Neither he nor you will want him rushing off to the cafeteria to deal with his light-headedness during hard labor or after your baby arrives. You both need to be in peak condition, so eat a bit to give you some energy.

Clean and Pack
Use this last spurt of nervous energy to keep moving and get things ready. You don’t need to be on the floor with a toothbrush attacking your grout, but the two of you will be away from home for a few days. Clear your counters; have your partner take out the trash. Be sure there are no wet clothes in the washer that need to be dried. Do a quick wipe of bathroom counters.

Sure you’ll have to pause for contractions every five to ten minutes, but at least you’ll be bringing your baby home to a relatively tidy house. And walking into a home that doesn’t need your immediate attention will feel good, too. When you’re finished with the basic household items, double check your suitcase to be sure you have everything. Grab the cell phone charger and your iPod and then sit down to rest and ready yourself knowing you’re going into this new world as prepared as you can be.

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