• On a separate sheet of paper make a list of what is most important to you about labor and delivery. For example, it could include having a healthy baby or for the delivery to be as natural as possible. Then, compare your list of fears to your list of priorities. This will help you rationalize your fears and figure out which ones are irrational, or less important, than you originally realized.
• Since it’s impossible to control what your body does during labor and delivery, I highly recommend having a breathing plan that you have practiced, a lot. Breathing is the one thing that you can control, and being in control of your breath will help you mentally get through each contraction, as well as any feelings of panic, fear, or concern that arise during labor. When we feel pain, we naturally hold our breath. The key to breathing during labor is to choose to breath (which puts you in control) and concentrating on each breath.
There are many different ways to breath, and I recommend taking a class on breathing during labor. However, if a class is not possible then use the 1-2-3 breath. Breathe in through your nose while counting in your mind 1-2-3, then breath out through your mouth in 3 short, rhythmic intervals. You will develop a rhythm while you are doing the 1-2-3 breath. It can be helpful to find a movement that you can also do to keep with the rhythm. Ask your spouse or birth partner to do the breaths with you to help you stay on track.
• Lastly, fill your mind with positive thoughts about yourself and your baby. Labor and delivery can be beautiful if you think about it in a beautiful way. The thoughts you think about yourself are going to affect your mood and your fears. Write these positive statements and thoughts down onto your birth plan. They will not only be a reminder for you, but also for your birth partner about what is most important for you during labor.
Choose to put trust in your doctors instead of doubt, choose to accept that things may not go as planned, choose to put the health of the baby first, and remember that no one is judging you for what helps you get through labor. If you want to pray out loud, listen to rap music, or give birth in a bath tub then do it!
Remember to breath, rationalize your fears, expect the unexpected, stay positive, and get ready for the most beautiful miracle of all, having a baby!