By Yvette Julian-Arndt Photography Anna Gilbert
You have been busy preparing your mind and body for birth and getting set for the arrival of your precious baby, but with the end in sight it can bring a real mix of emotions- excitement, exhaustion, sadness, frustration, relief and apprehension.
Here a few tips for the last few weeks so you can go into labour ready and relaxed, and welcome your baby feeling supported and strong.
1. FINISH UP WORK
Give yourself a few weeks to rest, visualise and focus on the kind of birth you want. You don’t want to be distracted by busy work schedules or exhausted from travel leading up to labour.
2. GO OVER THE BIRTH PLAN
Researching and writing a birth plan can help you work out what is important to you in the birth of your child and allow clear communication with your care provider about your informed decisions. In these final weeks, go through your plan so that your birth partner clearly understands your wishes, knows how you want to be supported and can advocate for you if necessary.
3. BUILD YOUR VILLAGE
It really does take a village to raise a child, so line up helpers that will take care of older children, do laundry, cook, get groceries or walk dogs once you are home with baby. Also connect with your closest friends and family so that you know who to call on the tough days, when you need a shoulder to cry on.
4. TAKE SOME BUMP SHOTS
Treat yourself and have some professional pregnancy photos taken. After the birth you will be overjoyed to finally have your beautiful baby in your arms, but it is quite common to miss your bump. Having some precious photos to look at will help ease this feeling and will also allow you to look back and acknowledge the amazing job your body did growing a human- especially if your postpartum body is taking a while to get used to.
5. HAVE A BABY SHOWER OR BLESSINGWAY CEREMONY
Celebrate your pregnancy with a special day that is all about you! Make sure someone else organises it and that it includes some pampering. If friends and family are asking what you would like in the way of presents, ask for vouchers for a cleaning company, local takeaway restaurant or a postnatal doula. This way you will have some extra help once all the visitors have left, and you are on your own when hubby is back at work.
6. GET COOKING
Prepare and freeze some meals so you don’t have to worry about dinners after the birth, whilst trying to look after and bond with your newborn. Make sure they are nourishing and nutritious foods that give you energy, promote healing and support positive mental health.
7. ATTEND A BREASTFEEDING CLASS
Breastfeeding is often one of the biggest challenges after birth, so knowing what to expect and understanding the problems you may face, will put you one step ahead. If this is your first child or you want to have another go at breastfeeding after difficulty the first time, consider attending an education class run by the Australian Breastfeeding Association or visit one of their local support groups. Spending time with breastfeeding women can increase your chances of breastfeeding success.
8. COMPLETE THE BABY TO-DO LIST EARLY
Finish the nursery, wash baby clothes, purchase baby items, sort out the car capsule, pack your hospital bag and spring clean well before the end, so that panic doesn’t set in and you aren’t rushing around at the last minute.
9. GET YOUR FINANCES SORTED
Sit down with your partner and sort out a realistic budget so you don’t get a nasty shock or stressed about money when you are on maternity leave. You will be grateful you took the time before you were too tired to think straight.
10. PRIORTISE QUALITY TIME
Life with a newborn means that time alone with your partner is limited. If this is your first child, go away somewhere romantic and talk about all the wonderful things that you have experienced together that led you to this point. If you have other children, get a babysitter and go to the cinema or visit your favourite restaurant; it will be a while before you can enjoy an uninterrupted meal again or be able to stay awake through a movie! Most importantly, enjoy each other and strengthen your connection so you can welcome your new baby with love. Also spend some one-on-one time with your other children, doing their favourite things. This will reinforce your bond which will help them adjust to the arrival of a sibling.
Yvette Julian-Arndt is a mum to two gorgeous boys and with her husband loves living on the Mornington Peninsula. As the owner of Project Birth, she is passionate about educating and inspiring couples for this life changing event and runs The Positive Birth Course in Frankston.