Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 12:35 pm

Your hospital bag is packed, the nappies are stocked and all your little one’s clothes are neatly folded. You’ve also ticked everything off your shopping list and have a stocked fridge and freezer for the week’s ahead.But how ready are you for childbirth?

There are hundreds of lists and tips about birth choices, what to buy, what to pack and what to wear, but there isn’t much information on how to get yourself ready emotionally, and how to have the best childbirth experience possible. Here are five ways that could change your big day for the better.

ALSO SEE: 11 reasons why your gynae might insist you have a C-Section 

Be open to change

Birth plans are great, but when things don’t go according to plan due to medical reasons, you might be left feeling scared, disappointed or angry. The truth is, change is constant, and sometimes doctors and midwives will make a decision based on your specific case and method of birth. We’re not saying ditch the birth plan or panic that things won’t go exactly as you wish – often they are fulfilled. What we’re advising is to open yourself to the possibility of change. Knowing in advance that things may be completely different to how you planned, is important when it comes to having a positive childbirth experience.

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A mom’s experience 

Tamara, 30, had planned a natural birth with her long-time gynaecologist. “I went into labour a week early and my doctor was away at a conference. Not only was it difficult to get my head around the fact that my trusted, familiar doctor wasn’t at my side, but after only a five-hour labour, my baby was in distress and I needed to have an emergency C-Section. I was devastated and it set me off on a rocky few days, since I wasn’t prepared for a C-Section. I know that if I’d gotten my head around something different beforehand, I’d have had a much better childbirth experience. I was completely unprepared for change.”

Don’t lose focus

It’s so normal to worry about what your baby will wear in hospital, how many visitors you’ll have or whether you’re stocked up on wipes. But it’s easy to lose focus of the main point – that you’re going to give birth to your baby, and how wonderful this actually is. Many moms wish they hadn’t “sweated the small stuff” and instead focused their energy and effort on the joy and miracle of a new baby. It’s normal to feel a little anxious, but rather than focusing on the negative, try to practice minfdulness where you simply stop and let yourself feel calm, happy and excited. You can always buy more wipes, or ask your partner to fetch more items from home if need be.

Keep your sense of humour 

This isn’t always easy, especially when there are needles, contractions and pain, plus all the anxiety about delivering a healthy baby. But it’s said that “attitude determines altitude”, and being a little calmer could change your birth experience for the better.

What this mom went through 

Tumi, 28, says that when she had her water birth, and was in immense pain, she used humour to take the edge off. “I joked about my thighs, and asked my husband, who was photographing the birth, whether he would Photoshop
my cellulite! It was really funny and took the edge off. It also calmed me down and gave me an even better birth experience.”

ALSO SEE: 7 things that might happen during labour that no one tells you about

Ditch the worrying

We know – telling a pregnant woman not to worry is like telling a baby not to cry. It’s normal and even “healthy”, but when it gets to the point that it overrides everything else, then it’s time to try and cut back. Find out as much as you can about your birth to allay your fears, speak to someone who can help, or try a few relaxation exercises. Extreme worrying could ruin your birth experience entirely, as you might not be able to focus on the positive aspects of birth.

Forget all the drama stories

For every good birth story, it seems there are about five horror ones – people seem to love telling us the dramatic stories of prem babies, diarrhoea on the delivery table, or emergency procedures. Our advice? Block out the negative stories and try not to think that your birth could be “one of those”. Concentrating on horror stories only adds fuel to birth anxiety – something we don’t need!

Try this positive affirmations app 

Looking for positive pregnancy and birth affirmations to help you along your journey? We recently discovered the iBirth app. The creators of the app, including a host of pregnancy and birth experts, believe that positive thinking has a physical effect on our bodies and can reduce stress and boost confidence. This is why the app’s primary focus is to deliver positive words for moms and families- before, during and after birth.

Some affirmations include, “My baby is strong and healthy”, “I am a strong and capable woman”, “Birth is a wonderful, safe experience.” The app also has additional tools and trackers including baby growth charts, feeding timers as well as a healthy nutrition planner for moms. Available on iPhone and Android app stores. Visit www.ibirthapp.com for more info.