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1: Register before you go into labor
Pre-register at the birth center or hospital so you dont have to deal with too much paperwork when you arrive. Your care provider can help with this.
New baby preparation timeline
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2: Opt for organic baby products
When youre buying baby products, err on the side of the perfume- and dye-free. Lotions and potions and soaps with fragrances and chemicals can be harsh on a newborns skin. Go organic if/when you can.
How to choose the safest baby care products
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3: Keep moving
Even with all this heavy weight youre carrying and a blood volume 40-50% more than before you were pregnant, its still a great idea to remain active. All you have to do is walk or swim or stretch — serious workouts are too much at this point.
Why this mom loved swimming while pregnant
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4: Take your time
Women frequently find they get out of breath very quickly at this point in pregnancy. Its normal, given what your body is doing. To avoid light-headedness, take your time climbing stairs and dont get up too quickly.
If youre frequently short of breath, try these nasal strips
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5: Pack for the hospital
When you pack your clothes for the hospital consider the following: a robe, slippers or socks, pajamas, a few pairs of underwear, and stretchy comfy clothes to wear home (youll still look about 5 months pregnant right after birth).
The comfiest maternity pants — ever
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6: Pack for your partner too
When packing for the hospital, bring some stuff for your partner: a change of clothes/shirt, toiletries, and a bathing suit if he or she will get in the shower or tub with you.
Heres a packing checklist for mom, baby, and partner
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7: Bring some comforts from home
Before you leave to go to the hospital or birthing center, grab a pillow or two from home. A laboring mom can always use extra pillows, and hospitals sometimes dont have them.
Try the Boppy pregnancy wedge pillow
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8: Read up on labor medications
Educate yourself about the benefits, risks, and alternatives to medications and procedures used in labor such as induction, epidurals, and monitoring. If you participate in decisions regarding your care, youll likely feel more confident about whats being done.
12 things you should know about epidurals
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9: Squeeze in a prenatal massage while you can
Prenatal massage is great for your body and your mind and, if you are past 40 weeks, a well-trained therapist can use acupressure to help trigger labor.
Prenatal massages also help release this key hormone
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10: Your water might not actually break
Only 12% of women have their water break before labor starts. Of those 12% almost all will go into labor by themselves within 24 hours.
Did my water break or did I just pee myself?
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11: Induction may not be necessary
Try to let labor start on its own. Using drugs to induce labor for convenience has been associated with increased risks for mom and baby.
5 ways to induce labor naturally
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12: There are natural ways to jumpstart labor
Nipple stimulation, spicy foods, evening primrose oil, and lots of walking and acupuncture all may help trigger labor naturally. Talk to your care provider about these options should they become necessary.
5 things you should know about induction
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13: But discuss these natural induction methods with your doctor
Castor oil and enemas are sometimes used to trigger labor without using medication. Do not try these without talking to your care provider. Castor oil can be highly unpleasant, though sometimes very effective.
Why this mom looked into enemas before giving birth
Your Pregnancy 14 of 32
14: Sex can also help get labor started
Sex can help trigger labor at term: female orgasm and semen can trigger the labor hormones oxytocin and prostaglandins, respectively. Sex is a great way to try and induce labor naturally, as long your water hasnt broken.
The power of oxytocin
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15: Find out about the food policy
Some hospitals and birth centers have lifted the old-fashioned ban on food and drink in labor. Talk to your care provider about this; staying hydrated and nourished before and during labor has been proven beneficial.
Do women deserve food during labor?
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16: Labor can take a while
Talk to your care provider about when to call/go to the birth center or hospital. For first-time moms, in the absence of any concerns, you can probably stay home until the beginning of active labor — when contractions are 3-5 minutes apart.
What does a contraction really feel like?
Your Pregnancy 17 of 32
17: It's normal to lose your mucus plug days before labor begins
You may notice the passing of your mucus plug a day or two (or more) before labor starts or you may not. Its actually more mucus than plug — some say it looks like clear phlegm tinged with blood. You may never notice it, which is fine, too.
Mucus plug its as pretty as it sounds
Your Pregnancy 18 of 32
18: Poop happens
Fear of pooping in labor is so common. And hey, it sometimes happens and the doctor or midwife will wipe it away so fast, youll never know. Theyve seen it all and dont care.
More pregnancy and birth fears
Your Pregnancy 19 of 32
19: The timing of the epidural matters
Epidurals very early in labor increase the chance of a C-section. Meanwhile, those used after mom has labored for a very long time and is utterly exhausted can actually prevent a C-section.
The risks and benefits of epidurals
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20: Vaginal tearing is common
Some vaginal tearing is common in a first-time birth, but there are things you can do to minimize it: Gravity-friendly pushing positions — like squatting — can help. Its a good topic to bring up with your care provider to see how to lower risk.
More steps to reduce vaginal tearing
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21: Moving during labor can help the pain
Labor is dynamic. Moving and changing position throughout can make labor more efficient and take the edge off the pain.
Some tips on free-range labor
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22: Water is a great pain reliever
Immersing yourself in water during labor can be as effective for pain relief as an injection of narcotics. Do you have access to a tub in labor? Showers are also helpful for reducing pain.
Why this mom is glad she gave birth in water
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23: Labor speeds up your digestion
As the pregnancy hormones shift to labor hormones, women sometimes find their digestive system is suddenly less sluggish — loose bowels are not uncommon in pre-labor.
Why you shouldnt be embarrassed about pooping
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24: Labor increases adrenaline
Women feel a burst of adrenaline when they go into labor. This blast of hormones helps with the final stage of the babys lung development.
What to expect during the second stage of labor
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25: Labor can take hours and hours and hours
In first pregnancies, early labor can be very long (6-12 hours average in a first time-birth, with contractions 5-30 minutes apart). If its daytime distract yourself and stay active. If its nighttime take a bath, maybe have a few sips of wine, and try to get some sleep.
Why this mom thinks first pregnancies are the best
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26: But remember, the baby is almost here!
The good news about all that discomfort at the end of pregnancy: It actually makes you look forward to labor.
Plus, you wont have to hear these questions anymore
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27: Know that your body was built for this
Remember, labor can be hard, challenging, and downright painful, but we were meant to do this. Focus on what you can do to help with pain and anxiety rather than what feels out of control.
How pregnancy and giving birth cleared this moms worried mind
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28: Theres more boob swelling ahead
Milk comes in around day 3 or 4 postpartum. This can be painful, as the breasts become temporarily very engorged. To treat any discomfort, try putting frozen cabbage leaves on your breasts between feedings.
How your breasts may change from each trimester
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29: Your milk supply changes
The first 4-6 weeks of breastfeeding are important for establishing supply. The more you feed, the more milk youll be able to make moving forward.
5 things you should know about breastfeeding
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30: Breastfeeding isn't easy
Breastfeeding can be very rewarding but often very hard at first. It can take a while for you and your body to get used to it. Lots of support and quality advice from the beginning will give you added confidence!
Troubleshooting breastfeeding problems
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31: Recruit breastfeeding help, if you're going that route
If you want to breastfeed, make sure all the hospital or birthing center staff members know this. Introducing a bottle or artificial nipple (even a pacifier) can disrupt breastfeeding within the first few weeks.
What makes breastmilk so good?
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