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Preparing for labour and birth

30 August 2022

Are you counting down the days until your bundle of joy arrives? Perhaps you’re still in the early stages of pregnancy.

Regardless of where you are in your pregnancy journey, it’s never too early to prepare for the arrival of your baby. 

St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital Clinical Midwifery Specialist Shannon Scari provides her tips for preparing for labour and birth.

Birth is an individual experience

Regardless of whether you are expecting to go into labour or have booked an elective caesarean section, it is beneficial to prepare yourself, your support person and your family for your birth. 

Seek reputable information

During your pregnancy, you will form a close bond with your care team. 

Your midwives and obstetrician are a great source of evidence-based information. Bring questions to your appointments and ask them to recommend other reputable resources.

If you haven’t already, we recommend taking part in our antenatal education classes. These are hosted by our experienced midwives and provide great insights into topics such as labour, birth, breastfeeding and parenthood. We also encourage your support person to attend. To book, please visit MyAdmission

Be mindful of ‘birth stories’ and don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Every birth experience is different and how a woman reflects on her birth experience is dependent on many social, cultural and personal factors. 

Prepare your mind and body

This may involve pregnancy yoga or Pilates, walking and/or swimming. Remember to check with your obstetrician before taking part in physical activity to ensure the exercise is suitable for you.

You can prepare your mind by surrounding yourself with positive influences and avoiding negative birth stories. Learning some relaxation techniques, such as breathing, meditation, hypnobirthing or visualisation can also be useful. 

Choose your birth support team

Research has shown that support people can significantly impact your labour and birth experience. So it’s important that you select the right people to support you. 

We recommend that you choose someone who will empower you, provide support and encouragement, and listen to your wishes.

Once you’ve chosen your birth partner, it’s also important that you discuss how you would like them to support you during your labour and birth. 

Learn birth positions and massage techniques

Your midwife or obstetrician may encourage different positions to assist in the descent and rotation of your baby during labour.

Researching different birth positions prior to labour is useful to help you understand the various benefits of positions.

Touch during labour can also be beneficial to relieve pain. Your support person should learn these too, as they will be the one delivering this care.

Document and discuss your birth plan

You may have many ideas of how you would like your birth to progress. 

It is important to discuss these ideas with your obstetrician and midwives prior to labour. While your care team hopes to support your birth plan, your safety and the safety of your baby are our first priorities.

Sharing your birth plan early enables us to consider and discuss all safe, realistic and possible options for you.

Documenting your birth plan is also useful, as it helps your birth team understand what you are hoping to experience. 

When writing your birth plan consider different scenarios and how you would ideally like to proceed - this will help to prepare you and your birth team.

You may like to review our blog on writing a birth plan.

Be flexible

Depending on how your labour progresses, your initial expectations may need to change. 

Your birth plan should be flexible, as a rigid birth plan may lead to a sense of disappointment if your experience isn’t how you had imagined.

Finally, remember your care team are here to support you. If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to your obstetrician or call our Family Birthing Unit. 

Clinical Midwifery Specialist Shannon Scari
Shannon Scari - Clinical Midwifery Specialist
Shannon Scari is the Clinical Midwifery Specialist at St John of God Mt Lawley Hospital. Shannon brings a wealth of knowledge, including 14 years of experience as a midwife, 20 years of experience as a nurse, and has recently completed her Masters of Health Professions Education at the University of Western Australia.