How I’m preparing for childbirth

preparing for childbirth second pregnancy

“Mama has a big big big big belly!” Peeper shouted the other morning as I went to lift her out of the crib. In fact, that was the very first thing out of her mouth. And it’s the first thing that crosses my mind when I wake up in the morning.

If anything reminds me that I’ll soon be giving birth to our second daughter, it’s this giant belly—the bump that takes up so much room, there’s no place for Peeper to sit on my lap anymore. (Never fear, though; we still read and read and read—she just sits next to me most of the time.)

When I was pregnant with Peeper, Eric and I attended a childbirth preparation class at the hospital where we’d deliver. Most first-time parents do, and I learned a lot. Although some of the exercises were a little ridiculous (FYI, holding an ice cube in your hand does NOT mimic the discomfort of labor!), it was helpful overall and I’d recommend it to other parenting newbies.

This go around, though, I didn’t need a primer on the different stages of labor or what our pain relief options would be. I’m prepping for childbirth, then, in a little different way. Here’s how.

Reading. I already know what to expect, so my reading list has changed since my first pregnancy. Currently on my bedside table:

  • Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh. I appreciate the Kundalini yoga instructor’s take on pregnancy, which was less medically oriented and more about gently transitioning into motherhood. Yes, I’m already a mama, but I welcomed the reminders (and the short-short chapters!).
  • HypnoBirthing by Marie Mongan. This childbirth technique/philosophy is founded on the idea that much of the pain of labor and delivery stems from fear and resistance: that the body’s physiological reaction to fear fights the opening and relaxation needed for a smooth birth. That idea resonated with me, as I was definitely scared—really scared—during Peeper’s birth. The book is full of techniques, which are pretty much mindfulness meditations, meant to make labor easier on mama and baby.
  • Siblings without Rivalry by Adele Farber and Elaine Mazlish. It’ll be a while before Peeper and Kiwi are arguing over who borrowed whose skirt, but I wanted to adopt techniques to keep the peace early. I found the book’s format a little odd (it basically recounts the author’s experiences teaching a class), but it makes for a quick read, and the illustrations and chapter recaps are helpful for remembering the various tips.

Breathing. Of course I breathe, but I’ve been practicing HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during contractions (or, as the program calls them, uterine surges) and whenever I remember—like when I’m trying to fall asleep. I’m hoping that all the practice will make the breathing techniques second nature by the time I go into labor.

Meditating. I’ve never been big into meditation—I always found my monkey mind jumped around to a million to-do tasks, leaving me more flustered than when I began—but a calm, inward focus is helping me connect to this baby.

Most of the day, my attention is on my toddler or my work or the bajillion things I can never catch up to. But a few times a day—especially right before bed—I tune into Kiwi. I send her love or talk to her in my head. I dab lavender essential oil on my chest and deepen my breathing. I imagine my breaths are waves rolling in and out like the tide. Or I envision myself as a tree, drawing in strength from the ground with each inhale and exhaling stress.

Perhaps it sounds woo-woo, but it really helps. I also plan to draw on these techniques during labor.

Letting go. Well, this one is aspirational. I alternate between wanting to DO ALL THE THINGS and just throwing up my hands and saying eff it. We still have a long list of nest-y things to do, like paint and put up those shelves that have been sitting in the garage for, oh, four months, but I’ve (sort of) made peace with the fact most of them won’t happen.

So I’m prioritizing. We recently set up a new desk in the office, which is necessary for my work, and I started packing my hospital bag (which is much lighter the second time around!). Today I brought in the infant car seat to clean and install. These things are important; sewing a baby quilt can wait.

I figure letting go is great practice for when I have two kids: I simply won’t have time or energy to do it all—or even half the stuff I want to do—so I’ll be a pro at letting things slide in no time.

I’m curious—if you have kids, how did you prepare for childbirth? Was prepping for later kids different from your first?

0 thoughts on “How I’m preparing for childbirth

  • July 2, 2015 at 10:33 am
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    With my second, the preparation was much more practical. Since I already knew what to expect in childbirth (and, in fact, my second delivery was much easier than my first for a number of reasons), I felt that I had to be more prepared at home the second time around as I would have TWO children to watch.

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  • July 2, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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    The Siblings Without Rivalry book is fabulous. One of the few parenting books I would recommend. I don’t remember how I prepped for my second. I remember not prepping at all for my third, and the night before induction scrambling to find the booklet they give you at that parenting class that talks about the stages of labor. You are getting close – best wishes for your delivery!

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    • July 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm
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      Thank you, Ali! And I got that book from the library on YOUR recommendation! You mentioned it in a blog post at some point and I requested it.

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  • July 2, 2015 at 1:27 pm
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    The Siblings Without Rivalry book is fabulous. One of the few parenting books I would recommend. I don’t remember how I prepped for my second. I remember not prepping at all for my third, and the night before induction scrambling to find the booklet they give you at that parenting class that talks about the stages of labor. You are getting close – best wishes for your delivery!

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    • July 2, 2015 at 2:19 pm
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      Thank you, Ali! And I got that book from the library on YOUR recommendation! You mentioned it in a blog post at some point and I requested it.

      Reply
  • July 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm
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    I LOVED HypnoBirthing! The encouragement to relax and breathe really helped me during labor. I hope it is helpful for you too!

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    • July 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm
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      Thanks Marsha! I’m really hopeful but trying to not be too attached to one idea of how this labor will go. I figure having those skills can only come in handy, though!

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  • July 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm
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    I LOVED HypnoBirthing! The encouragement to relax and breathe really helped me during labor. I hope it is helpful for you too!

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    • July 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm
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      Thanks Marsha! I’m really hopeful but trying to not be too attached to one idea of how this labor will go. I figure having those skills can only come in handy, though!

      Reply
  • July 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm
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    Ah, “let it go” is my daily mantra, especially after kids, and I hate that that silly Disney movie ruined it for me 😉 I can’t remember what, if anything, I did differently in preparation for my second child, but I do remember being less stressed out, probably because I had less time to be agonizing over every little worry with a toddler to take care of! SO excited for you! Sending happy healthy birthing vibes your way! 🙂

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    • July 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm
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      Thank you Marlynn! Funny enough, I still haven’t seen Frozen, so I guess the phrase isn’t ruined for me—yet!

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  • July 2, 2015 at 6:39 pm
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    Ah, “let it go” is my daily mantra, especially after kids, and I hate that that silly Disney movie ruined it for me 😉 I can’t remember what, if anything, I did differently in preparation for my second child, but I do remember being less stressed out, probably because I had less time to be agonizing over every little worry with a toddler to take care of! SO excited for you! Sending happy healthy birthing vibes your way! 🙂

    Reply
    • July 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm
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      Thank you Marlynn! Funny enough, I still haven’t seen Frozen, so I guess the phrase isn’t ruined for me—yet!

      Reply
  • July 2, 2015 at 7:57 pm
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    That second baby is so much less stressful. .. at least before she arrives. 😉 I totally agree with Marlynn – let it go. Don’t sweat the small stuff – it is so not worth it. Just love your babies and it all turns out just fine.

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  • July 4, 2015 at 6:46 am
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    I feel like I”m going through my first time of having two young ones again. I can’t even remember what it was like 14 years ago so yes we’re walking through it all over again and there are days where I wonder how I survived the first time!

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    • July 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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      I know, right? When they had us do it in class, I looked around the room at everyone wondering, do they all think this is BS too?

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    • July 4, 2015 at 1:42 pm
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      I know, right? When they had us do it in class, I looked around the room at everyone wondering, do they all think this is BS too?

      Reply
  • July 6, 2015 at 9:37 am
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    I missed this last week when you posted it, but now I am SO GLAD I went back and read through it. GREAT POST! I am definitely pinning this for whenever my mama time comes. Its interesting to think of the pain of labor coming from the fear and resistance that a mom might be feeling during that highly intense time of labor and delivery. I can’t wait to see if they have any of these books at the library 🙂 Thanks for sharing, as always. Cheers!

    Reply
    • July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am
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      Thanks for your note! Every labor and delivery is different, but I figure having more tools to make it easier/less scary is always better!

      Reply
  • July 6, 2015 at 9:37 am
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    I missed this last week when you posted it, but now I am SO GLAD I went back and read through it. GREAT POST! I am definitely pinning this for whenever my mama time comes. Its interesting to think of the pain of labor coming from the fear and resistance that a mom might be feeling during that highly intense time of labor and delivery. I can’t wait to see if they have any of these books at the library 🙂 Thanks for sharing, as always. Cheers!

    Reply
    • July 6, 2015 at 11:52 am
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      Thanks for your note! Every labor and delivery is different, but I figure having more tools to make it easier/less scary is always better!

      Reply
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