How to Prepare for Childbirth (Labor and Delivery Ultimate Guide)

Learn all you need to know about how you can prepare for childbirth!

Congratulations on your little one, mama! No matter how many children you have, every baby and pregnancy is different. Labor and delivery are never common ground!

Have you been told there’s not much you can do to prepare for childbirth beyond packing your hospital bag and stocking up on diapers?

Well, those are great ways to prepare for childbirth but it’s just a trickle compared to what you could (and should!) be doing to prepare for the big day.

Now I’ll be the first to tell ya, not everything will go according to your plans. But you won’t regret planning the little details.

Here are some tips on how you can prepare for your baby’s arrival.

Preparing for Childbirth – Labor and Delivery

Learn About the Stages of Labor

Labor has been broken down into 3 stages which include the following:

  1. Early and active labor
  2. Pushing
  3. The delivery of your placenta

Learn about each phase and what to expect.


Staying active throughout your pregnancy is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Walking may be less intense than other exercises, but it still has its many advantages in preparing your body for labor and even relieving depression and anxiety.

Check out my article on 9 Best Pregnancy Exercises for Any Trimester!

Take Birthing Classes

Ever met a mommy-to-be who had it all figured out? How about a mom whose given birth to multiple children? The realm of childbirth is like an onion with many layers.

There’s always more you can learn about to help ensure you have a fantastic experience.

There are some excellent online childbirth classes you can take online while you sip hot chocolate in your PJs from the comfort of your home.

I’d recommend you take the class with your partner. There are many benefits to learning with the person that will be supporting you during the labor and delivery process.

My favorite on is the KOPA Birth Class for Natural Birth.

Childbirth classes will teach and expand on the following topics which are especially helpful to new mothers:

  • How to tell if you’re in labor
  • Labor positions
  • Effective breathing and pushing techniques for vaginal births
  • Creating a birthing plan
  • Tips on relaxation
  • Natural and medicated vaginal births
  • Cesarean births
  • High risk pregnancies
  • And more!

I can’t recommend taking a birthing class enough! A lot of these classes have awesome videos to enhance your learning experience.

Don’t wing it, mama.The knowledge, tips, and techniques can be put into practice throughout labor and delivery. But if you don’t equip yourself to prepare for childbirth ahead of time, you won’t have the skills to draw from when you need them most.

Decide Where to Give Childbrith

The majority of women give birth in a hospital or birthing center. An even smaller amount of women choose to have home births.

Do your research to decide what’s best for you. If you’re considering one over the other, ask yourself why. What is important to you?

Weight the pros and cons of each option before making your choice.

Create a Childbirth Plan

In a nutshell, a birthing plan is a basic, pre thought-out outline that defines your wants and desires during labor and delivery. It will help keep you, your support people, and your caregivers absolutely clear on what you want.

Don’t assume you’ll be able to communicate these things clearly (or want to) during active labor.

Creating a written plan ahead of time will lower your stress and bring more ease to everyone involved in helping you deliver your baby.

Here are just a few things you’ll want to include:

  • Do you want to be given pain medication?
  • Who should your caregivers contact in the case of an emergency?
  • Do you want a water birth? If so, find out the restrictions at your hospital.
  • Do you prefer quiet or soft music during labor? Will you need to provide the music?
  • How many people do you want to be in the room during active labor and delivery?
  • Who will care for your other children while you are in labor? Is there a plan if you go into labor in the middle of the night?
  • Do you want a birthing ball or the ability to take a warm bath while in active labor?
  • Do you want delayed cord clamping?
  • Do you want your baby to be given vaccinations or other medical treatments?

Whether you have a long or short labor process, having several hard copies of your plan ready to go in your hospital bag will make your life so much easier, mama. A lot of times, if you don’t state what you want in advance, the doctors will go with their standard procedures.

Consider Having a Doula

Doulas are amazing! In some cases, their care is covered by your insurance up to a certain number of visits before, during, and after you give birth.

As they take the time to learn about your birthing desires and health conditions to help you prepare for childbirth, they make for your best advocates during labor and delivery!

A doula is there there to support you physically, emotionally, and give you information that will guide you through the birthing process.

Some doulas offer follow up visits after baby is born and additional care services like doing your grocery shopping, helping out with laundry or playing with your older children while you and baby rest.

Pain Medication?

Decide whether or not you want medication to manage the pain. Keep in mind that you cannot be given medication after a certain point in your labor process.

If you do decide to be medicated, get the facts on which medications you’ll be taking as well as the risks and side effects.

Register at the Hospital

This will save you some time doing paperwork which lets the hospital know who you are, your insurance info, as well as your employment and emergency contact information. It’s just one less thing for you to do later.

Pack Your Hospital Bag

This is the fun part, mama! Packing your hospital bag brings in more excitement that soon your little one will make his or her appearance. 🙂

There are some basic things you should remember to pack in your bag. Beyond that, you can customize your bag to contain just what you need to feel comfortable during your stay at the hospital or birthing center.

For example, if you cringe at the thought of using hospital toiletries, don’t forget to pack your own. If you have a designated picture-taker, make sure you bring a camera (or phone and charger) so you don’t miss those shots.

Do you love your essential oils? Bring them along! Pack all of your must-haves for both you and baby until you’re discharged to go back home.

Of course, if you’re having a home birth, there’s no need to pack a bag.

Learn Breathing Techniques for Childbirth

If you’re going to give birth vaginally, having the skills to breathe properly will literally save you in both pain and maybe even the amount of time you spend pushing.

There is a right and wrong way to breathe during labor and pushing.

Holding your breath and tensing up in your body is our first human instinct. But it’s not going to help you at all mama.

The more relaxed you are, the more you work with your body to accomplish bringing your precious baby into this world.

Tour the Hospital

Touring the hospital may not seem like a big deal, but it can actually put you at ease after you understand how things will work during your childbirth and stay. You’ll be able to understand critical details such as:

  • Where the best location is to be dropped off during active labor so the nurses can get you into triage
  • How meals work for you and guests
  • How long is the standard stay for a vaginal birth? For cesarean?
  • You can ask questions… at what point during labor should you give your birth plan to your care providers?
  • Will you stay in one room during your entire stay or will you be transferred?
  • Is there a pull-out couch for guests?
  • Visiting guidelines (how many people can be in the room during your delivery?)
  • What is the hospital security process?
  • Where will guests park, and does it cost money?

Learn About Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

No mother wants to imagine she would have postpartum anxiety or depression (or both!) after welcoming in her little bundle of joy. But the truth is, there’s no way to know ahead of time if you’ll experience those symptoms.

You’ll have your hands full after you’ve had your baby so it may be worthwhile to read up on different ways to cope.

Knowing who your support people are, making financial arrangements and learning as much as you can about the topic are all smart ways to prepare for this new season in your life.

I find it uplifting to read and hear testimonies from other women who have suffered but also overcome.

Avoid Stress

You’ve come this far in your pregnancy and you’re about to experience one of the most precious moments in your life!

Giving birth to another human is nothing short of a miracle! Sadly, there is always someone around every corner that doesn’t quite understand that.

Some people will try to impose their negative views and opinions on you. Others will mean well but not realize how their approach to helping you is actually a bit overwhelming and stressful.

Such situations often call for you to distance yourself in order to remain mentally and emotionally healthy.

Decide Who You Want in the Delivery Room

Your baby is about to be born. Family and friends may ask (or even assume) to be present in the room while you’re giving birth. If you don’t want certain people in there, make that clear ahead of time.

As a side note, it’s totally normal for new mothers to not want visitors dropping by to see her and the baby until after she’s settled in at home. 

Think about what you want, and don’t feel guilty.

Say No to Negativity

Don’t fill your ears with other people’s negative childbirth stories and everything that could go wrong.

Surround yourself with people who will support your birthing choices to help you prepare for childbirth. If your friends are telling you not to do a homebirth after that’s what you’ve decided, maybe it’s time to distance yourself from them for a while so that you can focus and stay encouraged.

Choose to stay positive and enter labor with confidence by building yourself up in knowledge, affirmations, faith, as well as tools and skills to help you.

Arrange Care for Your Other Children

If you have older children, you’ll want to have a plan of who will care for them when you go into labor.

Will that person be on call 24/7 just in case you go into labor in the middle of the night? What if they are working when you go into labor…will they be able to take off work to care for your children?

Perhaps it may be wise to have a couple potential caregivers on stand-by. Especially if one person is limited in the care they can give to your other children.

Think about your children’s financial needs, meals, activities, school drop off and pick up information, and packing an overnight bag with all the essential items your children will need.

Plan for Baby Pictures

Want to capture those adorable pictures during the first couple of days after your baby arrives? There may be professional photographers that work with your hospital to give your baby a little fashion show.

You’ll get gorgeous images of your newborn. Find out the pricing ahead of time so you can factor that into your budget.

Additional Tips

Preparing for your baby is no easy task, so be kind to yourself. Don’t feel you have to do all of this in one day or week. Here are a few more things you can do to make your transition back home a bit more comfortable.

  • Prepare freezer meals and stock up on paper plates and plastic silverware (at least for the first 6 weeks)
  • Organize your home
  • Have baby’s car seat properly installed before you even give birth

Prepare for Childbirth

I know it’s a lot of information, mama. But don’t feel overwhelmed, just tackle one or two things at a time. Just remember that doing some preparations is better than doing nothing at all.

Making arrangements and preparing now will help you relax a bit more later on. Just be ready to adapt in situations where it may not be possible to go with your plan.

Your little one will be here soon, mama! Just remember to keep your joy and stay positive. To the best labor and delivery ever! 🙂

Over to you, mama. What preparations have I missed in this article? Let me know in the comments below.

Remember to pin me!

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