By Guest Blogger Becky Hale, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator

Are you pregnant and currently stuck at home, practicing social distancing, or completely isolating yourself, doing your part to flatten the curve? Here are ten things you can do right from your couch or your home to help you prep for birth!

1. Work On A Birth Plan/Preferences

Some people call them birth plans, I like to call them birth preferences (since birth can sometimes be hard to plan for) but you and your partner can work on this list from the comfort of your couch. What should a birth preferences list include? That’s up to you, but could include things like plans for medicated pain relief, unmedicated pain relief options, desires for cord clamping, preferences for movement in labor, using hydrotherpy, etc…  Be sure to take your list of birth preferences to your next visit with your care provider, to discuss. Doula tip–keep your birth plan to one page. Here’s are a few links to some templates to make your birth planning lists easy:

2. Order and Try Out a Birth Ball

Don’t already have a birth ball?  It’s a good time to order one. You can typically find birth balls online at major retailers, such as Amazon or Target.  Make sure to buy one with a pump, or order a pump separately. When it arrives, blow it up and give it a whirl! (I mean, don’t literally whirl on it, though). Check out this link for some suggestions on how to use a birth ball in pregnancy, labor and birth, and even after you have your baby. (Birth ball+You=a great way to soothe a fussy baby)

3. Pack Your Birth Bags

Even if it’s too early to pack your bags, you can start planning.  Remember, your partner needs to pack for themselves too! Want a copy of our favorite packing list?  Doula packing tip: Bring your own pillows for you and your partner!

4. Watch “The 3 R’s” by Penny Simkin

This is a favorite video to show in childbirth class and discuss with clients!  I am a firm believers in the three R’s-Ritual, Rhythm,and Relaxation. Want to check it out?  You can rent it for 4.95 to view online here. Keep in mind, this is old home video footage from the mid 90’s, so it may be a bit humorous to watch, but the content is so important.  Disclaimer–there is graphic birth footage towards the end of this video.

5. Make A Postpartum Plan

Most people think about making a birth plan, but very few consider making a postpartum plan.  I think a postpartum plan is just as important, if not MORE important, than a birth plan. What’s a postpartum plan?  It’s making plans with your partner and family, for after your baby is born. It’s amazing how your new little bundle of joy will change everything so quickly. And since many of us are isolating, it will be even more important to make these plans now. Family coming in to visit or help out might not be an option. Do you have all of your postpartum supplies for yourself? (Pads, peri bottle, comfy nursing clothes, padsicles) Do you have plenty of nourishing foods stocked, or a partner who is planning to cook?  The ingredients to cook with? Do you have your diaper stash ready, whether cloth or disposable? (Did you know we have a local cloth diaper service in the Winston-Salem/Piedmont Triad area?) Do you have important numbers printed out and on hand, like lactation consultants, pediatrician, OB or midwife? Who can you call and talk to when you feel like you need to reach out for help? Here is a great template you can print out and use, from Dona International.  Keep in mind, some of this may need to be adjusted while we work to Flatten The Curve during this time of COVID-19.

6. Figure Out Your Breast Pump

At a recent mom group meet up, a mom shared that she wished she had figured out how to put together and use her breast pump, BEFORE her baby was born.  Check out your pump! Read the manual, search YouTube videos about your pump, figure out how to put it together and how best to clean and sterilize it.

7. Make A Birth Playlist

While there are actually COVID-19 playlists going around, take some time to make your playlist for labor and birth. What kind of songs should you add? Put on music that motivates you, moves you, that you know well and can sing along with.  Music you can dance to, or sway with. Put a variety of songs on your playlist, so you can skip around as needed.

8. Read Articles at Evidence Based Birth

Evidence Based Birth is a great website.  You can find a wide variety of articles, and most content is free.  Read about topics such as eating and drinking in labor, water birth, estimated due dates, inductions and more.  The site is easy to read and navigate. Click here to be taken to the parents page of the site.

9. Listen to a Birth Podcast

Grab a cup of tea, your ear buds, put your feet up and relax while you listen to a birth podcasts.  There are several out there you can tune into, such as The Birthful PodcastThe Birth Hourand Evidence Based Birth.

10. Have a Virtual Visit With a Doula

While we are all staying in and away from people as much as possible, we can be incredibly grateful that we have the internet! Many doulas are currently offering virtual doula prenatal planning “visits”. In a virtual visit, you can learn about birth planning/preferences, postpartum planning, what to expect at the hospital, how your partner can best support you, questions to ask your care provider, discuss comfort techniques for labor, suggest exercises to help if you are anxious about labor and more.

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