If you’re on the final countdown to D-Day, here’s our guide to help you be prepared.
Three weeks to go
Use this time to pamper yourself, but, more importantly, to rest and get plenty of sleep! During this time you might find that you have a sudden burst of energy and you’ll find yourself clearing out cupboards and scrubbing floors. Don’t panic! This nesting instinct is quite normal and may even be a sign that you’re about to go into labour. Just don’t overdo it and tire yourself out. It also goes without saying that you should avoid heavy lifting and climbing up ladders!
Your ‘to do’ list:
- Pack your hospital bag for both you and baby (see sidebar)
- Store numbers for the maternity unit, your midwife and a back-up local taxi firm in your mobile
- Since some hospitals don’t allow mobiles to be used inside the premises, it may be an idea to make a list of loved ones’ phone numbers so that you or your partner can ring them from a pay phone at the hospital.
- Unpack and assemble your baby gear and find out how everything works. File away all the instructions and receipts.
- Hire a TENS machine
- Stock up on nappies, wipes and cotton wool balls.
- Wash all your baby clothes.
- Buy yourself some raspberry leaf tea, which you can get at health food shops. (NB: Don’t drink the tea before the 32-week mark!). Raspberry leaf tea is believed to help tone the uterus and this can result in both a shorter pushing stage and less risk of intervention. Don’t go overboard, however! Start with one cup a day and build up to a maximum of four cups.
Two weeks to go
By this stage of your pregnancy you may be having problems getting comfy and it may be difficult to get to sleep at night. You could try the time-honoured favourite of a warm bath before bed, before lying on your side with a pillow under your bump. Alternatively, you could use a pregnancy pillow. At this time you may also be getting period-like pains or cramps, which are known as Braxton Hicks. These tend to be a ‘trial run’ for your real contractions, but unlike real contractions, these will generally taper off or disappear completely.
Your ‘to do’ list
- Familiarise yourself with the various types of pain relief, which are on offer at the hospital you’re planning to attend. You may, for example, want to use a birthing ball, so it’s vital to make sure that your hospital can provide one. In the event that they don’t, then you’ll need to bring your own.
- Prepare for labour by eating high-energy complex carbohydrates, such as wholewheat pasta, bread and cereals, plus proteins such as chicken, fish and nuts. If you, your partner or any other children suffer from allergic conditions such as eczema, asthma or hayfever, make sure that you avoid all types of nuts at this time.
- If you’re planning to breastfeed, then this is the ideal time to get measured for a nursing bra. You’ll need at least four – choose black, white or flesh-coloured for all occasions.
One week to go
- Stock up the freezer with home-cooked or ready meals. Better still, take advantage of all of those offers of help and get your mother/mother-in-law or other relatives to make them for you!
- Do a dummy run to the hospital so you’ll know how long it takes.
Your due date arrives
Just five per cent of babies arrive when they’re due, so chances are that you may go past your due date. Having said that, your last week of ‘freedom’ – particularly if it is your first baby – is a time for indulging and pampering yourself. Try these fun things to do…..
- Become a ‘lady who lunches’!
- Start taking afternoon naps and catching up on daytime soaps.
- Get a manicure and pedicure.
- Go out to dinner with your partner or friend.
- Buy a really nice, loose outfit to wear for coming home from the hospital. Your tummy will still be swollen and you’ll be fed up looking at maternity clothes!
- Veg out on the sofa and watch your favourite films.
- Read trashy novels in the bath.
- Buy your birth announcement cards and have all the envelopes addressed and stamped!