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Prepping for Labor/ How to get over your (reasonable) fear of labor

Written by sarah pollak


Posted on October 31 2018

We hear all the time from moms who are really truly very scared of labor. If this is you, read on.  If this isn't you, read on.

Preparing for labor and delivery can feel overwhelming.  These Real Moms of SF, LA and Palo Alto Mom's the Word are here to help!  We've got you covered in all things pregnancy and newborn-not just style, because if you're scared and stressed, you just don't look as good!

Read them all, because these are real moms, so, we don't all agree!

Got expectations?  Yeah, let them go. You can plug the destination into Waze, but sometimes recalculating happens and sometimes it tells you to go some route you've never been on before.  That's labor. 

Expect labor to last forever?  We know at least one mama who delivered in the elevator of her building-yep, caught that birth on video! Expect tha you're prepared and it will go quickly?  Yeah, we've all hear (or had) about those 72 hour labors. You can be a little prepared, but anything else is just an illusion.

The average labor lasts approx 7.7 hours according to Robin Weiss.  What does that mean for you?  Not a lot really.  Here's the thing, once you're in labor?  You're in labor!  And- you get a baby at the end!!!

Please note: There is not a right or a wrong way to prepare.  The below are not all in agreement, they are simply individual experiences and thoughts. You do it your way. That's the right way. 


(Mom of a 3 year old, baby boy #2 is due December 27th, she's certain that he will arrive on the 25th! You can find her in our office on Tuesdays and in the Palo Alto shop most Mondays until Dec 7th.)

"The one thing that I could not have managed without was sitting on an exercise/yoga ball.  They had one at the hospital, and it really helped...till they gave me an epidural ( actually 2, they didn't last more than an hour!) and after that I had to stay in bed."


(Has a 39 year old, grand babies is a lactation consultant and can be found Sundays, Mondays, some Tuesdays and some Thursdays in our LA store.)

"A birth plan is so important especially with the first baby. 

Be organized because things never go as you plan.

Have your hospital bag packed. 

Use a whiteboard for any reminders or phone numbers.

Mom is a manager. Be clear about what you want. Dad is the enforcer. He will carry out the plan. Many times the medical staff disregards your wishes. 

Appoint one person to call or text all the family members and friends about any update. Limit group texts.

Appoint one person to take care of food after the baby is here.

Set some boundaries. Let Grandmothers know you need to bond with your new baby and it would really help if they assisted with some routine chores like washing, cooking, and errands.

Have your music on your phone. Come from a place of power. If there is anything you do not like speak up.

Get to know your baby's car seat. Practice adjusting straps and buckles. Don't wait until the last minute.

It's easy. It's time to be apart of a miracle. Note little details so when your child has a birthday you can share their birth story. 39 years ago today I was in labor. My son was born on November 2. And I tell him his birth story every year. "


(Mom of two who can be found on playgrounds, at PTA and Board of Ed events regularly, and in our San Francisco location on Monday and Tuesdays and every other Sunday/Wednesday)

"My advise is sort of different re: birth plan. I think not being to tied to any one thing is important for expectation management. Like, being ok with things going differently than the plan in your mind. 

In terms of actual things to take, I had one of those rice bag things you can throw in the microwave. If there is an essential oil scent that is relaxing and calming for you, also music that you like. "


(Mom of one, birth and post-partum doula who can be found in our San Francisco store Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and every other Saturday)

"Have a birth plan that is clear and short and to the point. Laminate it and attach it to your hospital bed. 

Set up a food train! Friends and family bringing meals throughout the day the first month after birth."


(aka me, mom of two who can be found in the Northern California stores regularly)

"Birth plans are great, but make sure that they are not a set up to feel like a failure.

I really didn't want an epidural.  Until I was in labor and got to the hospital. Then I really wanted an epidural.  I really really didn't want them to screw that fetal monitor into my baby's head. Until they kept losing the heartbeat on the one strapped to my belly. And all that was okay.

Breathing-I did more meditative two part breathing throughout labor which helped.

And a nurse encouraged me to moan and do it loudly - and that really helped.  And music.  And definitely an eye pillow, mine was lavender filled which I liked. I'd say a massage ball but I can still hear the tennis ball bouncing as I threw it across the delivery room screaming 'This isn't working!' but if someone in the room can give a good shoulder or foot massage that helps. And, if finances allow or you can find a non-profit offering one, get a doula.  I didn't, but if I had it to do over again I would."

You will get through. 

And there are good odds that you'll even do it again!  Don't spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for the unkown, that has the potential to do more harm than good. 

As in life, surround yourself with people whom you trust and feel comfortable with. 

And prepare to welcome this tiny fully formed human into the world with love.


(We will also point out that when we asked the moms of Mom't the Word what they thought were the best ways to prepare for delivery there were a lot of mentions of how to prepare for making sure that you are taken care of in the days and weeks following labor, so, there's something to focus on ad actually plan for!  Do it!  Your body will go through labor, the next few weeks after labor, with a newborn, can be harder. If you had a C-section, planned or unplanned, that's major surgery and you have a newborn too! Check back for more tips on parenting from the moment of conception onward.)

IRL in store Real Mom additions:

from Jen:  If you want pain management, tell them that you are in pain before you are in pain, like the minute you walk into the hospital, like voting in Chicago, early and often.

from Cathy (age 41): I had been afraid of labor since I'd realized that I wanted children-at like sixteen. Ask for a board certified anesthesiologist. If I'd known it was going to be that easy I would have had six!

from Ellen: Remember: There are a lot of professionals in the room.  I am not controlling this.  That's okay. 





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