While it’s good to have an idea of the kind of birth you want, you never know how labor and delivery will go. So know your options and go with the flow. “Flexibility is the name of the game,” says Jill Janke, PhD, RN, WHNP, a professor at the School of Nursing at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. “If what you’re doing isn’t working to manage your pain or facilitate your labor, keep trying different things until you find something that does.” Likewise, if you want an unmedicated delivery and you end up getting an epidural, don’t beat yourself up. “I’ve seen many women get discouraged when they don’t stick to their birth plan,” Downey says. “But each labor is different, and what worked for your friend may not work for you.” Remember: It doesn’t really matter how you get there as long as you have a healthy baby in your arms at the end.
Get tuned in.
Staying focused, especially when the contractions become more intense and it comes time to push, could help you handle the pain better and be more productive. “I’ve found that the ability to focus internally has a lot to do with some women’s success,” Downey says. Her advice: Minimize distractions by turning off your cell phone and logging off of Facebook. Instead, turn on some good music and tune into your body. “Music can help you concentrate your efforts inward and ignore all the activity going on around you,” Downey explains. In the weeks before your due date, pick out some CDs or put together a playlist of songs that will help keep you calm and centered. Just don’t forget to bring a docking station for your iPod or check to see if your birthing room will have a CD player.