One of my favorite things to do as I get closer to having the baby is creating my birth space. A place that will remind me that I am incredibly strong and capable.
Creating a birth space
First of all, remember that this is about you as a birthing woman, and what appeals to you. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of Pinterest worthy ideas online. Each one was beautifully photographed. Honestly, there are many breathtaking images that I think would be lovely, but wouldn’t make me personally feel comfortable or relaxed. Candles? Twinkle lights? These may speak to your heart. If so, get some! Go to town. Decorate, and create a beautiful nest of flickering, twinkling lights. Some of you are already planning your shopping trip and where to get these items.
For some of you who are more about function like me, comfort is in knowing that all porous surfaces are covered in plastic and won’t be permanently stained by blood. Cheap plastic shower curtains OR tablecloths are your friend. A waterproof mattress cover can be expensive, but putting an extra shower curtain under your sheets can give you just as much protection those last few weeks of pregnancy. You’ll smile when you hear the “crinkling” and know that it means your mattress will stay dry should your water break unexpectedly in the night.
Things to consider for all birthing women, functional or fanciful alike, your senses will be heightened during labor. Smell. Touch. Taste. Vision. Hearing. Be careful as you prepare your space that you don’t introduce an element that is hard to remove if it becomes too intense.
Scented candles normally lift your spirits, and lavender is your favorite scent? What if it smelled like a whole bottle of lavender was sprayed over everyone and everything? You may have to leave the room you hoped to birth in because the smell is too strong, and you can’t get rid of it quickly!
An option, put a drop of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball or a wash cloth. Smell it when you find it helpful, remove it when it’s too much. Peppermint is a good choice to keep handy because it can help with the nausea many women experience in transition. (It also helps cover up the smell of vomit) If you are using candles, choose unscented ones. Get, and keep, an extra NEW toothbrush and toothpaste handy (or mint gum?) for anyone who might be present. Their breath may smell fine to the average Joe Schmo, but to you they haven’t brushed in a year.
No matter how cuddly you are with your spouse, labor and birth may change you into a completely different person who does NOT want to be touched! On the flip side, back labor may have you begging for anyone to press HARD on your lower back through each and every contraction. It’s hard to know what you’ll like. One or two tennis balls in a stocking or sock can be used by a helper to put pressure where you need it, or roll around on your back to relax muscles, and it gives more pressure than a fist. Life
Depending on how long labor takes, you may or may not feel like eating or drinking. For me, cold water was a MUST. I was so thankful my husband brought me a glass with a straw. Straws are easier to drink through and someone else can hold the glass! Once I reach transition I don’t want to eat or drink anything. However some women have labored so long they are quite literally out of fuel and lack the energy to go on.
Transferring to the hospital because of maternal fatigue is not unheard of. So think in advance of a few easy to digest sources of quick energy that you can keep handy. Honey and or peanut butter is a wonderful option. Though it may not sound delicious at the time, having a spoon full of honey may just be the difference between gathering your energy and pushing the baby out and heading to the hospital.
Light. Or rather the absence of too much light is good for birthing. Think dim candle light, and you’re in the right realm for birthing. Pretty sure my home births took place in dimly lit rooms. I don’t really know. Honestly, I wasn’t paying attention. But keep in mind if you have a birth photographer coming that light will be a big part of whether the photos turn out beautifully or they are grainy and dark. If candle light is part of your dream birth, ask the photographer if they would come over and do some test photos in the space you hope to birth in. Just something to keep in mind.
Some women put up birth affirmations on the wall. “You can do this” “One minute at a time” “You were made for this” “You and your baby are working together” Make sure if you have these that you put them close enough to where you plan to labor that you can actually see and read them. Don’t make the writing too small, or the sentiments too long. OR have someone read them to you! They are a beautiful way to keep you encouraged and make the space feel more special and purposful.
Making a music play list is a very popular idea in the birth world right now. Go for it! Plan away. But keep in mind that you might find yourself listening to the same song on repeat for 5 hours because it’s what you want. Warn your husband. “No talking through contractions” might become the most important rule you suddenly create and impose on the room. Sounds matter. If you live in an apartment and find yourself laboring during the day with construction happening right outside your window… I’m sorry. That sucks. I don’t know what to say or advise. But just know, I feel for you and I’m sorry, and it’ll all be over soon…
On the flip side YOU might be making a lot of noise! Are you worried the neighbors will hear and call the police? In all the hundreds/thousands of birth stories I’ve read this actually has happened. Once. Maybe twice. Sorry, but it’s true. If you’re truly worried someone will come to the door unexpected, unannounced, and worried, then put a sign on your door to tell them what’s going on. “Baby in-process of being born. Sorry for the disturbance.” And I doubt anyone will barge in on you.
Birth space ideas
When creating your “nest” for birthing, it’s easy to get caught up in the ideas of what will look beautiful in pictures. It’s wise, however, to consider what will be important to YOU as you’re laboring. Again, if you have a photographer, make sure they can get the light levels right so the pictures turn out! Take whatever time you want to create a beautiful, luxurious space.
Do a “test run” and set everything up to see how long it takes. (Psssst! This is EXTRA important if you want a water birth – because those hose connectors to the hot water heater are the wrong shape/size/something more often than you’d think! And, even if the connectors are right, water pressure and time make it take way longer than you’d think…)
Think of the practical things as well as beautiful things. Do I really want *these* towels to possibly get stained? If I want to pace the halls will I stain the carpet? (Depends undergarments after water breaking are wonderful… and chucks pads lining the halls are also wonderful!) Is your bath-robe handy for getting out of the pool? Do you want to wear a bikini top so your birth pictures are sharable? Do you want a clock in the room so you can see what time it was (I wish I did!) or should all clocks be removed?
Creating my birth space provides me a reminder that the baby is coming. It allows me to look over and know that the baby will be welcomed into a place of love.