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Preparing for a positive birth experience

Becoming a parent is considered to be a joyful life event. But it can also be difficult.

In the early weeks and months of life with a first baby, you must learn new skills such as:

You may be getting very little sleep while you learn these new skills.

These changes can be challenging and unexpected. The transition to becoming a parent is a major change and you need time to adjust.

Preparing your body for labour and birth

Life with a newborn baby

Preparing for birth

After the baby arrives, your life is going to change. It helps to make some preparations in advance.

Talk to other parents and your healthcare team

Talk to other parents about their labours and births. Talk to your midwives and doctor about the type of experience you may have. You might find it helpful to go on a tour of the birthing suite. Think about who you would like as your birth partner or companion.

Getting organised

If you have other children, think about childcare arrangements and make preparations for when you are in hospital.

Make a list of the things you may need for your baby. Prepare a safe place for your baby to sleep at home.

For at least the first six months your baby should sleep in your room.

Try and get things organised at work a few weeks before your maternity leave starts, just in case you go into labour before your due date.

Ask for help

Ask family and friends for help, especially during the first few weeks with a newborn. You may find it helpful to prepare food in advance and freeze it. This can simply be reheated after the baby is born

Mental and emotional preparation to give birth

Having a baby is an emotional process. Your mental wellbeing needs as much attention as your physical health.

There are many people and services to prepare you for giving birth and support you afterwards.

For example, your:

  • midwife
  • public health nurse (PHN)
  • obstetrician
  • GP
  • family and friends

Non-urgent advice: Talk to your GP, midwife or obstetrician if:

  • you feel very anxious about giving birth
  • it is affecting your life

Prepare a birth plan and alternatives that you can give to your midwife.

Attending antenatal classes will also help you learn what to expect during:

Mentally rehearse what labour might be like for you but be open to the unexpected. Some women find visualisation techniques help during labour. For example, picturing a flower opening with every contraction.

Pregnancy yoga, pilates or hypnobirthing classes can help you learn breathing and relaxation techniques.

Surround yourself with support. Find people you can trust to talk to.

Page last reviewed: 4 January 2023
Next review due: 4 January 2026