Perineal Trauma and Massage
Most women will have some sort of trauma (tear) to their perineum during birth, especially if it is their first baby. There is good evidence, however, that perineal massage can reduce or prevent this. It is recommended to start perineal massage from around 35 weeks gestation. For further information on perineal trauma and how to do perineal massage, read here: Reducing your risk of perineal tears (rcog.org.uk)
Your body makes everything you need to feed your baby for the first 6 months in breastmilk. Breastfeeding has many benefits for both you and your baby, but is a skill and can take time to get right, especially if this is your first baby. Ask for support on the postnatal ward and in the early postnatal period from your midwife to help give you the best chance of successfully breastfeeding. For more information on preparing for breastfeeding and feeding in the first few days, visit: Breastfeeding: the first few days – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
For some women, breastfeeding is not right for them and they choose to bottle feed instead. It is important to make choices that work for you and your baby, so having good information to help you make an informed decision about what you would like to do is important.
If you do decide on bottle feeding, it is essential to do so safely. Mimicking breastfeeding as much as possible will also help your baby to feel safe, e.g. limiting the number of people who feed them, holding them close and upright and feeding your baby when they are hungry, not on a timed regime. For more advice, visit: Bottle feeding advice – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Group- B Streptococcus (GBS)
GBS is a bacterium which lives in the vagina and usually doesn’t cause any problems. However, if the numbers bloom and cause an infection, there is potential for them to infect baby which can cause problems. The NHS does not offer routine testing for this, but you can read more in order to decide whether you would like to have a test privately here: GBS in pregnancy and newborn babies – Patient information leaflet (rcog.org.uk)
Understanding your options for labour and birth is an important thing to do while you are pregnant. You don’t know how you or your baby will react to labour, therefore we advise against making a strict birth plan, as this may leave you disappointed. There is no right or wrong way to labour and birth, and what you thought you might want, may change once you are in labour, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. All types of births can be wonderful experiences.
At around 36 weeks, your midwife will discuss your preferences. It is helpful to write these down so that the team caring for you during labour understand what is important to you. We would advise downloading and completing the following form in time for your 36 week midwifery appointment so that you can discuss everything and ask any questions you may have: birth-plan-blank-form-nhs-choices-pregnancy-baby.pdf (www.nhs.uk)
It is important to pack for your labour so that when you are ready to go to the hospital, you can pick up your bag and go. Therefore, pack at least 3 or 4 weeks before your due date. Bear in mind that there isn’t a lot of room in labour and postnatal rooms, so remember, less is sometimes more, and your birth partner can always bring in extra things if you need them.
The NHS have created a useful guide on what to pack here: Pack your bag for labour – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
Safer sleeping for your baby
Once baby is here, there are a few do’s and don’t with regards to how you put your baby to sleep safely. Sleeping on the front or in a ‘sleep-nest’ have both been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or cot death).
For more information on the safest way for you baby to sleep, visit: How to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby – The Lullaby Trust