I’m a bit of a list lover… okay, that’s an understatement. I am obsessed with lists. Writing them makes me feel like I’m a little more in control and it helps me to sort my thoughts out.
When it came to pregnancy, labour, birth, the fourth trimester and general motherhood craziness, I turned to lists to help me keep track of things, to get my thoughts across and to help those around me during times when I wasn’t the greatest at communicating my wants and needs.
I had lists for just about everything, but these are the ones that helped me the most. And when my labour started, the lists were ready, and I didn’t have to worry about using my thinking brain and could just switch off and focus on my birthing brain (you can’t use them both at once…).
These are lists you can write too, use as inspiration for lists of your own, and just make them into whatever you need them to be in order to prepare yourself for labour and birth, so when the day comes, you can surrender yourself to the amazing birthing process.
1 – The ‘Before Labour’ To Do List
I have to admit, this list kept getting longer and longer, and to be completely honest, it didn’t all get done. But that’s okay, because a lot of it was little things that didn’t need to be done.
Because a large part of this list needed to be done by my husband, and as much as I’d like to think he should be able to read my pregnant mind, he didn’t know which were the priorities, I had to come up with a system so he knew that this wasn’t a ‘start from the top’ list.
To this, I simply put a number next to each item. A #1 priority was ‘must be done as soon as possible’. A number #4 priority was ‘I probably won’t even notice if it doesn’t get done’. All the items on the list ended up somewhere one this scale.
2 – The ‘During Labour’ To Do List
This was honestly the most valuable list I think I could have written. I knew as soon as I realised I was in labour there would be a million things on my mind, and I would feel like I needed to do them all. So I wrote a list of things that needed to be done so those who were supporting me could do them.
In my early labour, I called my mum and she came to help, my husband knew I needed things done but having this gave them both a list to work through and I didn’t have to think about it at all.
I wrote it a few weeks earlier and added to it as things arose. I printed it out and put it on my fridge so I didn’t have to go searching for it. If you look at the picture closely you can see where my mum has ticked things off as she went along.
You can also see where I had left blank spaces so I could keep adding to the list if I needed to.
3 – The List Of Things To Do To Help Me During Labour
Researching what had helped other women through their labours, knowing what made me relax and trialling things to relax leading up to my labour helped me work out what I could use.
Things on my list included positions, movements, cuddling my husband, warm water, cool washers, using my birth ball to rock my hips and a whole lot of other tactics too.
Having this list meant that my husband and my support people would refer to the list whenever they noticed I was struggling or needed to change things up, they could refer to the list and try something they knew would help me.
Having a list like this for yourself is great for your birth support team, and you can even give a copy to your midwife so you are all on the same page.
This was my list that was also on my fridge during labour.
4 – The ‘In My Freezer’ List
Good nutrition is important, we all know that, but it is so incredibly important after you have a baby. Yes, the box of Maltesers is great too, but you are recovering from a marathon and a major event, your body is healing, and at the same time, you are producing nourishment for your baby.
It’s a big demand on your body, and therefore it needs to be fuelled well.
One of the best ways to prepare is to stock your freezer with a whole heap of ready to go meals and snacks for the days and weeks after birth. Keep a list of what is in your freezer so you’ll know what you have on hand.
Also, if you have friends or family who ask what they can do to help, adding a meal or two to your freezer is a great request to make (and an easy one for them to do too!).
5 – The ‘Who To Call’ List
You may not actually want to call anyone when you go into labour and that’s totally okay, I still highly suggest keeping a list of important numbers of people to call close by, for before, during and after your labour and birth.
People on your list could include your Midwife/s, Maternity Ward, a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC, very handy to have post-birth), someone to come and collect your children, or your pets, or anyone else you’ve arranged to do something for you and help in some way.
Who to call, their details, and why you need to call them are details that will help anyone who needs to use this list if you aren’t able to or don’t really want to be on the phone.
6 – The ‘Things To Do In The First 24 Hours’ List
This list was more of a reminder for myself than anything else, it included things like rest, nap, eat, feed, slow down… you might also want to include things like creating a birth announcement, taking a particular photo, calling family and/or friends.
The first 24 hours after birth are so euphoric, you’re in an oxytocin haze and things hurt, but you’re so in love and it’s just a blur. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was impossible to think clearly. Having a list meant I didn’t have to think clearly.
The one thing I always wish I had more of is photos. I have a fair few of my daughter from the first 24 hours, but I wish I had more of her and I. At the time I didn’t feel like having my photo taken, but looking back now I wish I had more.
7 – The Affirmations and Reminders List
I’m including Affirmations here because they’re like a list of reminders, or a list of phrases that can help you prepare for your birth, can help you in your labour, and can be reassuring and comforting after birth.
We love affirmations so much we created our own. We have both digital and printed affirmations for birth, as well as ones for caesarean birth, breastfeeding, motherhood, and even some for the dads or support person too!
Affirmations were so powerful for me during labour, they helped remind me of my strength, they reminded me that my body was built for this, and they helped me keep my mind on track and at peace.
You can create affirmations in any way that works for you. You could use cards like ours, you could write your own, or even keep a list that of phrases and reminders you love and want your husband or support person to say to you throughout labour (I had my husband and Caitlin say to me over and over that, I could do anything for 60 seconds, it was very powerful).
When it comes to creating lists to help you prepare for labour and birth, you can be as elaborate or simple, creative or straightforward as you want.
Write lists for anything and everything and get as much out of your head as possible so when the time comes, you can surrender to the process and not have to think about who is going to look after the dog or what you’ll be eating for dinner.