Talking about “preparing for a normal delivery” might seem strange… that is, if you don’t intend to take control of what can be the most significant experience of your life, of course.

Each childbirth is unique, and you can be sure you won’t forget your delivery. Ever. It’s a memory that lasts a lifetime. Naturally, we want to have a positive memory of it, one that brings you joy, one you recall with nostalgia and pride, not trauma and fear, right?

As a doula
, I often say that if women knew the impact a respectful and positive natural birth could have on their lives and self-esteem, they would undoubtedly prepare much more for this moment. And those who think that “just going through it” is enough to give birth are mistaken. It requires extensive study to truly experience a good birth.

Here are my best tips to help you prepare for childbirth and live this moment with all the magic every women deserve!

doula de parto massagem

Doula tips for preparing for a natural birth or a normal delivery

Study the 3 Stages of Labor

Understanding how labor unfolds, its different stages, and knowing how to recognize the signs of real labor and distinguishing it from false labor is super important as this could help you not only to more easily tell if someone is using misinformation to manipulate your choices, but also to determine when you should go to the hospital, if everything is OK or if you need help.

Knowing when to go to the hospital or when it’s better to stay home puts you in control of your time and delivery, enabling well-informed decisions and avoiding being subject to manipulations like “you need to get a c-section right now or the baby will die.

Familiarize Yourself with Common Medical Interventions

While most childbirths are normal/vaginal births, medical interventions may sometimes be necessary to safeguard the mother or baby (or both). Being aware of these possibilities and discussing them with your doctor, doula, and/or birth team is crucial.


Learn about procedures treated as “routine” and when they are or aren’t genuinely indicated. Procedures such as episiotomy, administration of synthetic oxytocin and saline solution, fasting during labor, Kristeller maneuver, forceps use, real indications for a cesarean, etc.


It’s also worth reading about Obstetric Violence to identify it if someone puts you in this situation.

Write a Birth Plan

Understanding how labor works and which procedures are recommended or not is crucial for creating a comprehensive birth plan that truely represents your choices, wishes, and your needs.

Consider what you want and don’t want during labor and delivery, such as who you want present, pain management preferences, who should cut the umbilical cord, among other preferences.


We have an article on How to Create a Birth Plan and, if you need a Plan B, How to Create a Cesarean Birth Plan. Give it a read, build yours, and when ready, discuss the plan with your doctor or birth team!


Get to Know the Birth Team and the Maternity Ward

If you’re having a home birth, it’s worth interviewing different teams to see who you connect with before hiring the one that will assist you during labor. The same goes for hospital births: it’s very important that you feel confident and comfortable with the doctor who will be assisting you in this intimate moment.

If you’re giving birth in a hospital, I’d strongly recommend you to visit the maternity wards in your area in advance to know what to expect. Try to find out if they use any specific birth plan models, have policies for humanized care, and if the environment is comfortable.


Take a Childbirth Preparation Course

If your state provides perinatal education or childbirth preparation classes, it’s worth participating on it. If that’s not the case in your area or perhaps these classes are too expensive for you, I’d recommend attending an online childbirth preparation course.

This will provide the information you need in an structured and comprehensible way, without the mambo-jambo and exaggerations we normally find when researching by ourselves on the internet. Additionally, you can expect to learn valuable tips on how to deal with labor pain, what are the best positions for childbirth, how to identify signs of labor, etc.

Take Care of Your Physical and Emotional Health

Having both physical and emotional health in check is essential not only for a smoother pregnancy but also for better coping with labor and preventing risks such as preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.


Adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress through relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation can have a significant impact on the way you experience your pregnancy, your labor and even the after-birth. Water aerobics is also a good option to strengthen muscles, improve breathing, and alleviate pregnancy pains.


Prepare Your Maternity Bag

Pack a bag with items you’ll need during your hospital stay, such as comfortable clothes, pajamas, nursing bras, personal hygiene items, and any medications you’re currently taking.


This packing process is also a psychological one, helping the woman prepare for this moment while considering what she may or may not need. Check out our article on what to pack for the maternity ward.


Hire a Doula

If you can afford to hire a Birth Doula, I definitely recommend doing so. A doula will not only help you prepare for childbirth (regardless if is it a homebirth or at the hospital, a natural birth or a real c-section) but also address your questions (and those of your partner if applicable), teach non-pharmacological pain management techniques, and be by your side during labor to provide support and advocate for your choices and rights.


There are also volunteer doulas or those who offer services at a reduced rate, often found on the internet or in regional childbirth groups on Facebook.

parto bebe recem nascido

Plan Postpartum Care

While labor can be laborious (aha!!) and last 1 to 3 days, the postpartum period will last for months. It’s essential to think in advance about the possibilities and resources you’ll have at hand for a smoother transition into motherhood. This also helps bring peace of mind to the moment of childbirth.


Consider who you can rely on to help with care in the first days of the baby (or to entertain older siblings while taking care of the newborn). Think about who can take over or assist with household tasks so that you have adequate rest time. Identify any missing items in the baby’s layette or support materials for the mother, such as a nursing pillow or a rocking chair for breastfeeding.


Remember: every childbirth is unique!

Above all, it’s important to remember that each pregnancy and childbirth is different. Even if you’re not a first-time mom, it’s unlikely that a second or third pregnancy will be identical to the previous one, and the same goes for childbirth. You might have had a long labor in the first and a “quick” one in the second.


Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the advices from your birth team, have regular check-ups during prenatal visits, and, if possible, have the support of a doula. Prepare for childbirth both psychologically and physically.

Doula Aline Rossi

Aline Rossi is the founder and writer behind Villa Mater. Aline is a Brazilian mother expat in Portugal, feminist, certified birth and postpartum doula, having supported dozens of women in home and hospital births, as well as in the transition to motherhood after childbirth. Devoted admirer of Maria Montessori and Paulo Freire works on education and pedagogy.


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    Villa Mater is an information website based on scientific evidence about pregnancy, motherhood and education, with a strong commitment to the rights of women and children.