Are you taking classes? Which ones?
Reading books or websites?
If you've already given birth, were you prepared? If not, what would you do differently?
We took a class at a local hospital, basic baby techniques. I also took a breastfeeding class and my husband took a "prepping to be a dad" type class for guys, also at the same hospital. I liked the basic class we took together the most.
I'm not sure I was all that prepared, but I don't know if you ever can be. Looking back I should have had more food options ready to go, and asked for more help from family and friends while I was recovering from my C-section.
I took Penny Simkin's class for OOH birth. I was already well educated so it wasn't super fantastic, but it was very good. I was definitely glad I had taken it during labor, I think it really helped me be more prepared and able to deal with it. Even just thinking about finding a rhythm helped me, though I didn't use any of the specific rhythms she taught. To me there's nothing that can replace actually practicing coping techniques with the help of someone who knows how to do them "right".
If you're more of a reader I highly recommend Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn. I thought it was the best book hands-down that I read.
Was I prepared? I don't think you can be. No one knows what your labor will be like. Mine was really hard and fast and intense. I had a hard time coping for parts of it. I was VERY VERY VERY glad I had a doula, she was able to tag-team my husband so that I never noticed a break in support. I LOVE my doula, Lauren Strain, and can't recommend her highly enough if you're looking!
I also took Penny's Out of Hospital class. It was great to practice techniques with DH and I loved seeing videos of actual labors and births since I had no prior firsthand experience. DH thought it was incredibly boring and read the book or slept most of the time he wasn't physically helping, but we both came out of the first class agreeing to hire a doula. While we didn't really need her, again, it was great preparation. Rebecca Shepherd of Sacred Sprout Doula Services is terrific!
She gave me some videos, Orgasmic Birth and The Amazing Newborn that I watched sometime in the last days before DD came and a cd with a hypnobirthing/meditation on it that I also randomly listened to and helped me relax and feel more confident during those last few days.
I also read a ton (the new Pregnancy Childbirth and the Newborn is awesome. I enjoyed Ina May's books and Sheila Kitzinger. The rest were all pretty much the same. And I watched the Business of Being Born at some point early in my pregnancy.
I think prenatal yoga helped me the most. Feeling connected with other PG women and practicing relaxation on a weekly basis while knowing what I was going through was normal helped me the most. Collette Crawford at Seattle Holistic Center is amazing.
When labor came, I used mostly deep breathing to get through the early part and then DH and my doula did some double hip squeezing. Then I hung out in the tub. Overall, I felt very prepared for labor, but not the pushing part or placenta delivery. And I was not at all prepared for how long it would take me to recover physically from an uncomplicated vaginal birth.
We did the Lamaze Getaway Weekend. It was really great to focus on it together as a couple for a dedicated weekend. It covered everything and while I didn't totally get it while there, it all made sense when I was in labor. The instructor is great, we still stay in contact with a few of the other families we met there.
We also took a newborn care and breastfeeding class offered at our work through the hr/benefits program. Very convenient to do over a long lunch. I liked the breastfeeding class.
As for doing differently, it turns out I was having back spasms with each contraction (from an old injury) so I am hoping to have a tens unit this time to help with that. We also will have a doula this time since we won't have a midwife there all the time. I also don't want an IV - might have to push back on this because I think it is standard at the hospital I am at (different than #1). I am not sure if we are doing to do a refreser course or not.
I'm a first-timer, so no experience yet! We're registered to take the classes that are included in the Welcome Baby package at Swedish (where I'll be delivering). I am also looking into a breastfeeding support group.
We are new to Seattle (from the east coast) and don't have any local family, so not expecting to have a lot of help available after baby gets here. I am planning on freezing meals ahead of time so we don't have to cook when baby is first home.
For #1 we did a 12 week Bradley series since we were planning a natural/ OOH birth, and also had my SIL for a doula (highly recc. for 1st timers!). I also did a lot of random reading. I felt really prepared. mostly just by knowing and being used to the process of a birth, so I wasnt ever scared, which I think really helped. Besides that, I think the thing that helped me the most was the relaxation techniques I had learned in yoga many years before, lol!
For #2 I just had DH since I knew there would be a student midwife there too.
We took a 7 week class that covered pretty much everything so I felt pretty prepared to handle the different decisions that needed to be made during my L&D. Also, this community really helped by just hearing all of your stories!
I'm taking birthing classes and bringing home baby classes with dh and a pelvic heath class alone at evergreen. I also might do prenatal yoga if I find a class that fits with my schedule.
Reading ~8 books - 7 of them from the library and random things online