Wa ‘Alaikum Salaam wa Rahmatulahi wa Barakatuh,
These are all very useful things to think about during (or even before) pregnancy. You are correct that being psychologically prepared for childbirth can make the process a lot easier for a number of reasons.
Uncertainty can be a big cause of distress, and this distress can lead the body to respond in a way that could potentially make childbirth more painful due to tensed muscles, for example. Being more aware of the whole process and your available options can help to reduce this distress and give you some sense of a feeling of control in a situation where your body will take over. This feeling of control can be very empowering, giving you a heightened sense of psychological comfort that you can do it. Doing it in the way you would like will make you feel more comfortable and confident during delivery.
You are doing the right thing to begin with by researching all the different things available and all the different techniques you could choose. You can begin by trying them out now during pregnancy to see how they make you feel so that you know which work best for you. Select a couple of techniques you like as when you are actually in labor, things might change. For some people, they find they make a plan for their delivery, but once they actually enter the stage of childbirth, they feel very differently.
There are many different meditation and relaxation techniques that can be used during childbirth and you could choose to learn them yourself so that you can use them during delivery, or you could buy guided meditations to take you through these exercises. It may be that you find the latter more useful as during labor you may find it more difficult to concentrate and, therefore, having someone verbally talk you through the process may be more helpful. Such exercises that focus on breathing, in particular, can be good during labor as you will also find that midwives will be constantly reminding you to control your breathing during the process.
Obviously, you can also rely on dhikr as a relaxation exercise as we know hearts will find rest in the remembrance of Allah (swt). Remembering Allah (swt) will naturally help you to control your thoughts and your breathing as you find comfort with Him. Being prepared with all these options before delivery will bring you comfort that when the time comes you are prepared with techniques to make the process a bit easier.
Regarding where to give birth – there are many options available these days so it will be for you to firstly find out what options are available to you. For example, not all hospitals have a birthing pool available. You then need to weigh up the pros and cons of each option. As a first time mother, most doctors recommend giving birth in the hospital as there is everything to hand should it be needed, for both you and the baby, and you will have the direct support of the medics. However, the hospital environment alone can be enough to evoke anxiety in people leading them to prefer to have a home birth where they can feel relaxed in the comfort of their own home. At the same time, however, you will have less support from medical staff, which as a first-time mother, you may be potentially in need of more than if it was a subsequent birth.
Some people, however, might feel more comfortable giving birth in the hospital rather than at home feeling comforted that all support is close by. The home birth might evoke anxiety in the worry that if they should need extra help, they will have to go through the stress of going to the hospital anyway. It is possible also to bring a few comforts from home to the hospital to make it feel a bit more homely and remind you of home to bring the same comfort you might feel at home, but in the knowledge that any help is on standby should you need it. Likewise, it is often recommended to stay at home for as long as possible anyway, going into the hospital only once delivery is imminent. This way, you can still be comfortable at home, doing your relaxation techniques during the earlier stages of labor.
May Allah (swt) guide you to make the best decision and bring you ease during childbirth. May He (swt) grant yo a righteous child that will be the coolness of your eyes.
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