Hello, it's Joyful Family Blog's Emma!
I am an American who had a baby in Japan in July 2021.
Before I was pregnant, I had no experience with being around pregnant people or babies.
I didn't know what to expect at all so I tried to educate myself as much as I could.
I spent a lot of money on classes, but I actually found the most useful things to be free!
So here are the most helpful free things I found to prepare me for giving birth.
You can also read my birth story here:
When I found out I was pregnant, I felt completely lost about what to expect so I took to the internet for information.
Fortunately, there were many pregnant people all over the world who felt the same as me, and there were a lot of resources to look at.
Unfortunately, companies often prey on people in this vulnerable state and make them feel like they have to spend loads of money to solve their problems.
I spent a good chunk of money on classes about pregnancy, birth, and pain management without medication, but in the end, the best resource I used was a free course on Future Learn by Trinity College Dublin called Journey to Birth.
To enroll, you just have to sign up with your email.
There is an option to pay for unlimited access, but with limited access, you go at your own pace through the course for six weeks.
I completed the course in about two weeks, working for an hour or so a day.
The course talks through every step of pregnancy, birth, how to prepare your body for both, and more.
Most of the course is focused on an unmedicated birth, but they talk about interventions and cesarean sections as well.
It covered more than any of the courses I actually spent money on so I cannot recommend it enough.
Even though the group is based in Dublin, the information is applicable worldwide, including in Japan.
There are only some things that differ.
For example, when they talk about pain management they talk about different drugs that are available seemingly at every hospital, but medication for pain management is not widely available in Japan.
For after birth, Trinity College Dublin has a short course on your healing body and mind on their website.
It is also free. After the baby is born, the focus shifts away from the birthing person, but postpartum recovery is a long road, and it's essential to know how your body is healing and what to look out for.
Before moving to Japan, I thought that I would always have the option to get an epidural when giving birth because if you give birth in a hospital in the United States, then even if you say you don't want an epidural, one will usually be available for you if you change your mind in the middle of labor.
Since I knew my hospital here didn't offer any pain medication at all during vaginal births, I tried to find my own medication-free pain relieving techniques.
In the end, the most helpful for me was hypnobirthing and primarily the breathing techniques taught in it.
These breathing techniques were important for me postpartum as well when the stress and anxiety I was feeling would try to take over me.
The Journey to Birth class I talked about touches upon Hypnobirthing and gives you videos to look for, but I also found the free videos on The Positive Birth Company's YouTube to be helpful as well.
Exercising has always been something I have had a tough time making a habit of.
I tend to start off really strong and do challenging exercises, but at some point, I just stop.
Through my classes, I learned how important exercise is during pregnancy so I set out to find something I could see myself regularly doing.
My search brought me to Pregnancy and Postpartum TV on YouTube.
Jessica is a mother, dietician, and fitness instructor, and her workout videos feature exercises that are challenging but don't leave you completely exhausted.
The exercises are divided into different stages of pregnancy, and postpartum, and she even has videos of routines for kids, too!
I loved doing workouts with Jessica while I was pregnant, and they definitely prepared my body for labor and healing postpartum.