Approaching the day you are going to give birth need not be intimidating. There are good books that you can read, and great ways to be prepared. It's not that it's a "walk in the park" or anything like that, but it is that you can proceed somewhat prepared. Sure, things can definitely go differently than a textbook birth, but it's much better to understand what's ahead and what you need for it.

My mom had 12 children, I am the oldest. She also had 3 miscarriages. Several children were born at home and several in the hospital. As a result, I learned a lot about pregnancy, birth, and babies. Maybe that's one reason why I love the topic. I used to sit among my mother's friends and listen to them compare stories and talk together. I was with my mom for at least 8 births. I learned a lot and I'm grateful that she included me.

One thing I learned from her was the helpful importance of having two hot water bottles during labor (particularly during contractions). She would have Dad hold the hot water bottle on her lower back. When I became pregnant, she instructed me that I would want to do the same: My husband could hold one at my lower back and I could hold the other kind of under my belly and pull upward or towards me (you'll know what to do when you are in the contraction, because you will know what is helping).

But here's the thing: hospitals don't seem to carry hot water bottles! It's the craziest phenomenon to me, because it's one of the basic items that every household should have in their bathroom right along with the band-aids and towels and every must-have for a home. It's such a basic way to bring ease to sore muscles or ease to an aching ear! It's a no brain-er that it's a comforting help if you are feeling cold or achy! Why, oh why, would a hospital not have something like that? But the fact is that so many of them just don't. So... bring your own! Bring two of them, and use them ahead of time to be sure they are "broken in" and that you like them, etc.

And here is what's more amazing: After I had my son, my husband overheard the nurses or assistants talking to each other while taking birth notes. One looked at the hot water bottle and said, "What is that?"

"It's a hot water bottle," my husband said.

"What is it for? What does it do?" the nurse asked.

"I think it helps..." said the other.

"Oh. I better right that down," was the final comment.

Wow. Well, I sure hope they remember that conversation so that they can help more moms with their new-found knowledge. They are smart and kind ladies, but I cannot believe that that is not already a normal, helpful practice in the hospital, and that they are actually in this profession without knowing that that can help!!!

Admittedly, there was a point in which the bottles did little to help, and the greatest help was my husband's thumbs rubbed rigorously into a certain pain-ridden place on my lower back during really tough contractions! On the other hand, some ladies would prefer not to be touched at all while laboring, but you will figure it out when you get there.

I have lots more birth tips to share! I love this topic! Looking forward to sharing more tips with you...

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