It's so much more...more challenging, more gratifying, more sacred than what you can ever anticipate. Even for someone who has had a child prior, it still exceeds any expectations.
So how do you possibly prepare for birth if there's essentially no way of predicting how it's going to unfold or how you're going to feel during?
Easy. You do what you can.
That may mean writing your preferences down to share with your birth team. That may mean attending classes or workshops to learn about the stages of labor or reasons why interventions may be recommended. Maybe preparing means digging deep into what scares you or exploring the worries that keep you up at night? Perhaps it means acknowledging your fears then putting them to the side, focusing only on the here and now.
Birth will push you to your limits: physically, emotionally, mentally. And I speak of vaginal birth and cesarean birth! You have to let your soul crack open in a way it never has in order to settle into the space that is required when you're preparing to meet your new child.
Seeing, reading, and hearing about birth may help you as you near towards your child's birth. It may demystify the whole process, however when it's happening to you, it's a whole different story. You can lean on some of what you've learned, but you must let go and open up your body and heart when you're laboring and birthing.
If interventions are warranted, you may not be able to process right then and there. That's okay. Staying present to your needs and those of your child is very important, too. But I suspect you will reach a place where you need to revisit the what, when, how, etc. of your child's birth in order to move forward. That's not to say you can't be an amazing parent without analyzing how your child's birth unfolded. However, you may discover that as you move forward in your parenting journey, you're driven to see your child's birth as the powerful and sacred experience it was, even if it didn't happen as you had wanted or expected.
Birth is mystical and scientific and everything in between. There's this very real spiritual journey to becoming a mother, and yet it's also very much an experience that is biological.
You get to decide what you need to do to feel prepared. You get to be in charge of how much ownership you take in your baby's birth. You have the decision of who attends your birth and where you birth. There is no right or wrong, only decisions that are made.
Birth is really something that can't be described. It's only something you can experience.