I put cedar bedding in my whelping box before my litter was born. After they were born the mother dug them out. I tried to put some back in but she just about ate me up. So I wouldn't suggest cedar. Also I didn't put anything around the bottom of the box. So I lost 2 pups from mother laying on and smothering them.
For me it starts way before the mating ever takes place. Right bitch, right stud. Make sure she is in as good of health as possible, up to date on shots, been wormed. After the mating we give vitaimans to her along with her feed. Even feed her extra twoard the end. My wife takes care of all of the birthing. She always brings them in the garage. Cars out dogs in. She will stay with them till every pup is born. She dosen't put them on any type of beeding, just the bottom of the crate. If it is cold she will have a light on them after whelping. If it is to hot in the garage she makes me put a window air conditioner in to cool it down to at least the high 80's. She almost works me to death over a litter of pups.
I make sure the momma is current on her shots and wormings and is clean and free from fleas or ticks. I move her to an above ground kennel and start her on Puppy Chow during her last month.
I like to put some newspaper or old towels down if I can catch her starting to have em. I dont know if you ever watched before but its a pretty messy process and its just less work on the momma if we can keep the towels or newspapers down at least for awhile.
I also start mine on Amoxycillin about a week before theyre due to whelp and keep em on it till the pups are about a week old.
When the pups are born we'll treat the umbilical cord with Neosporin or some other antibiotic every day till it dries up. The momma will lick it off but at least it kills whatever might be on there at the time.
Usually on the second or third day Ill go to the vet and let him remove the dewclaws and check the momma out.
At two weeks I worm the momma and the pups with Nemex and do it every two weeks till the pups are weaned, then at 6 weeks give em their first shot.
Once they get their eyes open and start walking we'll give em a little puppy chow softened with warm water to help take a little pressure off the momma.
I start 10 days before due date and give baking soda 1tbl spoon to 1gal water....an old trick taught to me by James Brown...James had weir creek dogs....no milk problems ever since started using the baking soda
we worm the female with nemex 2 weeks before her due date and then worm her and the pups every 2 weeks after she gives birth. my wife starts the mother on foalac milk replacer a couple weeks before shes is due we just sprinkle it on her feed it helps her milking when the pups get here.
We also bring her in the garage about a week before the due date we use a couple sheets of plywood screwed together in a L shape and put it the corner to make a box then we put a kiddie swimming pool inside with some towels inside for her bed if its cold we put a heating pad in the pool with towels over it. The pool works well because the side are flexible and will give way if she lays against it which keps her from smashing the pups against the sides. Hope this helps and good luck with your new litter.