10 Ways to Prepare Your Mind & Body for Labor
With a little less than 10 weeks (give or take) left of this pregnancy, I have really started to think about how to best get myself ready for the big day. Sure, there are big factors to think about, like my hospital bag, child care for Cassidy, midwife appointments and more. However, more important than any of those things, I am thinking instead about how to best prepare myself physically and mentally. So if you’re like me, check out below to see 10 different ways to help both your body and mind prepare for the big day. Yes, no matter the type of labor you are shooting for, this list will leave you feeling strong and ready to meet your new babe.
1. Nix Negativity
If you haven’t learned this already, you will soon because motherhood brings nothing but judgement sometimes. Everyone has an opinion and a story but unfortunately not everyone has a filter. You will get told horror stories and probably be told at some point about how terrible the pain of child birth is. With my first pregnancy, I didn’t know any better and allowed this type of talk. However, after taking Hypno-birthing, which encourages practicing positive thinking, I am shutting down any type of negativity that comes my way. Why? Well because the last thing I need during my labor is fear. All of this goes back to an idea of the fear-tension-pain cycle. I will spare you the long winded explanation but the basic idea is that fear causes you to tense up more, which in turn results in more pain. I want my labor and son’s birth to be a beautiful and enjoyable experience and while I know everyone has a story, not every birth is the same. And sure, while there are many things that are out of your control, your mindset does not have to be one of them.
2. Get Moving
This blog started off more than 2 years ago as a prenatal fitness space and while it may have evolved into more, that is still apart of my passion. So if you have gotten the okay from your midwife/ doctor, get up and move. Walking, squats, and lunges are just a few examples of great lower body exercises that help condition the pelvic floor and get it ready for childbirth. Not to mention, these exercises help position baby head down, prime the cervix and even stretch the perineum, which will help prevent tearing.
Looking for something a little more intense to work into your already current exercise regime? Try out intervals! Intervals can be a great way to prepare for childbirth and is in fact, one of my favorite programs to apply for my pregnant clients. This is because intervals mimic the flow of labor. For example, I like to have my clients work for 30 seconds, followed by a period of 30 seconds rest. I then gradually increase their work time, perhaps to 60 or 90 seconds, still with 30 seconds rest in between. Not only will this type of training deliver in terms of gaining strength but it will also help mentally prepare you for the big day by showing you just how much you can handle for a short period of time.
3. Get Adjusted
Now this may not be up everyone’s alley but I personally am using a chiropractor to help adjust my body and pelvis for the big day. Specifically, I am using a chiropractor that is certified in the Webster Technique, which focuses on adjusting the pelvis and surrounding ligaments to help prepare both the baby and body for birth. Not only can this help in term of pushing the baby out but more importantly, these adjustments allow the baby to go and stay head down.
Chiropractic care not for you? I’d recommend checking out Spinningbabies.com on daily movements that help stretch/align the pelvis and allow the baby to get into the optimal birthing position.
4. Raspberry Leaf Tea
This is something I used during my pregnancy with Cassidy and plan on using it again, although I will be honest and tell you that I’m not 100% positive to if it actually made a difference or not. However, based on some research studies, drinking this tea has shown to “strengthen the uterus, improve labor outcome and prevent excessive bleeding after childbirth.” I know some women who drink this all throughout their pregnancies but I personally like to wait until the third trimester and drink about 2 cups a day. You can find this tea on amazon, your local supermarket and even target. **Please be sure to check with your care provider first**
Again, this was something I did with Cassidy and can’t say it definitely made a difference. However, all I do know is that I didn’t have to be induced and went into labor naturally, which is what research shows to be a positive correlation when it comes to ingesting dates during pregnancy. Starting around 35/36 weeks, I plan on eating about 6 dates a day (about 80g). I prefer to add them into a smoothie, since I’m not really a fan of them alone, but I am sure there are plenty of other really yummy recipes you can try to work them into. **Please be sure to check with your care provider first**
Now this is something new for me but I have heard a lot about taking Evening Primrose Oil during late pregnancy to help ripen the cervix. I have read of people ingesting these capsules and even some inserting them into their lady bits. Yeah, you heard me. So anyway… I have zero plans on going that far but I do think it will be worth taking them (the normal way). As far as I can tell there is no research, either positive or negative, so I don’t think their is anything to lose by trying. Of course though, I will only do so if given the green light by my midwives.
7. Get Busy
Yeah, you know what I am referring to here: S-E-X. Now, I’ll admit that when you get to that point in pregnancy where you start to resemble more Buddha than anything else, sex seems like the very last thing you want to do. However, if you can work up the mood it can have big pay offs. For starters, semen has been known to contain properties that can help ripen or soften the cervix. Weird right? Oh and you can’t forget one of the better parts: having an orgasm when you are full term can help stimulate the uterus and provide a good dose of oxytocin (both of which have been known to possibly cause contractions). And if these aren’t enough reason, keep in mind it will be 6-8 weeks post-baby until you are in the clear to pick up steam again. Not to mention you’ll also have a little one and they are probably the biggest c**k block you’ll ever meet.
8. Perineal Massage
Okay so this is one thing I don’t plan on doing but I figured I’d throw it out there just incase anyone is wanting to try. So just like it sounds, a perineal massage is when you manually massage the perineum, which is the tissue between your vagina and butt hole. God two words I hate saying, let alone type haha. So anyway, the idea is that these massages can help prevent tearing when it comes time to push your little one out. I didn’t do this with Cassidy and ended up having a 2nd degree tear, along with an emergency episiotomy so even if I had done it, I doubt it would have helped. But with that being said, it is an option and can even be combined with the above tip. Why not get your partner involved? (Cue the sarcasm because no way in hell would I let my husband do this, especially not when I’m the size of a house).
Similar to tip #1, I have been practicing meditation a lot this pregnancy. For me, this usually means listening to my hypno-birthing tracks but I also have tried using the “calm” app and loved it. Even though I love it just for the sole fact of having 10-20 minutes of quiet there are also so many other benefits to it. Lower stress and anxiety levels, better pain management, enhanced mother-baby bonding and lower levels of postpartum depression are just a few worth naming. Pregnancy, birth and motherhood can be a lot to wrap your mind around and a bit overwhelming at times so its nice to know I have a tool available to help me slow down, gather my thoughts and get in the right frame of mind.
Last but not least, take some time to just do nothing. Sit on the couch, take a bubble bath, enjoy a nice book. You’re body has been working so hard for the past 9 months and its about time you give it a little break.