How To Prepare Your Body For Labour - Top 10 Tips
You can’t really plan your birth but there are things that you can do and think about that will help you feel more prepared.
Knowledge and prep work are power. And feeling like you have some semblance of control over the changes happening to your body can increase the odds that your labour will go smoothly from the first contraction to the final push that brings your baby into the world.
Here’s the top 10 tips that will have the most meaningful impact on your labour.
1. Move Every Day
Moderate daily exercise can help you feel your best throughout your pregnancy and labour. You’ll sleep better and feel less anxious. Walking is one of the best workouts out there — and you can do it right up until your labour. A 30-minute walk a day helps get your body in shape and releases stress.
2. Prep Your Mind
If there’s ever a time to commit to mental strategies that help you feel calm and centred, now is it.
Mindfulness meditation can help you manage your fears, as well as reduce symptoms of prenatal and postpartum depression. It relaxes your mind, giving it the rest it deserves.
Use an app like Headspace or Calm. Start with 5 minutes a day, and if you enjoy it and have the time, build up from there.
3. Prep Your Body
Of all the prenatal exercise classes out there pregnancy Yoga prepares the body to be upright in labour—standing, kneeling, hands and knees and squatting—and these positions keep the pelvis loose and open for easier positioning and descent of the baby.
Yoga also focuses on breathing which is really helpful practice for labour. You’ll learn to breathe away the tension in your body and that will help you to breathe away the pain in labour.
4. Optimal Foetal Positioning
Optimal foetal positioning (OFP) is a concept developed by a midwife to help get your baby into the best position before your labour begins.
Spend time every day sitting upright with a slightly forward lean or kneel on the floor while leaning forward into the couch. Being on your hands and knees 30 minutes twice a day from 34 weeks’ gestation in a forward position gives your baby the best chance of moving into the correct position for labour.
5. Perineal Massage
Your perineum is the small area of skin and tissue between your vagina and anus and it’s got a big role to play in your labour. To physically prepare your perineum you can start by massaging it. The perineum is made of muscle (it’s the hammock of muscles that support your growing uterus in pregnancy) and muscles need time to learn to be supple. Begin massaging your perineum as early as 12 weeks of pregnancy. And while it might make you feel a bit strange to start with, doing the massage at least twice a week can really help get your body labour-ready.
Before you get started, have a warm bath or shower so your perineum is a bit softer. And make your perineum as supple as possible by using a chemical-free Perineum Massage Oil.
Imagine the face of a clock at the opening of your vagina. The 12 points to the clitoris, the six to the anus. The area to be massaged is the lower half of the vagina, from three o’clock to nine o’clock. Women can do the massage themselves. Lubricate your thumb with olive oil. Place one thumb into the vagina to the first knuckle. Stretch the tissue at three o’clock, then four and all around the bottom of the clock, continuing to nine o’clock.
Another benefit of perineal massage is that it helps women learn to consciously relax the perineum, allowing for an easier passage of the baby. Massage increases the circulation of the perineal tissues, speeding healing after the birth. You should feel a stretching sensation. This should not be uncomfortable or painful.
Aim to do this for 5 minutes.
6. Raspberry Leaf Tea
This strengthens the uterus rather than bringing on labour itself. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea contains fragarine, a plant compound that helps tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of your uterus, which can help make delivery easier.
Research suggests that the most optimal time to start drinking red raspberry leaf tea is at 32 weeks gestation. 1–3 cups per day are appropriate.
Red raspberry leaf tea appears to be safe for most people if taken in the appropriate dose. As with any herbal remedy, you should first consult with your doctor.
7. Take Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium during pregnancy is important for almost every system in your body – and your baby's body. Depending on your age, you need anywhere from 350 to 400 milligrams of magnesium every day while you're pregnant. It's pretty easy to get your daily requirement with a healthy, varied diet. But if you don't think you're getting enough magnesium try adding magnesium to your skincare routine.
There are many types of Magnesium but one of the best kinds of magnesium you can take while pregnant is Magnesium Chloride.Of all the types of magnesium, this version absorbs the best, and assimilates within your body the easiest. It does so many things that improve your pregnancy by promoting deep sleep, healthy digestion and bone health. It also does wonders for nausea and morning sickness.The one main side effect with magnesium chloride is diarrhea, which is typical across all types of magnesium. But, this is pretty uncommon unless you go overboard on your dosage.
8. Pelvic floor exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are so important. They need to be strong to help you in labour as well as recover post baby. These muscles come under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth. Squeezes, Kegels, zip-ups – whatever you call them, pelvic floor exercises are important for women at all stages of life.
Pregnancy and birth (both vaginal and cesarean) can put stress on and damage the pelvic floor. So, if you’re pregnant now is an especially important time to pay attention to those muscles
9. Breathing in Pregnancy
A no-fuss way to bring together your body and mind ready for labour is by doing quick and easy breathing exercises. Two minutes of breathing exercises every day can make a huge difference.
Every day, ideally in the morning when you get up and before you do anything else, do your breathing exercises. A really simple one is taking a deep breath in through your nose – notice how you feel and then breathe out for slightly longer, if you can, through your mouth. If you practice this for two minutes every day, ideally from at least 28 weeks onwards, you’ll find that when you’re in labour that will be your go-to breathing exercise.
This exercise works by tricking your body into thinking you’re relaxed. Lots of hormones are released when you’re stressed or anxious, and your breathing and heart rate increases. When you breathe more slowly, that sends a message to your body that you’re safe, everything is well, and you can calm down.
10. Nourish Yourself
Growing an entire human is a pretty big feat. Your body, baby, and your mind, need high quality nourishment.
Stick to whole foods where you can. After all, the fuel you use for your body in pregnancy is the fuel driving your labour and birth. So make it satisfying and nutrient-dense.