7 minute read
The Top 5 Ways to Prepare Your Body for Natural Childbirth
Would you run a marathon without any training, prep work or practice runs? Heck, No!
For the smoothest race possible, you’d prepare your body — both mentally and physically — over an extended period of time. And if you really wanted to kick butt on that race, you’d seek out professional training from someone who knows what it takes to meet your goals (check out my Birth Dates course!).
Yes, your baby will come no matter what. You could give birth without preparing your body..but imagine the difference if you did! Preparing the body during pregnancy can reduce the chance of cesarean section and make for a smoother birth experience.
Birth is hard work no doubt. It can be filled with anxiety and unknowns. And after being a birth doula for over 15 years, I can tell you, it can be so much more rewarding when you’ve prepared physically, emotionally, and mentally! When you intentionally prepare your body for labor and birth, you’ll have more strength, stamina, flexibility, alignment, and a smoother, more positive birth experience.
Let’s dive into our top 5 ways to prepare your body for labor and birth.
How to Prepare Your Body for Labor
Tip #1: Rest
While you can’t exactly save up sleep now to “use” it later… Getting plenty of sleep — especially in your third trimester — will help you feel rested and refreshed for the marathon of birth. So, take naps, sleep in, let the dishes go…
But often, getting good, quality sleep can be challenging during pregnancy. Fluctuating hormones, general discomfort, and a number of other factors can make it difficult for you to get a solid night’s rest:
And when you get quality sleep, this helps to strengthen your immune system and regulate your blood sugar which is healthier for you and your baby.
Sleep also plays a major role in memory, learning, appetite, mood, and decision-making – all important when preparing to welcome a new baby into your home.
Tip #2: Relax/meditate
Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time, full of anticipation, excitement, and change. Not only are you mentally preparing for your bundle of joy to arrive — your body is physically changing to grow your sweet baby! This comes with lots of hormone fluctuations and changes that have an impact on your emotions.
Many expecting parents find themselves so busy with trying to get everything perfect in the nursery, or anxious about birth, that they neglect the ONE thing that is probably most important in preparing for a natural birth. Learning the ability to relax the body!
This is the key to our Birth Dates course, where we help couples learn real relaxation techniques to have reduced pain in childbirth. It is beyond helpful to carve out a bit of time each day to connect with your body and baby through mindful meditation.
Meditation involves focusing your attention for a set period of time. And we aren’t saying 30 minutes! Even just 2-5 minutes a day can train your body to breathe and let go and help prepare your mind for birth. Every mom has 2-5 minutes to do this in pregnancy to prepare their body and mind for birth!
It’s easy to get started!
- Start small, simply carving out a minute or two each day.
- Sit in a comfortable position and practice breathing deeply into your diaphragm while focusing your attention. You’ll feel your whole body soften and relax.
- You can focus on your breath, your baby, a mantra — repeated positive phrase — or the present moment.
- Repeat this process every day.
- When you feel the nerves or anxieties flowing, return to just putting your hands on your belly and listening to your breath. This will slow down your nervous system and blood pressure, reducing the anxiety and creating more feel-good hormones.
And these moments of meditation or relaxation will be the KEY SKILLS you use in your natural birth. We also have guided relaxation INCLUDED in our Birth Dates course – the more you practice in your pregnancy, the better you be at birthing without fear.
Tip #3: Eat Well
Pickles, ice cream, and all the Mexican food you can get your hands on! Enter the pregnancy cravings! While it’s totally normal for your eating habits to change during pregnancy, to get certain cravings, even indulge those cravings from time to time! There are many benefits to eating a well-balanced diet while you’re pregnant. It’s all about paying attention and being mindful.
- Eat foods that reach all the colours – green, orange, yellow, If you make sure to get ALL the colours in, you are going to be hitting a lot of the needed vitamins for a healthy pregnancy.
- Drink Pregnancy Power Tea, based in Red Raspberry Leaf which helps strengthen your uterus. Studies have shown that 2 cups a day can shorten labour and reduce risk of hemorrhage. So have some tea time with your baby and strengthen that amazing body!
- Keep it whole food based. Try to eat less packaged food and more whole. Make most of your grocery store purchases from the outside aisles – avoiding the more processed sections.
- Home-made is better than take-out. Restaurant food is filled with sodium and enriched flours. So eat more home made meals. But of course keep have your pad thai Fridays!
- A diet rich in good fats. This will help prepare your body for birth and reduce your risk of tearing. So think guacamole, trail mix, olive oil, olives, popcorn, etc for your perineum.
Eating a balanced diet will benefit your birth:
- Create sustainable energy
- A stronger immune system
- Reduce your risk of pregnancy illnesses such as gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia etc, which can lead to need for inductions or cesarean sections
- Reduce your chance of anemia, low birth weight, and birth defects.
Pregnancy is not the time to restrict calories. Weight gain has been shown to be healthy and normal- as long as you are eating well! If you are eating packages of oreos daily and gaining too much weight…be mindful of this and make a fruit salad instead. On average, you should aim to eat an extra 300 calories a day (American Pregnancy Association).
The key thing is to listen to your body. You’ll find foods that you enjoy and are healthy for you and your baby. What you take in each day, goes to creating a strong baby and body for birth.
Tip #4: Get Moving!
Use These 5 Essential Exercises for an Easier Labor
Exercising during pregnancy will prepare your body for labor in many ways, helping shorten labor and reduce risk of interventions. (Spinning Babies). Here are 5 of our favorite exercises that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Walking in pregnancy is pure magic – and it’s easy! Aim for 20-30 minutes a day at least 5 times a week. Seems too simple? More steps in your day helps ease pregnancy aches and pains and increase stamina for birth. One of the greatest benefits of walking regularly is that it helps your baby get in the right position for birth, which can shorten your labor and reduce the risk of complications. So make it a regular date night, grab a coffee with a friend, listen to a birth podcast or just park farther away…get walking!
Squatting is one of the most helpful exercises you can do to prepare for labor. Squatting during labor opens your pelvic outlet an extra quarter to half an inch, allowing more room for your baby to descend.
But squatting is tiring! So if you want to use this position while pushing, you will need to practice in pregnancy. To build your lower body strength, practice squatting frequently during pregnancy to strengthen your lower body. A great way to get started is with wall slides, chair squats, and sumo squats.
You’ve probably been doing the butterfly stretch since elementary school, but it’ll still come in handy for preparing your body for labor! This exercise strengthens and stretches the muscles in your back, thighs, and pelvis. It also keeps your pelvic joints flexible, improves blood flow to your lower body, and eases delivery. This stretch can also be very relaxing!
If you’re experiencing any back pain, this is the stretch for you. The pelvic tilt, which you may recognize as the yoga pose “quadrupled cat/cow” helps to ease discomfort and lower back pain. It improves the flexibility of your back, strengthens your abdominal muscles, and can ward off future back pain.
This yoga pose is a wonderful restorative exercise during pregnancy. Child’s pose helps to lengthen your pelvic floor muscles and ease discomfort. Try placing a block underneath your forehead to give more room for your belly.
Tip #5: Use Our Favourite Pregnancy Tool to Help Your Body Be Ready For Birth
Our favorite tool for preparing your body for labor is…the birthing ball! Some call it a yoga ball or exercise ball, and we just call it a birth ball, but they are all the same thing. This simple tool in your house or office can make a huge impact on your birth!
This is because a birthing ball helps to improve your posture and uterine alignment. This is especially important because pregnancy can worsen your posture over time. Especially when all you want to do is lounge back on the couch!
Poor posture over time can stretch your abdominal muscles, allowing your belly to hang forward, which pushes your back out of alignment. This could lead to backache for you and possibly improper positioning for your baby.
Spending time each day on your birthing ball forces you to sit upright and puts your entire body into alignment. This has multiple benefits for your body:
- Engages your core and pelvic floor, strengthening these muscles that you’ll need to push out your baby.
- Supports and helps open your pelvis.
- Uterine alignment and flexible ligaments help make a shorter labour and reduce risk of cesarean sections.
- Reduces breech and posterior presentations…as it allows the baby the space it needs to get in the best position for birth.
- Supports and strengthens your lower back.
And using a birth ball is as simple as it sounds! You can use one while working, watching TV, or while performing any task while sitting. You can bounce up and down, move your hips in circles, or do any number of stretching and strength exercises.
When to Start Preparing for Birth?
As soon as you’re able! Many expecting parents try to start incorporating these tools into their daily life during the 1st trimester, or even before pregnancy.
But it’s never too late to get started. If you’re in your third trimester and preparing for the arrival of your little one — there’s no time like the present!
Get Answers to Your Pregnancy & Childbirth Questions
You may have a million questions as you think about preparing to welcome your baby into the world.
You may be feeling anxious to give birth.
You may worry that your partner might not know how to support you.
And you hoping for less interventions and a more natural labor experience?
I hear you! A birth class is a perfect place to fully prepare for birth and get answers to all your questions!
Check out Birth Dates, my self-paced birth preparation course designed to help you and your partner learn about birth in a fun, engaging way, reduce their fears, and to ultimately experience birth as a true team.
This style of preparation has allowed parents to feel more supported and connected, helping them parent better together after bringing Baby home. I have taught over 1,000 couples and I truly believe that even though you can’t control your birth, how you feel in your birth matters
Ready to prepare you and your partner for birth? Take the Birth Dates Course!