Being as into pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding as I am, I typically surround myself with those of like minds. And with this comes questions… lots of questions. All about how I am doing, how I plan to birth, where I plan to birth etc. Having gone through this a couple times before and having become a natural birth advocate, I don’t mind sharing most things. One question I get is how am I preparing my mind and body for labor? I also see a lot of moms asking this question on social media forums and thought it would be fun to share my experiences.
- Belief in Oneself- I truly believe that you must believe and trust in your body! That is definitely at the top of the list. For millions of years, women’s bodies having been carrying and birthing their babies without interventions. (of course I am aware that in some cases medical intervention is necessary but with most healthy, full term pregnancies, it is not). I believe our mind and body work together. We must be sure that we trust our body to birth our babies and we must also trust that our baby will come when s/he is truly ready. Due dates are not expiration dates, they are merely an estimate. I love reading positive birth affirmations and even repeated a couple to myself when I was in labor with my second.
- Red Raspberry Leaf Tea (RRL)- RRL tea has grown in popularity over the last several years. It is an herbal tea that is safe to consume throughout pregnancy. However, I typically wait until the beginning of the 3rd trimester to start drinking it, but that is just my personal preference. I really enjoy Earth Mama Angel Baby’s 3rd Trimester Tea because they add some other yummy things to it to make it tastier than plain RRL, in my opinion. Studies have shown that mothers who drink RRL tea during their pregnancies typically have less chances of needing medical intervention. RRL is known to tone and strengthen the uterus to help when the woman is in labor and helping the uterus return back to normal after the baby is born. It can also help during pregnancy with boosting the immune system, soothing sore throats, easing morning sickness and increasing circulation.
- Date Fruit- A rather recent study has shown that pregnant women who consume dates in late pregnancy can have positive effects on labor and delivery. It showed that women who consumed 6 dates per day during the last 4 week of pregnancy had higher mean cervical dilation upon arrival to the hospital and higher chance of having intact membranes than those who didn’t consume dates. Spontaneous labor occurred in 96% of the women who ate the dates. Also half (47%) of women who did not consume dates needed their labor augmented with Pitocin, compared to 28% of those who had dates. I did eat dates with my second pregnancy, which was my first vbac and am curious to see if I have the same positive outcomes I did then with this next vbac I am planning 🙂
- Vitamin D- A study that I actually came across early in my second trimester of this pregnancy has to do with higher levels of Vit D during pregnancy and it’s effects on labor pain. The study stated that women in labor who had higher vitamin D levels did not require much, if any, pain management or epidural compared to women in labor with lower vitamin D levels. *Most* Americans are in fact deficient in Vit D. This ended up being true for me after receiving my bloodwork from my first trimester. I wasn’t terribly low, but low enough to need to add daily vit D to my vitamin regimen. I take 3,400 ius daily plus whatever I may get from the sun (although not getting much of that now that we are in the middle of winter) or from food. One thing to look at is how much is in your daily prenatal. Almost all prenatals do not contain nearly enough vit D that an adult would need on a daily basis. I look forward to seeing how this labor compares to my last since this pregnancy I have been very diligent in taking my vit D.
- Prenatal Yoga- I did prenatal yoga at home with an instructional DVD with my second pregnancy and found it to be very relaxing. It helps you learn to breathe, relax, bond with your growing baby, listen to your body and can greatly reduce stress. All are great in preparing for labor. Also, the positions and stretching involved can help with many aches and pains that the hormones of pregnancy can cause. I also found that it helped open up things from my ribs to my hips and help get baby into an optimal position. Whenever I felt my baby was wedged up in my ribs, I would do some simple yoga poses and would get great relief. With having two toddlers this pregnancy, I am sad to say I have yet to start my yoga but will now that I am in the final trimester. I definitely believe it is beneficial during pregnancy and it is a great way to workout without over doing it, especially for those who don’t normally exercise.
- Use of Birthing Ball (exercise ball)- I love my birthing ball. I look forward to inflating that bad boy every pregnancy. Especially toward the end of pregnancy, it can be very hard to get comfortable when sitting. However, with a birthing ball, it is almost always a win. I use it to just sit on, to do exercises on and to bounce on. All are beneficial for labor. The gentle bouncing or circular motions you can do on a birthing ball can help open the hips and bring baby into optimal birthing position. It promotes good posture which helps with this as well. Sitting on one also takes pressure off the spine and can increase blood flow. I did use the hospital’s birthing ball while in labor with my second and found it to be very helpful and comfortable when I wanted to sit and rest but still remain in a position that would be helpful in birthing my baby.
Along with a healthy diet, I feel by continuing these simple measures, my mind, body and baby will be prepared for labor and delivery. Have you tried any of these? What other preparations have you tried to prepare for labor?
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