This post is all about how to prepare for labor.
How To Prepare For Labor And Childbirth
Tips For Body, Mind, And Soul
Mamas, just to make it clear- at the end of the day we gotta surrender and let nature, our body, and our baby do their thing. But of course, that’s easier said than done. Even if preparing for labor and delivery won’t always give us all the desired results, it can definitely make you feel more empowered, relaxed, and ready. So let’s check out some suggestions on how to prepare your body, mind, and soul for labor.
I do believe that how you treat your body, mind, and soul during your entire pregnancy (and even before that) can affect your labor or at least how you end up experiencing it. It is all connected. It matters how you feel about your changing pregnant body, what you’re eating, how much rest you’re getting, what kind of information about labor you’re feeding your mind. But let’s assume you’re getting close to your due date and want to take some extra steps to get ready, here are some suggestions on how to prepare your body, mind, and soul for labor:
Preparing your BODY for labor and childbirth
#1 Gotta start with the obvious: a healthy, well-balanced diet, staying active, and getting enough rest. Mama, drink plenty of water and keep taking your prenatal vitamins or any supplements (like iron) if prescribed by your doctor.
#2 Get familiar with different birthing positions
#3 Practice various breathing techniques
#4 Pay attention to your posture and lean forward while relaxing
#5 Perineal massage
Starting from week 34
I guess do what you feel comfortable with, recommendations vary from 3 to 10 minutes, from daily practice to 3 times per week.
#6 Pelvic tilt
Start practicing from week 32
“Pelvic tilts strengthen the muscles of the abdomen and lower back, increase hip mobility, and help relieve low back pain during pregnancy and labor.” – Exercise During Pregnancy. Cleveland Clinic.
#7 Birth ball exercises for optimal positioning of your baby
#8 Take advantage of the benefits certain foods and drinks can offer
Foods & Drinks
Does it work, doesn’t it? Are there side effects? When should you start, how much, and for how long? Who should completely avoid it? As with so many, especially natural remedies, opinions and suggestions vary. So make sure to do your own research and consult your doctor.
x Raspberry Leaf Tea
In many countries, raspberry leaf tea has a long tradition of being used to ease the labor process. It’s said to inter alia shorten labor, strengthen your uterine walls, reduce the likelihood of complications, have a positive impact on the amount and quality of breastmilk.
I found that it’s mostly recommended to start drinking raspberry leaf tea no sooner than in your 3rd trimester, preferably in the last weeks, and to slowly increase the amount from 1 cup up to 3 cups daily. You can also benefit from it during postpartum and while breastfeeding.
Popular dosage recommendation: 1-2 cups a day starting in your 3rd trimester and increasing the amount to 3-4 cups by week 37/38.
x Nettle Tea
Nettle tea is rich in vitamin A, C, D, and K. It also contains calcium, potassium and is high in chlorophyll. Nettle is said to increase iron in your blood, reduce the risk of hemorrhage, help with wound healing and increase the amount of breastmilk produced.
Recommended: 1 cup a day in your 3rd trimester
Recommended: 4-7 dates per day, starting from week 36
“A study was carried out on 69 women who consumed six date fruits per day for 4 weeks prior to their estimated date of delivery, compared with 45 women who consumed none. (…) The women who consumed date fruit had significantly higher mean cervical dilatation upon admission compared with the non-date fruit consumers. Spontaneous labour occurred in 96% of those who consumed dates, compared with 79% women in the non-date fruit consumers The mean latent phase of the first stage of labour was shorter in women who consumed date fruit compared with the non-date fruit consumers. It is concluded that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome.” – The effect of late pregnancy consumption of date fruit on labour and delivery. PubMed.gov
Preparing your MIND and SOUL for labor
x Educate yourself and prepare accordingly
Don’t obsess over every detail, but get to know the stages of labor, what you can expect, when to go to the hospital, etc. Of course, have your and baby’s stuff packed in advance, so you don’t rush and freak out last minute.
Also get familiar with natural ways to cope with labor pain, share them with your partner, and again, pack accordingly (examples: essential oils, heating pad, speaker, a tennis ball for massaging your lower back, etc.)
Moreover, inform yourself about postpartum and prepare what you can for yourself to feel more confident and comfortable in this upcoming period.
I find worries and stress seldom come as one, single thought. So preparing your mind for labor might also mean preparing yourself for the postpartum period. More often than not, our thoughts tend to spiral. You might go from thinking about your water breaking to the pain of labor, to wondering if you got everything packed for the hospital, to who will cook for the family in the first weeks, all the way to losing your hair and not fitting in your jeans.
Preparing yourself for the postpartum period will definitely help you stay present and actually focus on enjoying the last weeks of your pregnancy, being present during labor as well as the first moments with your baby.
x Make sure to have a support system – choose a birth partner
Being able to share your thoughts, worries, and expectations with a loved one as well as knowing that they’ll be there during labor to support you and advocate for you can make a big difference in your mindset and stress levels in the weeks leading up to labor.
Watch educational videos or read books with your birth partner to make sure they know how to best support you but also to feel more connected to them. Make them part of the journey, don’t just expect them to be fully ready and there for you on the big day.
x Look up visualization exercises/techniques that will help you relax and focus on something positive to manage pain and fear during labor
x Find ways for your partner to connect with the baby
It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to connect with an unborn child, especially for the partner. However, it can be the most beautiful, heart-warming experience if they are willing to give it a try.
Touching your belly, talking to the baby, or having late-night music sessions with the baby can make them way more involved in the pregnancy, connected to the baby and to you as well as look forward to the birth.
My partner lying close to my belly and playing music for the baby while I’m falling asleep has been such an amazing experience, I believe for the three of us. Or him touching and kissing my belly, talking to the baby, saying out loud that he already loves him and can’t wait to meet him. All those little things can make a big difference, in how you, mama, feel. Besides feeling more connected to your partner, you will feel more relaxed, grateful, supported, and excited in your last weeks of pregnancy and therefore more empowered during labor.
x Affirmations and meditations
Whether you make up your own and say them out loud, read or listen to them, make sure to feed your mind and soul positive, empowering messages about your pregnant body as well as your ability to birth your child and heal afterward.
“Remember this, for it is as true and true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.” ―Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Suggested meditations: Built To Birth Affirmation Meditations by Bridget Teyler
x Positive birth stories
The country and culture you grew up in have probably strongly influenced your idea of what labor looks and feels like. Make sure to readjust your thinking by getting familiar with positive birth experiences.
“Stories teach us in ways we can remember. They teach us that each woman responds to birth in her unique way and how very wide-ranging that way can be. Sometimes they teach us about silly practices once widely held that were finally discarded. They teach us the occasional difference between accepted medical knowledge and the real bodily experiences that women have – including those that are never reported in medical textbooks nor admitted as possibilities in the medical world. They also demonstrate the mind/body connection in a way that medical studies cannot. Birth stories told by women who were active participants in giving birth often express a good deal of practical wisdom, inspiration, and information for other women. Positive stories shared by women who have had wonderful childbirth experiences are an irreplaceable way to transmit knowledge of a woman’s true capacities in pregnancy and birth.” ― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Get your thoughts, worries, expectations, to-do lists, and so on out of your mind and onto a piece of paper. This will bring you more clarity and peace.
x Write a letter to your baby
Talking to your baby in the form of writing a letter to them, expressing gratitude and excitement will make you feel those feelings stronger. On top of that, what a great gift that can be for your child one day.
x Make yourself feel beautiful in your skin
Your body has gone through major changes during pregnancy and you know it will keep changing after you give birth. You know you will need time to heal, to get stronger, fitter, and to feel like your (new) best self.
Take the time you have now to make yourself feel beautiful on the outside which will have a direct impact on how you feel on the inside.
Whether you invest in a pretty nursing nightgown or self-tan at home (using a natural, pregnancy-safe product of course!), do the things that will make you feel more beautiful and ultimately boost your mood and confidence.
Even though I haven’t given birth yet (I’m 38 weeks with my 1st child now), I can imagine that nothing can really prepare us for giving birth and I feel at peace with that.
However, I enjoy taking extra care of my body, mind, and soul and trying out different things to prepare myself for labor. With that being said, I am not obsessing over it either. Yes, self-discipline equals self-love, and to see the best results we should be consistent. But the last thing you want right now is feeling the pressure to stick to certain things. Same as me, you might have just started your maternity leave. Take a break, take a breath and enjoy your last weeks of pregnancy.
So what if a day or two (of four) go by and you haven’t drunk your raspberry leaf tea or you only ate 2 dates instead of 6, like you wanted to. Mama, don’t put extra pressure on yourself, look how far you’ve come! You’re doing an effing amazing job.
“It is important to keep in mind that our bodies must work pretty well, or there wouldn’t be so many humans on the planet.” ― Ina May Gaskin, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
All of the suggestions I’ve mentioned in this post on how to prepare your body, mind, and soul for labor, for me really are just that, suggestions. I think implementing them into your life in the last weeks of pregnancy should mainly serve the purpose of feeling more relaxed, more present, more confident, and more grateful. Not to put extra pressure on us mamas, add to our to-do lists, and definitely not to set crazy expectations that they will guarantee us our desired labor experience.
I think that when we feel that we’ve done our part when we feel confident, beautiful, and grateful for our bodies, minds, and our pregnancy so far, we will have an easier time trusting, surrendering, and adapting during labor.
it’s good to prepare for labor, but at the end of the day just
trust your body and trust your baby. You got this!
This post was all about how to prepare for labor.