Preparing Your Body for Labor: Essential Tips for a Successful Delivery. Ready to give birth? Learn how to properly prepare your body for labor and make delivery a positive experience.
How to prepare your body for labor is quite a huge topic. Ha!
I know Mama,
You’ve been through the excitement of conceiving, baby showers, and gender-revealing events.
I also believe you have attended at least three antenatal clinics and are probably on the verge of finalizing organizing your newborn’s room.
But how about labor preparations?
How well have you prepared your body for labor in the final trimester?
Do you know that you (spirit, soul, and body) need thorough preparation for the birthing task?
Labor and childbirth require excellent cooperation of your spirit, soul, and body. If you think this is a joke, try finding out from mamas around you.
That is not to scare you, though;
If you do not know what to do next, this post will shed some light on the subject. It’s all about how to prepare for labor in 3rd trimester, so read on.
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How to Prepare Your Body for Labor
1. Keep a Positive Mindset About the Birthing Process
Whether you’ve heard scary tales about labor and delivery or not, once that little being starts growing inside your body, birthing it is inevitable.
Mindset plays a crucial role in labor and delivery.
Like any other event, the perspective or perception you’ll take concerning labor may impact how your body reacts.
What have you heard about child labor? What do you believe? Is the information you have gotten over time sending cold chills down your spine?
Do not worry, mama.
No labor experience is the same. What others have experienced may not happen to you.
Keep a positive attitude so your body may process and experience easy labor.
But how do you maintain a positive attitude when surrounded by negativity on social media?
- Read books about labor and childbirth that encourage you.
- Reading positive birth stories
- Have positive affirmations about labor
- Attend childbirth classes
- Make a simple and flexible birth plan highlighting your preferences and expectations about your birth process.
- Join supportive mama groups around you.
Having everything in place before the due date will give you peace of mind and allow you to concentrate on more serious matters.
2. Stay Nourished for a Healthy Body
I cannot overemphasize the importance of staying nourished to prepare your body for labor.
Like an athlete who is set to win a race consuming a healthy and well-balanced diet ensures that your body remains healthy throughout your pregnancy.
Your baby also gets the required nutrients for optimal development.
Ensure you stock your freezer with foods that give you tons of energy. These can be carbohydrates and proteins for energy and bodybuilding.
Go for food that is low in fats for easy digestion to avoid constipation and bloating.
Leafy greens, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts should not miss in your diet. This food helps your body to remain strong and nourished for birth.
Do not forget to eat fruits for vitamins. Also, ensure that you religiously take prenatal supplements that are fortified with omega-3 for immunity and micro nutrients.
3. Stay Hydrated to Prepare Your Body for Labor
A pregnant mom requires more water than the average person. And drinking water is one of the best ways to prepare your body for labor.
According to the American College of Obstetricians, you should take at least 8 to 12 cups (64 to 96 ounces) of water daily during pregnancy.
The water aids in digestion to prevent constipation. Chronic constipation during pregnancy often results in hemorrhoids.
Also, water is crucial for forming adequate amniotic fluid for your baby. The Amniotic fluid surrounds and protects the growing fetus from injury and temperature changes. It also allows for freedom of fetal movement, which is vital for birth.
Having adequate water is a great way to prepare for labor and delivery.
In Addition to increasing blood volume, formation of new tissue, and nutrient circulation, water is also known to help detoxify your body.
It will help flush out wastes from your body, leaving you healthy and energized for the birthing process.
Get yourself a stylish water bottle to walk around with and keep a record of how much you’ve taken for the day.
4. Control Your Weight Gain to Lower the Risk of Childbirth Complication
Maintaining a healthy weight, especially in your 3rd trimester can help reduce the risk of childbirth complications.
One study suggests that being obese during pregnancy may increase the risk of having a cesarean section due to poor uterine contractions.
According to ACOG, having a body mass index of 30 or more during pregnancy can be risky.
Your fetus may risk developing obesity-related birth defects like heart issues and cleft palate.
While most pregnant women gain weight naturally in their second and third trimesters due to rapid baby growth, you may still have the power to ensure that you do not exceed the requisite BMI.
The best way to address weight issues is to deal with them earlier in pregnancy.
One study that reported success in weight intervention during pregnancy showed that women who started a weight control measure between weeks 7 and 21 of pregnancy were less likely to be obese during the3rd trimester.
Start controlling your weight as early as when planning to conceive.
Ensure you cut down on calories by ;
- Remaining active.
- Eating smaller portions.
- Eating healthy plant-based fats like coconut and olive oil instead of unhealthy fats like butter.
- Swap your junk like baked foods and candy for fruit.
- Fill up your plate with vegetables.
- Opt for water instead soda, coffee, or alcoholic drinks
5. Regular Performing Lower Impact Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is a cardiovascular workout that aids in circulating oxygen throughout your muscles to perform their roles effectively.
It’s an exercise that involves controlled breathing.
One study shows that engaging in low-impact aerobics during pregnancy is a great way to prepare your body for labor.
Aerobic exercise helps you to remain vibrant and active and may significantly decrease total labor time during the first and second phases.
If you’re enjoying a healthy pregnancy, ensure you engage in a 2-hour low-impact aerobic activity each week.
These activities will increase your heartbeat, make you breathe faster, and increase your blood circulation rate.
Examples of Lower impact aerobic exercise include:
- Using an elliptical trainer.
6. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red Raspberry leaf is an all-time midwives tea known for uterus toning in labor preparation.
The herb that originates from Europe and parts of Asia is known to be rich in several vitamins and minerals. One study suggests that red raspberry contains B & C vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and iron.
Other Studies have come on board to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of red raspberry leaf tea in labor and childbirth. In this particular research, the National Library of Medicine found out that
The group of women who consumed raspberry leaf herb had shorter labor, especially in the second phase, with no side effects for the mother or their babies.
The findings suggest that ingestion of red raspberry leaf may reduce the likelihood of intervention and childbirth-related complications like artificial membrane rupture, having a cesarean section, forceps, or vacuum birth.
7. Practice Forward –Leaning Inversion for Optimal Positioning of Your Baby
Forward-leaning invasion is a pregnancy exercise meant to help the baby descend into the pelvis in an optimal position for a shorter, more effective labor.
The technique discovered and taught in spinning babies pregnancy class is known to balance the pelvis, the uterus, and surrounding areas for comfort and birth preparation.
Practicing Forward leaning Inversion helps to create space in the cervix with the natural pull of gravity, thus allowing the baby to descend and engage in an ideal position for birth.
The Inversion allows the ligaments to stretch, lengthen and soften, creating space for the baby to engage.
How to do forward-leaning Inversion
- Get to the raised surface like a couch
- Kneel on the edge of that surface
- Using your hands as support, Carefully lower yourself to the floor.
- With your shoulders straight, let your head hang freely, but keep your chin tucked.
- Take three breaths and rest.
When do you use forward-leaning Inversion?
It is best to practice the forward-leaning Inversion daily or at least 3 times a week in your last trimester.
8. Engage Perineal Massage to Avoid Tearing
The Perineal is the area between your vagina and the anus. Perineal massage involves stretching perineal tissue using one or two fingers.
The aim of doing this massage during pregnancy is to soften and lengthen the tissues around your vagina for an easy stretch during vaginal delivery.
Studies show that at least 80% of women may undergo a perianal tear or need episiotomy during vaginal birth. Doing this massage in the last 4-6 weeks may help with;
- stretching or lengthening the tissues around the perineal area by fostering and increasing blood flow for less pain during childbirth.
- It may reduce the risk of tearing or the need for episiotomy during vaginal birth
You may perform this exercise at home by yourself or with the help of your doula or partner.
Also, using water-soluble lubricants like K-Y jelly may be a great option and an alternative to massage oil.
To perform a Perineal massage,
- Go to a private place like a bedroom
- Using supporting pillows, Lay on your back but in a slanting position with your legs apart and knees raised
- Lubricate your clean fingers and perianal area using natural oil like organic coconut or olive, or use a water-soluble lubricant like k-y Jelly.
- Insert your thumbs —Side by Side—about 1 to 1.5 inches into your vulva.
- Start massaging by pressing downwards- toward the anus, then to the sides. Repeat this U-shaped motion for 2 minutes or until you feel a slight burning sensation or stretching.
- Hold the stretched position for about 1 minute.
9. Eat Dates from week 36 to Prepare Your Body for Labor
Dates are dried fruit from the date palm tree. The fruit that is mainly found in the Middle East has numerous nutritional benefits.
For instance, dates consist of folate, iron, and vitamin K. These micronutrients are necessary for the development of a healthy baby.
Iron is necessary during pregnancy for boosting blood and energy levels. It helps in preventing pregnancy-related anemia due to iron deficiency.
Dates are loaded with fiber to help your digestive system and reduce the likely hood of having pregnancy-related constipation.
They are also a rich source of potassium, an electrolyte mineral that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and blood pressure low.
And not just that.
Dates are also known to help with labor in many ways. According to a study conducted in 2007, women who eat 6 dates daily in the last 4 weeks of their pregnancy experienced;
- a significantly higher intact membranes
- Higher cervical dilatation
- Spontaneous labor
- Reduced need for induction or use of prostin or oxytocin in enhancing labor.
If you're looking for an enjoyable way of preparing for labor in your 3rd trimester, here we go. Grab a packet of dates from your nearest food store or amazon and start enjoying today.
10. Nipple Stimulation from 38 weeks to Prepare Your Body for Labor
Nipple stimulation is one of the best ways you can prepare your body for labor.
Scientific evidence shows that stimulating your nipples by rubbing or rolling them can help prepare your body for labor in the 3rd trimester.
This technique of labor induction tends to mimic breastfeeding. By rubbing your nipples, you stimulate your body to release oxytocin hormones which play a crucial role in labor and birth.
Oxytocin is a natural version of Pitocin. It is known to play a crucial role in arousal, initiating labor, and helping you to bond with your baby after birth.
This hormone is also responsible in contracting your uterus after labor, thus, returning it to its pre-pregnancy size.
According to research, nipple stimulation can help shorten labor duration in both phases.
In fact, other studies indicate that regular performance of nipple stimulation enhanced the Bishop score in pregnant women. Bishop score is a system used by medics to determine how soon one may go into labor and whether there are risks of intervention needed
How do you perform nipple stimulation?
Performing nipple stimulation is easy.
- Sit in a comfortable place.
- Repeatedly massage your areola (dark circle surrounding the nipple.) and nipple using the fingers or palm
- Focus on massaging one breast at a time.
- Limit stimulation to about 5 minutes per session.
- Wait for another 15-20 minutes before trying again.
- Take a break from nipple stimulation during contractions.
11. Bouncing on Birth Ball
Bathing balls are not only meant for yoga classes but are also great tools for pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Sitting on a birthing ball with your legs wide apart and upright may encourage the pelvic muscles to open.
The opening of these muscles allows the baby to descend for optimal positioning and engagement in the pelvis in preparation for birth.
Some Studies suggest that a birthing ball may be used as a pain management tool during labor. Regularly indulging in birth ball exercises can significantly improve labor pain.
Additionally, birthing ball exercises can help relieve back pain, stress, and anxiety in pregnant women.
There is also another breed of ball excellent for labor.
If you haven't heard of it from your birth classes yet, please note that this may be the new sharif in classes of balls for a shorter labor.
A study suggests that peanut balls may help shorten labor in the first and second phases. They may also help reduce labor pain, lower the risk of having a c-section, and other interventions like forceps or vacuum extraction.
What are some of the best birthing ball exercises for labor preparation?
- Sitting with your legs wide open for comfort and pressure relief
- Sitting and rotating your hips clockwise and anticlockwise, with a significant circular motion.
- Kneeling and leaning on the birth balls may help facilitate the optimal positioning of your baby in readiness for birth. Ensure that your chest is on the ball and your belly is in a relaxed state.
12. Prenatal Yoga and Deep Squats
Yoga is a well-known exercise for preparing your body for labor in the 3rd trimester.
Prenatal yoga focuses on controlled breathing to help with relaxation and improved flexibility.
According to a study, practicing yoga in your final trimester may shorten labor duration, reduce the chances of induction, and lower the risk of perianal tear.
Consequently, other research shows that yoga significantly affects the fetus's normal birth weight.
Performing regular yoga during pregnancy also may reduce the risks of preterm delivery, intra-uterine growth restriction, preeclampsia, emergency CS, and fetal death.
Which type of Yoga is Best for pregnancy?
♦. Cat/Cow Pose. Great for relieving back pain, easing tension, and helping move the baby into an optimal position for birth.
♦. Downward Facing Dog yoga pose. It helps to ease upper back and shoulder tension. It also helps to open the cervix for optimal baby positioning and engagement for a shorter labor.
♦. Bound Angle Pose. Great for relaxation. Staying in this position and deep breathing fosters blood circulation and calmness.
♦. Balancing Table Pose. Great for controlled breathing, strengthening core muscles, and flexibility for an ease labor
Deep squats. Excellent for lengthening the pelvic floor muscles and stretching the perineum. Deep squats tilt the uterus and pelvis forward. This places the baby in proper alignment for delivery.
13. Sexual and Orgasm for Labor Stimulation
If you're in your third trimester, you've probably noticed that you experience a hardening of your uterus and baby kicking after having sex.
Generally, you may feel slight cramps or pain in the abdomen after an orgasm.
This happens because the contractions you have after orgasm may set off what are called Braxton-Hicks or better known as "false" labor contractions.
While these false labor contractions may go away with a change in position or rest, you must also pay close attention, especially in your final lapse. Some tightening or contractions can turn out to be actual labor.
But how does sex help initiate labor;
- Semen contains a high concentration of prostaglandins, which is a lipid compound with hormone-like effects. When deposited near the cervix, these prostaglandins can help soften it to prepare for dilation. It may also result in mild uterus contraction.
- Having an orgasm may trigger uterine contraction which is why you may notice mild tightening in your lower abdomen after sex.
- Sex and orgasm trigger the production of oxytocin which is a love hormone that operates like Pitocin. Pitocin is a type of synthetic hormone normally given in a drip for a formal induction at a hospital.
14. Side-lying Release Technique
The idea of Side–lying release is to open the sacral and temporarily lengthen and soften the pelvis muscle for baby engagement.
To perform the exercise;
- lay on the Side, close to the edge of a surface like a bed or a sofa.
- Stack your hips and legs together, ensuring that your spine remains in a neutral position,
- Raise the top leg and gently lower it. Allow it to hang on the ground while maintaining a straight posture of your spine.
15. Consume Labor- Aid Electrolyte Energy Drinks
Electrolytes are minerals that enhance the nervous system's functioning and regulate fluid balance for optimal energy production in your body.
The main electrolyte minerals are sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, bicarbonate, and phosphate.
When you consume these minerals, they dissolve in your natural body fluids, releasing electrically charged ions vital for optimal nerves, muscles, and body balance.
For a pregnant woman, you need lots of energy and excellent stability of body balance.
You also need your muscles to contract in labor and during delivery. That is why it's essential to have enough of these minerals in your body for labor preparation.
Electrical imbalances during pregnancy may result from severe nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, thyroid dysfunctions, and the use of certain medications.
Some symptoms of electrolyte imbalance in pregnancy may include;
- muscle spasms,
- numbness and weakness
- dry mouth and extreme thirst
- pins and needle sensations
- blood pressure changes,
- urinary frequency and urgency,
In most cases, electrolyte imbalances are diagnosed in hospitals through a blood test. Your healthcare provider may recommend a supplement based on your needs.
However, you may also want to avoid going in that direction by having an electrolyte drink at home to replenish these minerals.
Ingredients for labor-aid electrolyte Energy drinks
Fresh Lemon, oranges, coconut water, honey, sea salt
♦. Lemon is an antioxidant with high vitamin C levels for immunity boosting and oxidation. Vitamin C enhances better iron absorption in your body. It also has potassium, minerals and vitaminB6 necessary for converting food into energy.
♦. Orange juice provides additional vitamin c, potassium, and folate
♦. Coconut water is a natural isotonic drink full of potassium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium and is naturally low in sugar.
♦. Raw Unfiltered Honey is a natural sweetener with high glucose and fructose content for energy.
♦. Sea salt is rich in sodium chloride and trace minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium,
♦. Bach Flower Rescue Remedy (optional) some mamas find these rescue remedies helpful in enhancing calmness and relaxation during labor.
- 2 cups of fresh coconut water
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of unprocessed honey
- a few drops of rescue remedy (optional)
Blend all the ingredients to make your energy drink. You may store them in a fridge and sip as much as you want.
16. Drinking Nestle Tea to Prepare Your Body for Labor
Nettle is rich in minerals and vitamins. Drinking this tea in your last weeks of your pregnancy gives you additional vitamins A, C, and K.
You also benefit from minerals like potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium.
Due to its high calcium levels, nettles tea can ease leg cramps and other muscle spasms if taken during pregnancy.
One study shows that nettle can help reduce muscle and joint cramps, especially in people suffering from arthritis.
And if you're one of those who tend to react to allergic rhinitis or hay fever, make nettle tea your friend. It's going to reduce your allergic reactions significantly.
The vitamin K in this herb reduces the risk of bleeding. A high iron level enhances blood volume and reduces the risk of pregnancy-related anemia.
Worthy to note is that drinking nettle tea during pregnancy could potentially stimulate your uterus and cause contractions. That is why it's best to avoid it in your earlier trimesters.
17. Manageable Hairstyles for Labor
Is making your hair part of preparing your body for labor?
Don't plan to go into labor looking like an insane person. Get some styles that are easy to manage but still make you look organized for at least a month.
I know you will spend most of the time lying with your baby, but what about your first photos in the hospital?
How will you manage the intensive physical demands of labor with hair hanging around your neck?
By the way, sometimes you may get irritated with minor things during labor, and I bet you don't want your hair to be part of it.
Labor can be involving and exhausting, leaving you tired and wet. Try to choose a hairstyle that can withstand intensive physical exercise like;
- Braids and twists
- Faux boxer braid
- Crown braid
- simple ponytail with extensions
When all is said and done, that is, you've put into practice all the tips about How to prepare your body for labor, do not forget to pray for your safe delivery. Pray for your little one. Pray for your healthcare providers. Pray for your family.
From the all-time mommy family, I wish you a safe delivery!