I thought I would write an article on my top 10 tips on preparing for labour as I have had a lot of people ask me what I did in the lead up to giving birth to my beautiful little girl – Sophia.
Whether you have been through it or not we all know that pushing a baby out of you is no easy task. So, the way I see it is – I wouldn’t run a marathon without any preparation so why would I then go into labour without at least attempting to best prepare myself and my body for what it is about to endure!
I am one of those people that likes to be in control and with birth/labour being so out of my control I decided to try every trick in the book. Old wives tales or not – I gave them all a go!
So, below are my top 10 tips on preparing your body for labour;
- Raspberry leaf tea – Is believed to be a uterus tonic that helps strengthen the uterine muscle to prepare it for labour. It is also meant to be really good post labour to assist with increasing your breastmilk supply. I started drinking raspberry leaf tea as soon as I hit my 3rd
- Dates – Eating dates in your late stages of pregnancy is said to increase cervical ripening and dilation. I started eating a date a day as soon as I hit my third trimester and increased to 4 dates, daily in the last 4 weeks! There are so many yummy recipes that include dates too – check out my Brownie Bliss Ball recipe
- Perineum massage /EpiNo device– Perineum massage is something that isn’t spoken about much however it is said to help prevent tearing of the perineum during labour (the area/skin between the anus and the vagina). I carried out perineum massage using an organic coconut oil as well as use of the EpiNo Birth Preparation Device. I strongly believe that a combination of these 2 things is the reason as to why I didn’t tear or need stitches. Both my physio and midwife highly recommend perineum massage to me as there are great studies that show women who carry out perineum massage reported less pain in the weeks after birth. Please speak to your health care practitioner to seek some further advice on how to carry out perineum massage and if you should be doing it.
- Evening primrose oil – After carrying out the above, I would then insert an evening primrose oil capsule into my vagina before going to bed at night. Evening primrose oil can be taken orally or inserted vaginally to help soften and thin the cervix from 37 weeks.
- Foot reflexology – I started foot reflexology once a week from 37 weeks onwards. Not only is it great to help calm and relax you but there are certain trigger points that in Chinese medicine are said to help labour along. The acupressure is believed to redirect the bodies energy flow, stimulate the uterus and increase blood flow!
- Acupuncture – Like foot reflexology I started acupuncturefrom 37 weeks onwards. I have always been a huge fan of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Acupuncture in your late stages of pregnancy can help prepare your cervix for labour, influence hormonal responses and reduce stress.
- Collagen – I started supplementing with collagen in my pregnancyto help with skin elasticity to help prevent stretch marks as well as well as to help support perineal elasticity and stretching during child birth. Collagen is also very beneficial post labour as a lot of mums also experience hair loss and brittle nails. Collagen supplements can help rebuild tissues and bring hair, skin and nails back to health.
- Colostrum – for your little one! From 37 weeks on-wards I started hand expressing Colostrum into small syringes that were provided to me by my midwife. Colostrum is the first milk that is produced by your body during pregnancy. It is considered liquid gold! It is also produced the first few days after birth before the breast milk supply comes in. You then label and freeze it for when your little one enters the world.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises – Something I am guilty of not doing enough of! I saw a women’s health physio before falling pregnant who gave me specific exercises for my body to carry out throughout pregnancy. It is so important to do these exercises to support bladder and bowel control during and post pregnancy. I would highly recommend seeing a women’s health physio as everyone’s pelvic floor has different needs.
- Birth Ball – It is such a great tool to prepare you for birth. By bouncing on the ball, drawing circles or figures 8’s with your hips can encourage the baby to move down and get into position. I aimed for 10 minutes a day in the last 4 weeks of my pregnancy.
Please note that what may work for me, may not work for you. There is no one size fits all and the above tips I believe were of great help to me.
Please also do your own research and check with your midwife, GP or obstetrician before you carry out any of the above.
At the end of the day, whatever happens – just know that your body was built to birth, keep a positive attitude and try your best to remain calm!