How do you prepare for a natural labor and delivery?
Here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare my BODY for a healthy, successful, natural birth at home:
(These habits will be beneficial to your health no matter where you decide to give birth!)
Read How to Prepare for a Home Birth here, if you missed it.
I confess, I am the world’s greatest slacker when it comes to consistently working out. I feel great, have more energy, and sleep better when I exercise… but I still find every excuse NOT to do it on a regular basis.
Exercise is beneficial throughout pregnancy, but it is probably most essential during the final months of preparing for labor and delivery. Keep in mind, being “in shape” doesn’t necessarily equate a good birth; you need to get your CHILD BIRTHING muscles toned for the work out of your life!
Take Herbal & Whole Food Supplements
Child birth is taxing on a woman’s body and we need to help our body do it’s job well!
My favorite herbs and supplements during pregnancy, and specifically in preparing for labor and delivery, are:
Herbal Iron- I take this in tincture form twice daily to prevent pregnancy and post-partum anemia.
Herbal Calcium- this tincture is easily assimulated by the body and helps support the baby’s growing skeletal system, keeps Mama’s body from being depleted of necessary minerals, and prevents muscle cramping during pregnancy.
Prenatal- a good prenatal vitamin should be a daily part of every pregnant or breastfeeding mama’s supplementation. My favorite brand of prenatal vitamin is from Melaleuca.
Probiotics- I take a daily probiotic (Tummy Tune-up from Beeyoutiful) to keep my gut flora healthy, not only for digestive health during pregnancy, but also to help prevent yeast overgrowth. (A baby’s gut is sterile in the womb and is colonized by the mother’s bacteria during birth; I want to give my baby the best possible chance of having a healthy gut as he enters this world!)
Gentle Birth Formula- my midwife recommends this tincture starting at 35 weeks gestation. The combination of herbs gently and effectively prepares a woman’s body for healthy labor and birth.
Rest and Relaxation
This one sounds like a joke, doesn’t it? What pregnant mama has time for rest and relaxation? Well, I’m not suggesting that a mama needs to sit around the house all day with her feet up (although it’s a good idea to do that occassionally).
But what about sleeping habits? Do we stay up too late at night? Do we take opportunities to lie down with our children during the afternoon, or rush around trying to fit too many activities into our already busy day?
And how are we incorporating relaxation techniques into our daily habits? Ending (or beginning) the day with a soothing herbal bath is a great place to start. I love Shonda Parker’s “progressive relaxation” techiniques in The Naturally Healthy Pregnancy, as well as Shoshanna’s tips for learning to relax in her Making Babies series
As difficult as it is to find time to rest and relax, I really believe that both these habits are a valuable investment in the health of an expectant mother. Our bodies are going to be tired and taxed after giving birth, so we need to give ourselves a fresh start by teaching our body how to effectively rest and relieve stress.
Chances are, this doesn’t come naturally for you (it sure doesn’t for me!). Practice relaxation until your body knows what to do, then learn to prioritize and say NO to activities and habits that stress your mind and body. This probably means that you are going to be “less productive” for a season than you are accustomed to, and that’s okay. Give yourself permission to simplify, take a soak in the bath tub, put your feet up occassionally, say “no” to the non-essentials, eat sandwiches for lunch, nap with your little ones, and give your body a break.
Regular Chiropractic Adjustments
I am a huge believer in regular chiropractor adjustments! My personal experience has been that keeping my body in line helps relieve stress and pain from tense muscles and pinched nerves, relieves backaches that are common during pregnancy, aids in opening congested sinus cavities, and enables a faster birth since my pelvis in less apt to be be tilted and out of line during labor
During my first and second trimesters, I try to visit the chiropractor on a monthly basis. In the final trimester, my goal is to be adjusted bi-weekly, or even weekly if possible, until birth.
Of course, there is plenty to be said about eating a healthy diet, supporting the digestive tract, and taking red raspberry and other herbs during pregnancy, etc. If all this seems overwhelming to you, keep in mind that the motive is to be a wise steward of your health and your baby’s health, not to stress over what you may not be doing right.
Ultimately, our health and the health of our children is in God’s hands. Ask Him for wisdom to daily steward the gift of your body, then trust Him to lead and provide the wisdom and resources to make health a way of life.
While it’s true that birthing a baby is a very natural process and your body does know what to do, I firmly believe in the wisdom of educating yourself and aiming for the best possible birth experience you can have.
In the end, your birth story may or may not turn out exactly as you planned or desired (and home may not be the best place for you to give birth), but it certainly feels good to know you have done your best to prepare for your big day!
How do you prepare your body to give birth?