Preparing your body for labor and delivery is not only possible, but it will also aid in your postpartum healing. The birth experience is no easy task, nor is it something to ignore until the time arrives. It is the culmination of an exhaustingly beautiful 9-month stretch. Your body is participating in the incredible work hosting, building, and forming a human being, so why not take a little extra time to prepare your body for its glorious arrival?
Labor and delivery are often compared to marathons: you would never sign up for a marathon unless you were committed to the time and effort it takes to train and prepare your body for the immense task set before you. If you decide to ignore your body and not take the time to prepare for labor and delivery, major injuries can occur. Even if you are able to labor and deliver your baby without any major injuries, the amount of time it takes your body to fully recover and heal after birth will be a lot longer than if you had prepared.
We suggest integrating these easy strategies into your weekly routine throughout your entire pregnancy to prepare your body for labor and delivery (and remember! it’s never too late to begin):
1. Sign up for and attend a childbirth class. Hospitals often offer classes at a discounted rate or for free. Local midwives and doulas will either teach these classes themselves or they’ll know of a certified instructor who does. There are also plenty of online childbirth classes, such as Melissa Meyer’s online Birth Boot Camp.
A primary way to prepare your body for labor and delivery is by becoming educated in what your body is going through during the birth process. Once you have a concrete foundation of knowledge, you will have the opportunity to trust your body even when in the most challenging times. Childbirth classes will also suggest various ways to ease pain during labor, train your birth partner on how to best serve you during labor, and create a safe space to voice your fears.
2. Prenatal Yoga. This is an important and very necessary tool in training your body for labor and delivery. Prenatal yoga not only helps your body during pregnancy, but it prepares your body for the birth experience. Prenatal yoga is beneficial for so many reasons! It creates an avenue to connect and bond with your baby; it relieves pregnancy aches and pains; it prepares and strengthens your muscles for what will need to be accomplished in the coming months. Find a local instructor and join a class. Most birthing centers will either host a class or know where to find one.
3. Exercise for 30 minutes each day. This does not mean go to the gym and lift weights. This can be as simple as a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. If you work long hours sitting down, spread the 30 minutes throughout the day: park further away in the parking lot, take the stairs, get up every hour and pace the office. Prenatal yoga also counts as exercise.
4. Cut back on sugar. I know, I know, no one wants to hear this or do this! Research studies have shown that when pregnant women cut out sugar, they are less likely to have a vaginal or perineal tear as well as fewer (if any) stretch marks. In general, your diet should be well rounded and have adequate amounts of protein, healthy fats, and water. There are plenty of articles online to help you discover the best diet for you. But really: cut back on the sugar. Especially in your drinks!
5. Stretch every day, at least twice a day. This is different from prenatal yoga, although you may learn some specific stretches to incorporate into your every day! Every morning before leaving your bedroom and every evening before going to bed, stretch. Take even just 5 minutes to love and prepare your body in this way.
Preparing your body for labor and delivery does not happen overnight, nor is it one giant colossal event. It is an ongoing, persistent love for your body, caring for it day after day. Use these 5 techniques to prepare for your birth experience.
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