Giving birth is one of the most powerful experiences that any woman can have.
Even so, every woman understandably has concerns about how to make sure she has an easy labor.
After all, you’re basically shoving a bowling ball out of your lady parts in one dramatic go.
Yeah, it’s scary. But it doesn’t have to be.
Whether this pregnancy will make you a first-time mom, or you already have one or more children, you deserve to feel well prepared. So what are some things to focus on to make sure things go smoothly?
That’s what I’m here to share with you today.
Please note that I am not a doctor, and nothing I say is intended to replace the advice of a licensed health care provider. I strongly advise seeking the support of a doctor, who can help you manage any area of possible risk with your pregnancy, which is why the first piece of advice is:
1. Gather a team.
For many westerners, it’s super important to feel safe and supported throughout the pregnancy and delivery. For a lot of women, this means working with a medical professional. If this route is for you, then find a local doctor or other obstetrics and gynecology health care provider you trust, who can provide advanced electronic fetal monitoring throughout your pregnancy. You may want to consider someone who comes well recommended in your community.
Many others, like myself, prefer to have a more natural, holistic approach. In this case, many pregnant women hire a doula or certified nurse-midwife, who can help support you if you’d prefer birthing at home, rather than delivering at the hospital.
Another thing that could help but is often overlooked is to work with a chiropractor, who can make sure that your spinal cord, hips, and pelvic floor muscles are all aligned well for optimum development and birthing space.
There are so many different types of doctors to choose from as you build your pregnancy team, so take your time to find what’s right for you!
2. … And make a birth plan.
The earlier in your pregnancy you can have a birthing discussion with those who will be involved, the more time you’ll have to anticipate and make changes to your birth plan if needed. You’ll want to make sure that everyone knows what your preferences are ahead of time in terms of pain medication or surgery, who the point person is (such as your doula or certified nurse-midwife), which hospital or location you’ll be using, and what to do in case of any risk or unexpected changes, so that you can focus on listening to your body’s needs when the time comes.
Experienced professionals can also supply you with birth stories to hear more about how other pregnant women have made it through this journey.
Explore all options so that you not only know what is best for you and your baby but also what all of the back-up options are.
You might also like: Pregnant & Powerful: Prenatal Yoga – Vinyasa, Kundalini, Meditation, Mindset
3. Exercise! (Prenatal Yoga Helps)
While consulting with a health care provider is critical before taking on any new behaviors during pregnancy, it is widely agreed upon by many women that staying fit during pregnancy reduces pain and time spent in labor.
This also reduces your need for pain medication and positively affects your heart rate and blood pressure. Strengthening your hips, legs, and thighs with squats, for example, or your pelvic floor muscles with kegels give you the power you need during childbirth.
Another favored exercise practice is walking, which is favored as a more gentle way to get moving. And if you can use an exercise ball or birthing ball for sitting and exercising, it’s the best! An exercise ball or birthing ball ensures your core stays active and fit while you stay comfortable.
And, of course, prenatal yoga is another excellent way to safely and gentle take care of your body during pregnancy.
4. Eat Foods That Support Labor.
The stereotype is that pregnancy can create some pretty funny cravings (which is true!), but maybe some of these foods will be appetizing during your pregnancy because of the benefits they give you.
- Dates not only increase cervix dilation and reduce labor time by several hours (!), they have also been proven to reduce the chances of induced labor or the need for Pitocin if eaten daily during the last 6 weeks of your pregnancy.
- A uterus toner and hormone balancer, red raspberry leaf tea may shorten the duration of labor and reduce the need for medical interventions.
- Alfalfa is naturally high in vitamin K (also found in dark leafy greens like collards, spinach, and kale), which assists with blood-clotting and is every new mother’s friend in preventing postpartum hemorrhage.
Finally, although not for everyone, you may want to consider having your placenta dried, ground and capsuled for your post-birth recovery – consuming placenta capsules helps restore your system after giving birth. If you’re interested in trying them, please discuss these foods and supplements with your health care provider and other team members to decide what is best for you and your pregnancy.
5. Educate Yourself On Your Options.
Some of the best advice is to be open-minded and flexible. Maybe you know ahead of time that you don’t want an epidural, pain medication, episiotomy or a C-section, which is completely understandable. But if either of these things needs to happen for the health of you and your baby, it’s good to be mentally prepared for the unexpected.
A childbirthing class, which can be found at many birth centers, is a great resource for learning what to do during labor, practicing breathing techniques to keep you focused during uterine contractions and provide pain relief, and engage with community to hear others’ birth stories which can mentally and emotionally prepare you.
Knowing more about the stages of labor empowers you to know what’s going on with your body, and you can practice positions for labor to find what’s most comfortable for you at every stage of labor.
You’ll learn how to breathe through the labor pain, and also understand pain management well enough to decide if you could accept pain medication or an epidural if necessary. There are also pregnancy exercises to assist with fetal position, in case your baby needs help coming out of a posterior position towards the birth canal.
6. Take Care Of Your Emotional Well-Being.
An often forgotten aspect of pregnancy and the birthing process is that of emotions. In all of the hype around what we need to do, it’s easy to overlook how we feel about all of it. It’s your pregnancy – feel free to unplug and tune into yourself. Getting great sleep during your pregnancy has even been shown to reduce the time spent laboring.
Massage is another great way to feel good and also help your body through birth. And I don’t mean your well-meaning partner’s massages, as lovely as they are – a bodywork session from a trained professional who can help your hips, legs, thighs, knees and back adjust to the changes occurring to your body. You may also want to discuss aromatherapy with your doula, as a delicious natural scent can encourage you to inhale deeply and practice mindful breathing, which encourages calm and inner peace.
You might also like: 6 Crazy Easy Pregnancy Meditation Tips For A Powerful Practice
By following these suggestions, you can be sure that when your uterine contractions start, you’ll feel calm, know what to do, and have a plan of action around your birthing process that everyone can come together for.
Whether you’re in the obstetrics and gynecology ward of your hospital, resting between contractions in a hospital gown inside the birthing room with your labor and delivery nurses and your doctor, or you’re floating in a pool at home with your doula ready to head to the hospital if anything unexpected happens, you can be well prepared and have an easy labor.