Are you currently expecting and dreaming of a natural birth? Wondering what all you should be doing to prepare your body for labor?
Women that have natural births typically have shorter labors, higher rates of breastfeeding success, and a quicker postpartum recovery. Not to mention, there’s less stress on your baby and the fact that natural birth is just so empowering. So, what all can you do to increase your odds of avoiding interventions and going all-natural?
In this post, we’ll cover 11 of the best ways that you can prepare your body for a natural birth.
How to Prepare Your Body for a Natural Birth
Natural birth is beautiful and empowering, but it doesn’t come easy. It often takes a lot of preparation for the big day. By doing the 11 things listed below, you’ll be boosting your chances of having a calm and quick natural birth.
Attend Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga can help prep your body for a smoother labor and delivery in so many ways.
Through meditation and deep breathing exercises, you’ll gain the ability to stay calm and focused on the big day. You’ll gain a deep connection to your baby, learn how to trust your body, and minimize any anxiety you may be having about giving birth.
You’ll also learn how to teach your body’s muscles to relax. A must for natural birth. Allowing your body to relax and not tense up during labor will encourage your baby to descend, promoting dilation and quicker progression.
Prenatal yoga is also filled with strength-building poses and hip-opening poses to help build your stamina and get your baby into an optimal position for birth.
Try finding a local prenatal class in your area or purchase some DVDs for at-home yoga. You may also be able to find some practices on YouTube.
Take Time for Daily Hip Openers
If you’re not doing daily prenatal yoga, then I highly recommend at least making the time for hip openers each and every day.
Hip openers, such as butterfly stretches, hip flexors, straddle stretch, and pigeon pose, can encourage your baby to move into an optimal birthing position and down the birth canal. They’ll help prep your pelvis and keep your joints strong and flexible for a shorter, easier labor.
Incorporating these stretches into your daily prenatal routine will also help boost your energy levels, reduce stress/anxiety, prevent muscle soreness, and improve your circulation. They can even help deliver more oxygen to your baby.
You can find descriptions of how to perform each of these stretches over on Baby Chick.
Do Lots of Squats
Squats, in particular, also open your hips and encourage your baby to descend and engage. Doing deep squats daily will help relax and lengthen your pelvic floor muscles and stretch the perineum, prepping your body for the big day. Squats strengthen your leg muscles and enhance your endurance.
Squatting is also helpful during labor, as it creates more room for baby to descend. In fact, many women end up pushing and delivering in the squatting position.
“Squat 300 times a day, and you’re going to give birth quickly.” – Ina May Gaskin
Start Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Of course, eating healthy and drinking lots of water is so important during pregnancy, but there’s also a few particular things you can add to your diet to help prepare your body for birth.
Drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy can help shorten your labor time, make contractions less painful and more productive, and prevent postpartum hemorrhaging. It can even help prevent pre and post term childbirth and promote breast milk supply.
If you start drinking red raspberry leaf tea during your third trimester, you’ll be setting yourself up for an easier, more optimal labor. It’s really amazing what some simple tea can do.
Eat Some Dates
Along with red raspberry leaf tea, many moms and midwives also recommend adding dates to your pre-birth diet.
Recent research has shown that expecting moms who consumed 60-80 grams of dates during late pregnancy have a higher chance of going into labor on their own and typically have a quicker labor progression. Eating 6 dates a day can increase the ripening of your cervix, reducing the need for medical induction and augmentation.
Dates are also loaded with vitamin K, so eating them late in pregnancy can help reduce postpartum blood loss and improve your baby’s blood clotting abilities.
However, you’ll probably want to avoid these or consult with your physician first if you have gestational diabetes due to the amount of sugar in them.
If you don’t like the taste of dates, you could try out some of these creative date fruit recipes.
Get Your Cardio In
Regular exercise during pregnancy can actually decrease your odds of needing an emergency c-section. Having a fit cardiovascular system can also just make it easier for you to get through labor and delivery.
Light to moderate cardio, such as walking or swimming, can help build your stamina and is perfect for women who are later in their pregnancies. Of course, be sure not to push yourself. Exercise to your comfort level.
If you’re experiencing any discomfort or cramps be sure to stop. If it’s persistent, go ahead and give your provider a call.
Sway on a Birthing Ball
Sitting on a birthing ball during pregnancy can help alleviate any aches and pains, especially in your hips and back. Birthing ball exercises stretch and open the hips, keeping your pelvis in good alignment.
Bouncing on a birthing ball can also help keep your baby in a good position, get them to engage, and even promote dilation. Doing these exercises daily will help strengthen all the muscles that will be used during labor and delivery. You can even use your birthing ball on the big day as a natural pain management tool.
See a Chiropractor
Chiropractic care during pregnancy can also help alleviate any aches and pains and just make you feel awesome. It also makes sure there’s plenty of room for your growing baby by aligning your pelvis properly.
Chiropractic care can get your baby into a good birthing position and allow them to descend further into your pelvis. This helps set you up for a natural, non-invasive delivery and can even help shorten your labor time.
Just be sure to seek a chiropractor who specializes in prenatal care.
Do Your Kegels
Kegels help strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, and bowels. These are the same muscles you use when you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing.
Doing kegels throughout your pregnancy may help ease many late-pregnancy and postpartum discomforts, such as hemorrhoids and incontinence. By strengthening your uterus, you will also be setting yourself up for less painful and more productive contractions. Pushing may seem like a breeze, especially if you’re blessed with the fetal ejection reflex.
To do kegels, you’re basically going to contract or squeeze your vaginal muscle, hold your squeeze for three to 10 seconds, and then release for three seconds. Repeat this up to 10 times. You’ll also want to be sure you’re doing your kegels without tightening your abdominal, buttock, or thigh muscles.
You’re probably going to start feeling extremely fatigued the closer you get to your due date (or guess date, as I like to call it). Listen to your body and go take a nap mama! You will be thankful later.
You’re going to need to be well rested for when the big day arrives. Because sometimes, no matter what you do, labor likes to take it’s sweet time. Especially if you’re a first time mom. You’re going to need all the energy you can get to make it through labor.
I know you’re probably going to feel anxious and overwhelmed and feel like you have a million things to do before your baby arrives, but do take the time to relax and connect with your partner, baby, and family. This will help you stay calm and energized, as your baby prepares to come earthside.
Get in the Right Mindset
Your physical body has to be ready for childbirth, but more importantly, you need to be in the right mental state in order to avoid that epidural. Discuss your fears and worries with your doula and/or health care provider prior to birth, so you can gain the tools you need to overcome them.
Hypnobabies, as well as positive birth affirmations, really helped me to face my fears head on before giving birth to my second child. Pick out some of your favorite affirmations and recite them to yourself daily.
Print some off or even create cards of your own and make a banner out of them. Hang it up on your wall as helpful daily reminders and use it when your birthing day comes.
You may find inspiration by watching natural childbirth videos on YouTube or joining natural birth support groups on Facebook. You could also try reading some encouraging books, like Childbirth Without Fear, Spiritual Midwifery, and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.
Trust Your Body
Taking the time to prep your body can go a long way in having a successful, natural birth.
You can widen your pelvis and encourage your baby to move into an optimal birthing position by doing lots of hip openers, such as prenatal yoga, simple stretches, and lots of squats. Chiropractic care and birthing ball exercises can also help tremendously.
Adding dates and red raspberry leaf tea to your diet can cut your chances of having to be induced and even help shorten your labor time. Cardio will help build your stamina for the big day and kegels will help ease common postpartum discomforts, such as hemorrhoids and urine leakage. Be sure to also take this time to relax and set your intentions in order to manifest your perfect birth.
Doing these 11 things throughout pregnancy will help you achieve a calm, peaceful, and natural birth.
Keep calm and trust your body mama!
What About You?
What did you do to prepare your body for a natural birth? Share your best tips with us in the comments below and be sure to share this post with all your expecting mama friends.