10 Ways I’m Preparing for Labor

So, sadly, up to this point, I have not lived up to my commitment to blog more during my pregnancy, which is a shame because this process has taught me so much already. As of today, I am officially 29 weeks, one week into my third trimester. As our baby’s birth date comes ever closer, I have started thinking about ways that I have begun to prepare for the process of labor and birth and ways that I plan to prepare and thought I would share a few with you.

1. Connecting with my partner and our baby: My partner Lee and I have been finding ways to connect with one another and our baby throughout the pregnancy. From talking to/singing to/playing with the baby in utero to massaging oil on my belly to taking belly photos, we have really been enjoying this time and seeing it as a new way to connect to one another and to the newest member of our family. As we have moved closer to the birth itself, we have been going to childbirth education classes together, which has helped us find new ways to connect as well as helped us prepare mentally and emotionally for the big birth day ahead.

2. Exercise: Studies show that women who exercise throughout their pregnancy not only reduce the likelihood of pregnancy complications, but also provide important health benefits to their babies. Throughout my pregnancy, I have been making a commitment to stay healthy and active. For me, this looks like walking 4-5 miles at least 4 times per week and going to at least one prenatal yoga class weekly. I also snagged a Groupon for belly dancing classes and am loving shimmying this big ol’ belly!

3. Holistic Care: I have been seeing an acupuncturist/Chinese herbalist and a chiropractor/massage therapist specializing in working with pregnant women since before I became pregnant and am going more frequently as my pregnancy progresses. Both acupuncture and chiropractic care have been shown to help alleviate aches and pains in pregnancy, enhance the immune system, and prepare the pregnant body for labor and birth. I credit my ongoing preventive care with these practitioners with my overall good energy and health in this pregnancy. In my third trimester, I have added Mayan Abdominal massages to my routine. Our little one loves his or her massage and it will also serve to help keep my pelvis nice and balanced and open in preparation for labor.

4. Slowing down at work: My plan had been to continue my work as a birth and postpartum doula and childbirth educator through my 8th month of pregnancy, taking progressively fewer clients in my third trimester. Sadly, my body has been showing signs for several months that overnights and long births are no longer supportive to my or our baby’s health. It was the most challenging decision that I have made in this pregnancy so far, but I have called upon my partners and back up team to support several of my clients during their births, stopped working postpartum and am winding down early with teaching. As heartbroken as I am to miss out on what will be some beautiful and amazing births and classes, I know that I am making the right choice for myself, our baby, and my clients by stepping away from work earlier.

5. Prioritizing sleep: Sleep seems to be very hit or miss during pregnancy and it seems easy to get into good or bad sleep cycles depending on the week. I have really had to carve out a lot of time in my life to prioritize sleep, so that I can properly wind down at night and go to bed early and also can rest/nap during the daytime on the rare days when I am not able to sleep well at night. Managing to get good sleep has gotten progressively harder as the baby has gotten bigger and I’m imagining that this is going to be an ongoing and ever intensifying challenge during this trimester.

6. Drinking tons of water and mama-to-be tea: My doula clients will tell you that staying hydrated is my number one piece of advice to pregnant mamas and I am following my own advice by drinking at least 64 oz of water or herbal tea daily. After trying many different types of red raspberry leaf pregnancy tea, my favorite (i.e. the only one I can stand) is definitely Yogi Mama to Be tea. I make sure to have a cup daily. This trimester, I will be adding date shakes starting around 36 weeks gestation. A recent study showed that women who eat at least 6 dates daily during their last month of pregnancy, have shorter, easier labors. The theory is that dates assist the ripening, softening and effacing of the cervix. And dates are yummy, especially with almond milk, fruit and spices in a shake, so seems worth a try!

7. Orgasms: Um…is this TMI? Well I’m going for it. Speaking of things that are yummy, I have been keeping up with a commitment to myself to have at least one orgasm a day, or at least most days. So far, I haven’t found this difficult while pregnant, despite no longer being able to see the organs in question, as it feels like blood flow and circulation to that whole area has increased. It really feels like orgasms are toning my uterus and, whether they are or not, I know that they are releasing a lot of oxytocin to me and our baby and making us both really happy.

8. Listening to hypnosis tracks: I have the tracks for Hypnobabies, HypBirth and HypnoBirthing and have been listening to them interchangeably depending on what speaks to me throughout this pregnancy. I also have some favorite breathing, relaxation and sleep meditations that are not childbirth related that I’ve continued to use. These tracks help me relax, connect to our baby, and sleep. I love all of the different birth affirmations and positive cues about labor and birth as well.

9. Taking baths: I add 2 c epsom salts, 1/4 c baking soda, few drops of essential oils (my favorites are lavender oil from doTERRA and the Mother blend from Floracoepia) and sit in a nice warm bath nearly every day. Some days I read, some days I pamper myself with a hair or body treatment, some days I listen to music, some days I just rub my belly and smile. Bathing is a lovely time to appreciate my body and all it is doing to grow our child, helps keep my muscles relaxed and definitely helps me sleep when I bathe before bed.

10. Paying attention to fetal positioning: I am a total dork about Jean Sutton and Gail Tully and all of the work and research that they have developed about our posture and body mechanics and how it contributes to fetal positioning. Even though baby Blueberry (that’s our little one’s nickname!) is still little and moving around a ton at 29 weeks, I have been cognizant about my posture and optimizing balance in my pelvis during this pregnancy. My sweet mama found me a Variable Balans rocking chair on eBay that I use when sitting at my desk, I have been using the Spinning Babies rest smart position (basically exaggerated SIMS position) for sleeping and resting consistently, and I just generally try to sit or rest in positions that support good posture at least 80% of the time. As we get closer to the end of pregnancy, I plan to incorporate the daily exercises from Spinning Babies on a more routine basis. I have also committed to not be too hard on myself with all of this. Every now and then, I love to tilt my pelvis back and put my feet up and watch TV, but I try not to make that the norm.

As I look back at this list, I realize that it might seem overwhelming or like I’ve put too much thought into all of this, but truthfully, these 10 things have really enhanced my well being during this pregnancy and I can’t help but imagine that they will help the process of labor and birth as well. Can’t wait to find out!!! What did you do or are you doing to prepare for labor?

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