Labour Prep 101
You made it to the final stretch! 37 weeks and beyond!
As you come close to the end of pregnancy, you may find yourself eager to meet your little one, or maybe you’re having a rough pregnancy and just want it to be over with. Perhaps you just don’t want to find yourself close to 42 weeks and having to schedule an induction.
Once you reach 37 weeks you can start to think about ways to prepare your body for labour and childbirth, as you have officially reached full term! Your baby should be ready to survive and thrive on the other side now, with little to no medical intervention.
You may be amping up and seeing your acupuncturist or chiropractor more, or visiting with your pelvic floor physiotherapist to do some perineal massage and make sure your pelvic floor is ready for the task at hand. If you have access to it, I hope you do all of the above! Having a great prenatal support team is key at any point in pregnancy, especially as you near the end.
Here are my top tips for preparing your body for labour and delivery
Reverse Kegels and Breathing Techniques
A classic kegel exercise is when you engage your pelvic floor on every exhalation, and release and expand your pelvic floor on every in breath. As you approach the end of your pregnancy, it’s time to start working on releasing the pelvic floor on both the inhale AND the exhale. Our instinct when we experience pain generally tells us to tense up, but we are training to do the opposite. Surrender to pain and let the muscles relax through contractions.
Try breathing in for a count of 4, and breathing out for a count of 4. With your hands on your ribs, feel your ribs expand into your hands as you inhale, and then imagine your pelvic floor opening like a blossoming flower on your exhale. Practice this visual often so that when baby comes you can “breathe the baby out” rather than forcefully push and tense up.
Use the Epi-No
The epi-no is a tool that is made in Germany. It’s essentially a balloon that you inflate just inside the vaginal opening and hold for 10 minutes at a time to get your tissues to get used to the feeling of being stretched during childbirth. Eventually, you want to be able to blow the balloon up to 10cm wide, but you do it gradually over time, 10 minutes a day starting at 37 weeks. Here is a video of Kim Vopni from Bellies Inc explaining how to use it.
This tool is meant to help you prevent tearing or having to have an episiotomy.
Using herbal teas can be helpful to get the uterus toned for childbirth. The main herb that does this is red raspberry leaf tea, but there are lovely formulas you can buy that are helpful for the last leg of your pregnancy. Try to drink 4-5 cups of this tea daily, and buy loose leaf if you can. Boil for 15 minutes, and then cover for 15 minutes for best therapeutic effects.
More about red raspberry leaf: This herb is a uterine tonic. A common misconception is that it makes your uterus contract. It doesn’t. It just helps to tone the uterine muscles so that when you’re in labour, you have a well functioning uterus to help you push that baby out. It contains an alkaloid called fragrine which gives tone to the muscles around the pelvis. This herb is also very nutritive, rich in vitamin C, E, A, B, calcium, iron, phosphorus and potassium. It’s also known to prevent miscarriage, hemorrhage, morning sickness, and helps with pain relief during labour and after birth.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil contains essential fatty acids used by your body to make prostaglandins, which help to soften the cervix in preparation for labour. Take 1000mg orally and 1000mg inserted vaginally daily after 36 weeks.
What else can I do?
Keep moving, keep eating well, stay hydrated, dance, have sex, orgasms, and semen to soften the cervix!
Aside from that, just enjoy the ride and your baby will come in due time, whether you are successfully able to bring on labour naturally, or you have to be induced or have a cesarian birth. As long as mama and baby come out healthy and safe, that’s really all that matters 🙂
Interested in learning more about postpartum recovery? Don’t forget to download my 5 step blueprint to healing your body after pregnancy!