Literally no one has asked this, hahaha, but I thought it would be an interesting blog post to talk about everything I’m doing to prepare for labor and delivery! I apologize to all of you who aren’t pregnant right now, cause you might not think it’s very interesting unless you have to go through labor yourself. Since I’m 30 weeks pregnant and baby girl’s due date is not so far away now, I have to admit that I’m getting a little nervous about giving birth. No matter what, I have to go through with it now, haha! That being said, I’ve been doing some research and have a plan to prepare my body as best as I can to make sure that labor and delivery go as smoothly as possible. Obviously I know that there are so many unexpected things that can happen during delivery… but at the end of the day, I want to feel like I prepared as best I could!
Here’s everything we are doing or have done to prepare:
Hire a Doula
We made the decision to hire a doula after hearing how helpful they are during labor and delivery and how they can actually improve birth outcomes. A doula provides physical and emotional support to you and your partner and is also highly trained in techniques to guide you through labor by helping you breathe, relax, change positions, etc. Our doulas have a very natural approach to childbirth, which we love, and they’re available via text 24/7 anytime I have a question. I really wanted a doula present in the hospital room because they act as an intermediary between you and the doctor – for example, if the doctor is about to perform an episiotomy without a mother’s consent, the doula might say, “Dr. Smith has scissors in his hand. Do you have any questions about what he is wanting to do with the scissors?” I love that the doula listens to the mother, supports her decisions and helps amplify her voice during labor and delivery.
Chris and I have been taking online birthing classes through our doula (here is the link – I’m pretty sure anyone can buy and watch the online classes). They have been so helpful for us because honestly, I did not know much about labor before this!! The online classes walk you through what it means to be dilated, effaced, and all of those other technical terms, what to do while you’re laboring at home, some techniques to help you relax while you’re in labor, how to know you’re in active labor, and much, much more. We are only on the third video but already feel like we know what to expect, and just knowing what’s going to happen makes it feel less “scary” and unknown – and helps us feel more confident!
Eat Dates Every Day
A lot of people think this is an old wives tale, but I did find several studies that backed up the claim that eating dates in your third trimester helps with labor! Randomized trials found that eating six to eight dates a day during late pregnancy helped increase cervical ripening and reduce the need for medical labor induction or augmentation. I don’t eat dates every day (yet), but I do have several per week – I like to toss them in smoothies, but my favorite way to eat them is to take the pit out and replace it with my favorite peanut butter instead. I call it “Nature’s Reese’s!” As we get closer to the due date, I will increase my intake of dates to several per day.
Continue to Work Out
I’m not going to lie – it has been difficult for me to work out during pregnancy! I feel like my muscles are weaker and I just don’t have as much energy as my pre-pregnancy self. However, one of my sweet readers sent me a message that really resonated with me. She said that giving birth is like an intense workout, and afterward she wished she had “trained” for it by doing more cardio! I think this is a great mindset… every time I work out, I think about it as though I’m training for a marathon. Keeping your body active, going on lots of walks and doing some strength-training exercises will keep your body and muscles strong when it’s finally “go time!” I try to take a couple of at-home pure barre classes per week and go on at least two walks per day. Even on days where I feel really tired, I at least try to get in a 15-minute prenatal yoga class.
Spinning Babies Exercises
You can start to do some exercises in the third trimester that help the baby get in the right position for birth. Ideally, you want the baby to be head down in an anterior position (where the baby’s head is facing toward your back). I had no idea that practicing certain exercises every day can help create more space for your baby to get into the right position for birth! Our doula gave us a few positions to practice every day, such as pelvic rocking and squatting (both from the Spinning Babies website). My friend had a breech baby and was able to get the baby head down after several weeks of these exercises!
Weekly Chiropractor Visits
I started seeing a Webster Certified chiropractor in my second trimester, since my back pain was so bad in my first trimester. (Side note: if you are going to to a chiropractor during pregnancy, make sure they are Webster Certified! Chiropractors who are Webster Certified have the training needed to deal with pelvic balance during pregnancy and they are VERY gentle!) I really love and trust my chiropractor – she is amazing and has always been 100% honest with me about what a chiropractor can (and can’t) do. There is a lot of evidence that getting regular chiropractic adjustments throughout your pregnancy can help ensure your pelvis, spine and hips are properly aligned – and provide a faster labor and easier delivery. I will say… ever since I started going to her, my back pain has been almost nonexistent! I mean, I even drove 14 hours up to New York and back and did not experience a single bit of back pain!!! I only see my chiropractor once a week for now, but later on in pregnancy (around 35 weeks), I will start seeing her twice a week.
I won’t go into too much detail about perineal massage here on the blog (if you’re curious, just google it, haha), but I ordered this olive oil butter specifically for my perineal area and have been practicing a perineal massage weekly since the second trimester. I don’t do this every single night, but usually a couple of times per week after I’ve taken a shower or bath. I’ve had a few friends who said that keeping this area moisturized and massaged help reduce tearing during labor.
Continue to Eat Healthy
Another thing that has been a priority for me during pregnancy: continuing to eat healthy! I got into a bad habit in my first trimester of giving into my sugar cravings (especially when I felt nauseous), and to be honest, it has been difficult to break the cycle during the rest of pregnancy. I still have some pretty vicious cravings for sugar (which I do indulge in), but for the most part we have continued to make nourishing, home-cooked meals with organic ingredients. One major difference is that I snack A TON more these days! I am pretty much always hungry and have to eat every hour, on the hour. I’ve learned that if I keep my fridge and pantry stocked with heathy snacks instead of junk food, then that is what I’ll reach for – and it makes a huge difference in how I feel, from my energy levels to my mood! My go-to healthy snacks during pregnancy have been apples with peanut butter, Greek yogurt with granola and fresh fruit, avocado toast, and a handful of nuts like almonds and walnuts.
If you have any other tips for preparing for labor and delivery, please let us all know in the comments!!
P.S. If you missed any of my other pregnancy blog posts, I have written a ton of other posts, including what’s on our baby registry, what I eat in a week, my pregnancy must-haves, etc! Check them out here. 🙂