This information is written specifically to give first time mothers and first time VBAC moms suggestions for how to improve their chances at achieving a natural, easier delivery. But that doesn’t mean this is just for them! All of these suggestions can help ANY mom as she prepares for an optimal birth! Pregnancy and childbirth is such a special and exciting time, and it is also something to be prepared for ahead of time. It is good to keep in mind that a woman’s body was designed to give birth, and that, normally speaking, your body does know what to do to get the baby out. On the flip side, though, is the fact that this is the first time your body has ever experienced this process. Because of this, labor can sometimes last longer, and be more physically demanding, as your body takes the time it needs for all of the muscles and bones to work together and stretch to allow your baby to enter this world. If you have invested time and effort into preparing ahead of time, your body will benefit, both in the labor and recovery processes. Just think, you wouldn’t run a marathon without giving adequate training and preparation-and so it is with childbirth. You must condition your mind and body to give you the best results.
Throughout the pregnancy:
– Read and educate yourself! Take childbirth classes, together with your husband. This will help you both to be informed about the physical and emotional processes, and allow you to discuss ideals, hopes, and dreams before labor begins. I believe that education can also help to reduce the level of pain, as it helps you to understand what is going on in your body, instead of fearing the unknown. The more you can find out ahead of time, the more able you will be to relax, knowing your body is doing what it was intended to do. There are many books, DVD’s, and classes available-talk with me if you need suggestions!
– Eat a healthy diet. A diet full of good, healthful foods (vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates), and low in sugars, fats and simple carbohydrates, can help you in several areas. One, it doesn’t build a huge baby. A smaller baby is easier to push out! Secondly, it allows your body to be able to function at it’s optimal ability, as your energy level is increased. Thirdly, good nutrition can build better skin integrity, which decreases your chances of tears.
– Exercise regularly. Exercise is an extremely important factor, as labor and birth are very much physical events. Stretching, and building up your endurance level throughout the pregnancy will enable you to persevere if your labor gets long and tiresome. Throughout the last few weeks, walking briskly (until your pelvis hurts!) for at least 45 min. every day, can help to encourage the baby’s arrival to happen sooner rather than later.
– See a Chiropractor-if your body is not in alignment before labor, this can really slow things down and keep the baby from descending. While having regular adjustments can be helpful, it’s an especially good idea during the last 3-4 weeks, as it can help your body to relax and get the baby into the best possible position before labor begins.
– Visit http://www.spinningbabies.com and try some of Gail’s suggested techniques for helping baby to achieve the best position. Regularly implementing techniques such as inversions and belly sifting can help to reduce your overall labor time by helping your body to stay aligned and encouraging good position of the baby!
– Practice relaxation. If you can learn to relax, go limp, and let your body work before labor begins, then the better able you will be to do this during labor. Remember, fighting pain and discomfort works against you during labor-you must open up, let go, and relax in order for your uterus to function the most efficiently. And the more efficiently it works, the easier it will be on you! In practicing, pick times of the day when you can work on letting each area of your body go limp. Find out what helps you to relax: water, music, massage, etc., and then have these available during labor.
During the last 5 weeks:
– I encourage moms to take the following supplements:
- Gentle Birth Formula ~ this is a specially formulated blend of herbs in a tincture form that work to help prepare the uterus for the upcoming birth. You begin at 35 weeks by taking 2 dropperfulls a day throughout the first week, and increasing the amount to 2 dropperfulls 3x/day for the remaining weeks. Mothers who take this herb usually have more “warm-up” contractions, which help the cervix to begin dilation and effacement before actual labor. This tincture can be purchased through In His Hands Birth supply at the same time that you order your birth kit.
- Super Primrose Oil or Borage Oil ~ this supplement is in a soft-gel form, and you begin taking 1-2 capsules orally beginning at 35 weeks. Around 36-37 weeks, you may begin inserting one capsule vaginally at night when ready to go to bed. The high GLA content and natural prostaglandin that these oils contain helps the cervix to soften, making dilation easier. It’s a great way to give your body a head-start towards dilation!
In closing, remember to keep yourself hydrated, rest often, and take care of yourself. And when labor begins, try to get some rest before getting excited. You need to conserve the energy for later. So think about some activities that provide fun distraction (games, movies, going out for supper, etc.), and try to focus on other things until the contractions become consistent and strong enough that you can’t be distracted through them….