No two labour experiences are the same and they seldom go according to any preconceived schedule. Birth plans are great, but it’s also important to keep an open mind and remember that your baby and your body are going to work according to their own plan. That said, there are ways that you can prepare for the marathon ahead…
1. Get active
Take some time out of your daily schedule to exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to haul your pregnant tummy down to the gym. There are loads of convenient, preggy-friendly ways to keep active. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or take a 10-minute walk. If you work in an office get up from your desk and walk around every hour to keep the blood flowing. This will also help you remember your posture. Shoulders back and tummy tight. This might sound impossible but a good posture will help keep your baby positioned correctly for a smooth labour.
2. Practise your pelvic floors
Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels as well as squatting, are key to preparing for labour. Practice squatting by standing against the wall with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly slide down the wall into a seated position, hold this for 5 to 10 seconds and then repeat.
To do pelvic tilts, start with your hands and knees on the floor. Pull in your stomach and arch your back upwards. Hold this for a few seconds, then relax your tummy and back. Repeat 3 or 5 times. This is also known as the cat stretch.
3. Beauty sleep
It might seem impossible to sleep when you are enormous, uncomfortable and have a busy baby kicking away inside you. But the experts say that it is important you sleep as much as possible in the weeks and days leading up to your due date. Being well rested will help with your stamina during labour. According to research it’s good to adopt the habit of sleeping on your left side early on in your pregnancy. This helps alleviate some of the discomfort, allowing you to fall asleep faster.
4. Eat a balanced diet
This is an important aspect of a healthy life, and even more so when you are preparing to give birth. Make nutrition a priority, as if you were preparing for a long distance race, which in a way, you are. Choose whole, unprocessed foods wherever possible and make sure you eat plenty of good, healthy fats. Fat found in avos and flaxseed oil for example ensures your tissue is supple and pliable and is less likely to tear during birth.
Take plenty of warm baths, attend prenatal yoga classes, sleep when you’re tired and practice your breathing techniques. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you while you are pregnant. If you are having trouble sleeping due to fear or anxiety, speak to someone about it, attend pre-natal classes and accumulate as much knowledge as possible from other moms. Look after yourself during this time, take a deep breath and enjoy it. You’re heading for the finish line and there is the world’s most wonderful prize waiting for you!