So, you have your birth plan ready for the big day, and it involves no drugs. You’ve decided to go the natural route, whatever your reasoning may be, and you’re feeling a bit anxious in anticipation. It’s totally understandable; your body is about to go through so much and it’s overwhelming knowing that you won’t have something to numb you through it. But childbirth is something that women have gone through since the beginning of time, and you should feel a sense of empowerment in choosing to experience it for all that it is. You can get through it without drugs and even have an amazing experience, but there are some steps that should be taken in the days and weeks leading up to labor in order to prepare your mind and body for what it’s about to go through.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert and content in this article is purely suggestive and should not by any means be considered professional advice.
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Fuel your body with food
Don’t forget to take your prenatal vitamins and eat nutritionally dense meals to power your body through labor. Labor is often compared to a marathon, and you will need the energy to sustain yourself. This doesn’t just mean you need to eat a good meal right before you go into labor, but in the weeks leading up to your due date, and of course, throughout your pregnancy. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and make sure you’re getting enough calories in (don’t forget that pregnant women need around 2400 calories a day in their third trimester!). This will set you up for success when it comes to making it through labor drug-free.
Gentle exercise goes a long way!
Using the same comparison between labor and a marathon, you will need to prepare your body by getting in some gentle exercise every day. Don’t underestimate the impact that a daily walk can have on your health. Get outside and move your body–even if that’s the last thing you feel like doing when you’re pregnant. Exercise will go a long way in giving you the endurance needed to get through labor, and some studies even suggest that exercising regularly throughout pregnancy can result in faster labors, which will help reduce your chances of giving in to that epidural.
Stretch your body
Do some stretches whenever you get the chance. When you first wake up in the morning, when you’re watching TV, when you’re folding laundry… Child’s pose can feel really good when you’re pregnant because it lightens the pressure on your pelvis while also lengthening pelvic floor muscles. Squatting has a similar effect and also stretches the perineum. Move your body around however feels right to you and practice some of your labor positions. It will feel good on your body and help your labor go more smoothly.
Take the time every day (or as often as you can) to sit and visualize how you would like your labor to go. Prepare a birth playlist and listen to it as you get into your laboring positions, practice your breathing, and imagine yourself getting through each contraction. Practice calming your brain and find some positive affirmations that will relax you during labor. This will help you feel more prepared so that when the time comes, these things will be more familiar and natural to you.
Know what to expect from labor
Read some books about childbirth so that you know what to expect from labor. Obviously, everyone’s labor is different, and you can never know exactly what to expect, but knowing the general process will bring you some comfort and keep you from feeling too anxious or worried. If you’re looking for recommendations, I have a post discussing the 3 books that helped prepare me for birth. You can find it here. Many of these books contain positive birth stories which will not only give you an idea of what to expect, but also help you to look forward to your labor rather than be afraid of it. These stories show you that natural childbirth can be a euphoric experience and a memory you will always treasure.
Following these steps will help prepare your body and mind for a successful natural labor. As your due date approaches, knowing you have taken these steps will reassure you that you are equipped to handle it without drugs or interventions. Of course, often times labor does not go as planned and some interventions are necessary for the well-being of you and baby, but these steps can be carried into those situations as well. And remember, whether or not your labor ends up being completely natural, you are bringing life into this Earth and for that you should feel both excited and empowered!
Meet Brittni Shoaf – Guest Blogger
This is a guest post written by Brittni from brittnilee.com. She is a naturally-inclined young mama sharing tips to live a healthy and fulfilling life, while navigating first-time pregnancy and parenthood. You can follow her on Instagram @brittnileee for daily inspirational motherhood & lifestyle content.
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