Preparations For Birth

I’ve been trying for weeks now to write this post. It is something that I have been asked a lot about over the last number of weeks but, I wanted to ensure that I didn’t forget anything. I am quite passionate about this topic and I am excited to share my experience! I feel very strongly about how we treat ourselves and our bodies during pregnancy and how important it is for a healthy pregnancy and delivery/recovery. While in today’s society it is very hard to be perfect in everything we do, I do think it is essential to be deliberate and intentional with our choices as much as possible. Growing a human is important work and the more we can do for our bodies during this time, the better!

All that said,  I know women view pregnancy in many different ways. For some, it’s a time of magic and wonder and for others it’s a time they want to get through as soon as possible due to health scares, morning sickness, pains, etc. One thing is for certain, that baby is getting out one way or another. My view – why not do everything you can to try to make sure your body is as ready as it can be? From eating well  to the supplements we take to preparations for birth, there is so much that is in our control.

Everything about pregnancy, birth, and babies fascinates me. Although there are many uncomfortable things about pregnancy, it is really a miraculous experience. When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, like many expectant mothers, I researched so many things. I wanted to know everything I could about the whole process. I was also very cautious not to read too much into what I didn’t want to happen as I wanted my mind to be positive and excited. I wanted to mentally prepare myself to have a short and comfortable labour. I read positive birthing stories (check out Ina May Gaskin books) and refused to hear about the scary sides of labour – not that I didn’t know there are risks and complications, but I simply wanted to mentally focus on the positive sides of delivery.

I want to preface this by saying I don’t think one way of birthing a baby is better than the other and I truly believe it is all birth. C-section mamas are heroes in my eyes because to go through surgery and have to take care of newborn right after, wow, that is some crazy strength right there. This post was born out of my love of pregnancy and all things birth and baby. It really does fascinate me, the whole process, and I really tried to learn everything I could about readying my body. What I could do to have the natural delivery I desired and what I could do to help myself heal after any potential complication. This is just my own experience and what I think worked for me. What may have worked for me, may not work for you, and that’s okay too. I am aware there is much that is out of our control in many circumstances. 

Always talk to your doctor or midwife and decide what you are comfortable proceeding with.

I have been asked a lot of questions around how I was able to have such easy labours. The short answer really is, I have no idea. My 5’10 125lb frame birthed two 9lb babies naturally without a hiccup. Yes, it was somewhat painful but nothing terrible for me. I am slim with small hips and I had little trouble delivering bigger babies. Maybe it’s their head size being not too big, maybe it’s the size of my pelvis, maybe the preparations help, and maybe it’s a combination of things – I may never know! What I do know is I am happy to have had some resources on my side to try to prep my body for what was to come. Yes our bodies are made to do this but any help I could give my body, I was going to try!

Obviously, there are many times where things are out of your control and the health of the baby is first and foremost. Sometimes no matter how much labour prep you do, nature just has other plans. In my case, I have been told by doctors, midwives, and doulas that these things can help and some were even recommended by my midwives.

Labour

I had two different but good experiences with labour. For my first delivery experience three years ago, I delivered in hospital with a doctor and nurses, without any interventions or medication – you can read that birth story, here. For my second labour I was at home with a midwife and that labour was about an hour from start to finish and you can also read that story, here.

Overall, my game-plan going into my first birth was go with the flow. If I wanted to manage pain and there was time do to so, I would, but I would try to do it as naturally as I could for as long as possible. Neither time I needed anything for pain management.

In each pregnancy I used similar preparations for each labour.

This post is for information purposes only. Please talk to your healthcare provider to decide what is right for you and your pregnancy.

Leading up to labour

Teas

I love teas in pregnancy because they can provide added nutrients and mental health benefits as well as labour preparation.

  • Red Raspberry Leaf

    • I drank this tea regularly throughout pregnancy but there are many schools of thought on this one. I was comfortable with 1 cup a day per trimester however some women find it gives them horrible Braxton hicks. Listen to your body and do what you’re comfortable with. This tea is good for strengthening the uterus and is said to help shorten the duration of labour and possibly reduce the need for medical interventions. Most recommendations point to consumption after after the first trimester and to limit consumption until 37 weeks. I drank it throughout because it not only helps strengthen the uterus but also contains amazing vitamins and minerals including b vitamins, vitamin c, potassium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron.

  • Nettle Tea

    • This tea is great throughout pregnancy but especially helpful towards the end of pregnancy as it is high in vitamin K, which is important in pregnancy for baby, in addition to being high in other vitamins and minerals. I’ve been using nettle tea for years to boost my immune system but it really does have so many benefits!

This is an amazing recipe for pregnancy tea which includes red raspberry leaf and nettle – you can buy high quality nettle and red raspberry leaf in Calgary at Community Natural Foods (in bulk) or at the Light Cellar.

Dates

I took dates throughout my pregnancy because I enjoyed the taste of them but also for their supposed benefits for labour. According to one study dates can help to soften the cervix and aid in cervical dilation and possibly reduce the need for medical intervention.

Easy Birth

  • This is a homeopathic remedy to gently encourage the baby into the optimal position for birth and to reduce pain during labour. I took this from 37 weeks under the supervision of my midwives. More information can be found here.

Chiropractic Care

  • I have scoliosis so I see a chiropractor regularly to help me manage my back pain. My chiropractor is very knowledgeable about preparing the body for labour and adjustments for pregnancy and labour. She specializes in the webster technique which is very important when looking for a chiropractor for pregnancy. Being aligned going into labour I think helps the body to do what it knows how to do and to move things along more quickly and easily. There are studies to back this up as well.

Yoga

  • Anything you can do to get that baby down low and in the optimal position is beneficial during pregnancy and for birth. It can also help with mindset! I didn’t get to as many classes as I would have liked in my second pregnancy due to having an older child however, there are many great prenataly yoga videos online that are very helpful.

Affirmations

  • While there are many things that we know can go wrong in labour I did my best to not focus on the horror stories. While it is important to have information and knowledge about what can happen, I think it is also important to keep a positive mindset as much as possible

During Labour

Essential Oils

Depending on where you are birthing, essential oils can have their place. I do know some hospitals have a scent-free policy so they may not allow essential oils. I found peppermint oil to be extremely helpful in both my labours to decrease nausea and I believe that it definitely helped me avoid throwing up. I simply inhaled it straight from the bottle. I am no essential oil expert and there are many that can be useful during labour.

Shower/Warm Water

I wanted a water birth the second time around but, baby just came way too quick for that to happen! The warm water from the shower was really helpful during the early contractions in both labours for me.

I could go on and on about this topic. I think it is amazing what our bodies can do!

What helped you in labour? Comment below! 

shannon louis