As well as packing a hospital bag, writing a Birthing Plan and buying everything you think you need for your new arrival there are four main things you need to focus on with your own body that will help to prepare you for the “Big Day”.
Here are the Top Four Things You Can Do To Prepare Yourself For Labour
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
As women, we should be doing pelvic floor exercises on a regular basis, and in pregnancy, this is even more important. Strong pelvic floor muscles are invaluable at this time as they allow you to carry the extra weight of your baby as well as lowering your risk of experiencing incontinence both during pregnancy and after giving birth. Some midwives also believe that your ability to feel how to relax your pelvic floor can help tremendously in the second stage of labour. However, with all this talk pelvic floor exercises are so easily forgotten by most women. So it’s worth trying to link the exercises to an activity to help you remember; try to every time you are on the phone, stop at traffic lights or boil the kettle to give them a go! For details of how to do pelvic floor exercises click here.
Another aspect of exercising your nether regions is to practice squatting. The pro-squatting people claim that whilst pelvic floor exercises will tighten/shorten the pelvic floor and cause your tail bone (coccyx) to curl under; squatting will strengthen your gluteus muscles and as a result they will pull your sacrum back, allowing your pelvic floor to stretch. In addition squatting in labour with increase the pelvic diameter by 30%; resulting in a shorter second stage. So practicing this position in pregnancy with also give you increased strength and the ability to maintain the position longer as you push/breathe your baby out. There are lots of articles on the web about the right versus wrong way to squat and that rather than seeing it as a choice of either squatting or pelvic floor exercises there is a strong suggestion that a combination of the two is the best way forward. To read more about the correct way to squat click here.
3. Optimal Baby Position
We’re not just talking head down here; ideally, you want to be aiming for your baby’s back to be running along the front of your bump or along either side. If your baby is lying with their back against your back (midwives refer to this as the OP position) then this can make for a longer labour and a more painful one at that. To avoid this position or correct it try sitting on a birthing/gym ball with your legs wide apart and lean forward so you can rest your arms/head onto a low ironing board. It is worthwhile adopting this kind of position towards the end of your pregnancy when watching TV as leaning backwards into the settee can be a route cause to OP babies. In previous generations back to back babies weren’t as common because we didn’t have the comfy sofas and women were leaning forwards scrubbing floors, doorsteps and cleaning hearths! Don’t worry I’m not suggesting you start doing that; a gym ball is much easier!
4. Perineal Massage
Perineal massage is becoming more and more common as midwives are now more proactive about advising women to undertake this massage from 34 weeks of pregnancy. It’s certainly not a fad though as research has found it can reduce the risk of needing a cut in labour (episiotomy) and also help to reduce the risk of tearing. In my time as a midwife I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t want to avoid tearing or being cut, so it’s got to be worth trying. It only takes 5 -10 minutes and can be done as much as every day or just 2-3 times a week; whatever you feel comfortable with. You are advised to use suitable oil due to the sensitive area; see here for “Down Below” our specially developed perineal massage oil that is fragrance free.
Thanks for reading
Jane – The Midwife
For more blogs on pregnancy, birth and life as a new mum please visit www.naturalbirthingcompany.com/blogs/news
If you are unsure about anything or have any concerns whilst pregnant please speak to your Midwife.