When my daughters asked how they got out of my tummy, saying that the doctor helped wasn’t a good enough explanation for them. Without getting into too much detail, we talked about how babies are delivered vaginally. My seven year old then asked if it hurts to have a baby come out of your vagina. The response was honest and simple -- yes it hurts, a lot (especially if you have a natural childbirth!).
My goal was to get through a manageable childbirth as quickly as possible. A girlfriend had told me her terrible story (see this post) one day as she handed me a copy of Your Best Birth. Although I was grateful that she shared this important information, it absolutely petrified me.
Working together with my naturopathic and medical (OBGYN) doctors, I developed a strategy to prepare my body for childbirth knowing that it was completely possible for my birth plan to go out the window in the blink of an eye.
Here are my 5 must-do tips for preparing your body for labor and delivery:
1. Make space for your baby
If you're having a vaginal delivery, your baby will need to squeeze out of a hole about 10 cm in diameter. Perineal massages can help widen your birth canal and reduce perineal tearing (the area between the lower part of the vagina and anus). Your partner can also help.
Start by getting into a comfortable position. You may want to use a mirror if you're doing this yourself. Apply oil (try organic olive or coconut) or organic lubricant onto your fingers, thumb and perineal. Use firm pressure but always be gentle – it is normal to feel a slight tingling sensation but you should not feel a burning sensation or pain.
Perineal massages can be done daily, repeating the stretches a few times a week. Some experts suggest waiting until you are 34 weeks to start. Always consult with your healthcare provider before your try.
2. Tone your uterus and thin your cervix
Starting in the third trimester, drink three cups of organic red raspberry leaf tea each day, hot or cold. You can drink it during labor and delivery as well.
As Dr. Beverly Huang, ND explains that "drinking red raspberry leaf tea has been known to help to tone your uterus and prevent miscarriage as well as postpartum hemorrhaging (due to a relaxed or atonic uterus). It has also been known to help in the pain of delivery and enrich breastmilk."
Starting at week 36, take evening primrose oil (500 mg capsules):
- from weeks 36 to 38, one capsule three times a day
- from weeks 38 to 40, two capsules three times a day, and
- beginning at week 39, apply it topically to the cervix by making a hole in the capsule and inserting it internally.
According to Dr. Beverly, "evening primrose oil has been known to help ripen (or thin) the cervix and promote effacement, the process by which the cervix prepares for delivery. As you get closer to delivery, your baby will gradually drop lower to the cervix, and the cervix will gradually become thinner, softer and shorter."
3. Optimize nutrition
According to Dr. Pamela Smith, ND, "providing your body with nutrient dense foods is important for so many aspects of pregnancy including providing your body with the ability to heal quicker".
Choose foods rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C. Consider daily servings of colourful vegetables, berries, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale, cabbage, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, etc.). Protein is also very important for tissue healing, ensure getting the correct amount of protein each day.
Increase your energy during pregnancy with naturally occurring fats and nutrient dense sources of carbohydrates such as coconut oil, olive oil, nuts, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, butternut squashes and the like. Refer to this chart for healthy substitutes for food cravings and a list of correlating nutrient deficiencies. For more about curbing your pregnancy cravings read this post.
4. Work in the mental and physical strength you need to make it through
It can take a few days to go through all of the stages of labor and delivery. Physical endurance and mental resilience can play an important role.
As discussed by Dr. Pamela Smith, ND in this post, there are a number of benefits to exercising during pregnancy. I did gentle exercise regularly when pregnant because it made me feel good. Some believe that being in good shape helps with a quicker and easier delivery :)
5. Know how to help manage your pain
My first baby was born early, before I was able to pick up my homeopathic kit so I didn't take have anything for pain management. The second time around, toward the end of my second pregnancy, I was experiencing a significant amount of lower back and hip discomfort so I tried Actea Compose (also known as Actea Racemosa/Ez-Birth) homeopathic in the third trimester for pain management:
- from weeks 36 to week 38, one pellet three times a day
- from weeks 38 to week 40, three pellets three times a day, and
- during labour, as needed.
This facilitated a more manageable labor and delivery, especially since my second baby was not in an ideal birthing position. Note that Actea Compose has been known to induce labour if take in large doses.
Read this post to find out how to have a natural childbirth.
All of my preparation was done under the advisement of my qualified healthcare providers. Like all information on www.calmmother.com, this post is intended to provide information and is not intended to provide medical or any other type of advice. Please consult with your qualified healthcare provider directly regarding a birthing strategy that is right for you.