You will never know how much advice people have to give until the day you get pregnant. Be prepared to receive a lot of commentary on how best to take of yourself after pregnancy. While this information is unlimited, the information about preparing your body for labor is not so accessible and available yet labor is one of the most important steps in pregnancy.
The common ideas that you will hear about labor is that it is painful and that it makes you regret why you got pregnant in the first place. While all these is partly true, there are things that you can do to prepare your body for labor and not just physical preparation but also mental and emotional preparation.
Some of the things you can do to prepare your body for labor include:
Yoga is one of those exercises that you can do even when you are in your eight month of pregnancy. Besides it being very relaxing, it is great way to prepare the muscles in your body that will be involved during labor. When you go to a prenatal yoga class, expect much more than doing yoga. There will be a whole discussion about labor and birth and how to prepare the body and mind. Yoga is a softening and strengthening exercise for different parts of the body which are important during labor.
In addition, yoga teaches you exciting breathing techniques that you can apply during labor to help your body prepare for birth.
- Perineal massage
Massages are great for the general population including those who are not pregnant. During pregnancy, perineal massages are much more important. Research has shown that these massages reduce the chances of tearing from a normal vaginal delivery. A perineal massage softens the tissue between the vagina and anus, known as the perineum. In addition, it releases any muscles that are holding tension in the area which in turn allows the soft tissue to stretch. This reduces the chance of tearing. You can perform a perineal massage on yourself with the help of some YouTube videos.
- Pelvic floor checkup
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor is put under serious pressure and additional stress. This stress varies in degree depending on the type of birth you have. The pelvic floor needs to function properly to avoid incontinence and prolapse. Fortunately, women physiotherapists are experts at this and can guide you. With a women physiotherapist, you can have a pelvic floor assessment which assesses the ability of your pelvic floor to cope with pregnancy. Moreover, she will guide you on how to strengthen it for the future.
- Stay active whenever possible
When your body permits it, stay active. Activity is not recommended for certain situations such as a situation when your pelvic is unstable. However, if your body is in good condition, it is important to stay active throughout the pregnancy. It will help to prepare your body for labor. The safest exercises for pregnancy are swimming and walking. Swimming has an additional benefit in that it allows your tummy to hang forwards and assists you with optimal positioning of your baby.
- Use full body strength training
Pregnancy and childbirth are physically demanding. It is good to be well-equipped with full body strength and function. You don’t have to do so much. Moderate strength training on two non-consecutive days of the week for only 20 minutes will be enough. If you are a newbie to strength training, start slowly and better yet under the guidance of a trained pre- or post-natal fitness specialist. You can use body weight or light resistance bands if you are not comfortable with free weights.
A strengthening exercise like the squat doesn’t even need equipment. Squatting is a very versatile and important exercise. It widens the pelvic outlet which helps to facilitate an easier and safer delivery of your baby. In addition, it strengthens and lengthens the muscles of the lower body which are the buttocks, hamstrings and quadriceps.
Working on your lower body does not mean neglecting your upper body. You must also have strength and function in your upper body as well especially since you will be holding your baby for long hours. Do exercises that strengthen your back.
- Use low-impact cardiovascular and interval training
There are different forms of cardiovascular exercises that are appropriate during pregnancy. Some good ones include low impact aerobic style intervals and others like walking, stationary biking and swimming. Remember not to overdo it and to set aside time to rest. Get as much rest as possible.
- Increase your flexibility
There are different exercises that help you increase your flexibility including yoga, foam rolling or static stretching. While doing so, focus on areas that experience common aches and pain during labor like the low, mid and upper back. Include both upper and lower body stretches. However, don’t overstretch yourself since the body will naturally stretch itself due to hormonal exchanges in pregnancy.
- Mindful meditation
It is undoubtedly true that pregnancy can be overwhelming. There is all these excitement, anxiety and change. It is good to set aside some time during the day to connect with your body and baby through mindful meditation. Start small by practicing your breathing and then build from there. There are many apps that can help you with meditation.
- Don’t forget your mind
Hearing horror stories about labor just when you are about to give birth is not going to help you at all. It will make you feel unsettled and scared for nothing. For every bad story about labor, there is a positive story. This is what you need to remember. If this is your second pregnancy and you had a bad first experience, it can be difficult to keep a positive mind. But staying positive is very important. It encourages you despite the pain you may be feeling at that moment.
The experiences of others need not be your experience and your past experience need not define your current experience. Don’t feel helpless when it comes to labor. Do something to prepare your body for it.