As soon as any mother sees those two pink lines on a pregnancy test, she starts dreaming of all things baby. Often times the first thought is how to tell the partner, friends and other family members. And soon after; baby names, baby gender, nurseries, maternity photos, registries, and oh gosh, labor and delivery! As with many aspects of parenthood in general, there’s not really one way in particular that anyone can prepare themselves for what’s to come.
One way that any mother can help prepare and put their mind at ease is by learning more about the labor process. “Many women feel anxiety or fear about childbirth because they have never experienced it before. Learning about the actual birthing process, what happens to [a woman's] body and baby can help to take away or lessen fear. [Moms] should learn as much as [they] feel comfortable with knowing. For example, one mom might learn best from reading a book. Another mom might be more comfortable with seeing a video. Check out the library, used bookstore, or a friend to find a book.” suggests MomTricks.com and this is a great idea.
Aside from educating themselves on the entire labor and delivery process, there are other things that any expectant mothers can do, or shouldn't do, that will be a determining factor in how labor will go. Below is a list of twenty different things that moms might do during pregnancy that will determine how labor will go.
20 Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea
Many women praise the effects of drinking raspberry leaf tea throughout the pregnancy, and especially during the last trimester. “Many women claim that red raspberry leaf tea helps shorten labor. The main compound found in red raspberry leaves is known to help tone and tighten muscles in the pelvic area, including the walls of your uterus, which can help make delivery easier,” states Healthline.com.
Though some women swear by this trick, others have found it ineffective. It certainly can’t hurt anything though, so I say it is definitely worth a shot. If anything relaxing with a cup of tea at night is a great way unwind.
“In a study, more than 65 percent of women who regularly ran or did aerobics during the second half of pregnancy were in active labor for less than four hours,” shares Aaptiv.com. Many women use the practice of regular exercise in hopes it will prepare them, both mentally and physically, for the labor woes ahead of them.
A lot of studies have been done, similar to the aforementioned, that suggest that regular fitness really does help the expectant mother prepare for delivery. It’s best to have a great fitness routine down prior to pregnancy, as many doctors recommend not starting anything new once you become pregnant. You should, of course, discuss any exercise plans with your own doctor, as everybody is different!
18 Skipping The Workouts
Just like exercising can help aid in labor and delivery, not exercising can have the opposite effect. As stated prior, many studies have found a correlation between a routine exercise routine and a shorter labor. Exercising during pregnancy doesn’t have to be difficult. Even getting outside for a daily walk or hike can make a big difference.
“The intensity of a workout depends on your level of physical fitness before becoming pregnant, according to experts. Women who are very active before pregnancy can maintain the same intensity of workouts with their healthcare professional’s approval, says the ACOG,” shares ABCNews.go.com.
17 Pelvic Exercises
Jogging, walking, lifting weights, and...pelvic exercises? As it turns out, there are exercises for target areas that mom to be’s can practice in order to help them through labor. UTSWMed.org suggests the Child’s Pose as one such exercise. This yoga pose helps lengthen pelvic floor muscles and ease discomfort. Kneel down and sit on your heels. Then lean forward slowly and walk your arms out long in front of you. Breathe deeply.
You also can rest your elbows on the ground in front of you with your hands supporting your head. As your belly grows, you may need to spread your knees farther apart to create space. If it’s uncomfortable to sit your backside on your heels, you can sit up higher…” writes UTSWMed.org. Google provides many other options for these types of exercises.
16 Use Essential Oils
Essential oils are more trendy than ever, and it’s no wonder why. These amazing oils have been working wonders for many people for a variety of health concerns and general everyday living purposes. Many women use oils to help progress their labor, and to help stay calm, relaxed and focused. Again, it’s best practice to discuss this with your healthcare providers before giving it a try.
“For births, my favorite way to use lavender is in a diffuser. Depending on mom’s needs and the size of the space we are in I might put 2-5 drops of the essential oil in the diffuser. While I have the lavender out I often notice nurses, midwives and OBGYN’s walk through the hospital room door, breathe deep and comment on how great the room smells. I really think lavender calms the entire birth team,” states MotherRisingBirth.com.
15 Visit The Chiropractor
The Chiropractor was my best friend during the last trimester of my pregnancy! And though I can’t say it helped me in the labor and delivery department, it sure did make me more comfortable those last few weeks.
“A recent study demonstrated that women who receive chiropractic adjustments throughout pregnancy report faster, easier deliveries. First-time mothers under chiropractic care reported a 24% shorter labor time (8-9 hour average) than those not seeing a chiropractor (14 hours). Second-time moms experienced a 39% shorter labor time on average,” shares AvalonWellnessCenter.com. Again, I can’t say this method worked for me, but everyone is different and I will say it’s totally worth it for the comfort factor.
14 Prenatal Massages
Treat yourself, Mama! Prenatal massage is another thing mothers do that will help determine how labor will go.
“Studies indicate that massage therapy performed during pregnancy can reduce anxiety, decrease symptoms of depression, relieve muscle aches and joint pains, and improve labor outcomes and newborn health,” states AmericanPregnancy.org.
AmericanPregnancy.org also advises finding a massage therapist that is certified in prenatal massage. If you can find room in your budget, this is definitely a great way to spoil yourself during pregnancy. Whether you visit a masseuse once or visit monthly, you will be thankful you did. And if you’re lucky, it may even shorten your labor.
13 Take Birthing Classes
Remember what I said earlier about knowing what you’re in for before going into things? Taking birthing classes is a great way to make yourself aware of what you will experience when you deliver your baby. And this will ensure you’re on the right path for a smooth delivery.
“Doing a good job is always easier with the right tools and skills. Taking a childbirth class can help you to learn about positions that promote well-positioned babies, comfort and coping techniques that help reduce the pain of labor and birth and provide lots of hands on practice so you can try out the different things that might find useful during your labor. Your partner can learn about their role and build a toolbox of things that they can suggest to you and help you with during the big event,” writes CalmConfidentDoula.com.
12 Use Water Therapy
What in the world is water therapy and how can it determine how labor will go? Water Therapy is really just a water birth or use of soaking a hot tub prior to delivery to help ease labor pains.
“Labouring in water has been shown to lower blood pressure by relaxing the mother to be and reducing her stress. Taking a warm bath or shower at home can be comforting and very relaxing in early labor. As labor progresses the birthing tub found in birthing centres and many hospitals with birthing rooms have been shown to reduce pain and help the baby get in a better position for birth,” writes one user on ShareCare.com.
11 Try Hypnotherapy
Probably the most interesting tactic featured on this list is hypnotherapy for labor and delivery. “Hypnosis advocates give several explanations of how the process works. One theory holds that when a woman feels fear during childbirth, her body releases stress hormones that trigger the body's 'fight or flight' response. This causes muscles to tighten and interferes with the birthing process. By training the subconscious mind to expect a safe, gentle birth, they say, women can avoid going into the fight-or-flight state, allowing for a smoother birth,” shares BabyCenter.com.
Some women have had success with this method and if you want to give it a try, again, your first step should be talking to your healthcare provider.
10 Hire A Doula
Doula’s are becoming more and more commonplace these days, and they can indeed help impact your labor outcome.”During delivery, doulas are in constant and close proximity to the mother. They have the ability to provide comfort with pain-relief techniques including breathing techniques, relaxation techniques, massage, and labouring positions. Doulas also encourage participation from the partner and offer reassurance. A doula acts as an advocate for the mother, encouraging and helping her fulfill specific desires she might have for her birth,” writes AmericanPregnancy.org.
If hiring a Doula is something you are interested in, talk to your main healthcare provider about whether or not they can point you in the right direction.
9 Breathing Practice
“The more you learn about labor and birth, the more you will see how different patterns of breathing are used at different stages. You will learn about using breathing to focus on making each contraction a productive part of the birthing process. Whether pregnant or not, patterned breathing is helpful in coping with various types of pain, discomfort, anxiety and fear,” write AmericanPregnancy.org.
Learning breathing techniques early on in pregnancy is a great way to put them to work for you! Practice your breathing techniques throughout your pregnancy to ease anxieties. By the time you have to put those techniques to actual work, you will be a professional!
My favorite option on this list that can help influence your labor is this one, rest! “The amount of sleep you get while you’re pregnant not only affects you and your baby but could impact your labor and delivery, as well. Lack of sleep during pregnancy has been tied to a number of complications…” writes FamilyDoctor.org.
Pregnancy is a great time to get your sleep in, especially if this is your first child. And if it positively affects your labor outcome, you really can’t go wrong! You will miss the sleep once you have a newborn, so get the rest while you can.
7 Hydrate Up!
Hydration is crucial in every stage of pregnancy, but it becomes even more important towards the end of pregnancy. “ Staying hydrated is vitally important at the end of pregnancy. You could go into labor at any time, and if you're fully hydrated when labor starts, you'll have far more energy and stamina than you will if you're dehydrated. Also if you're hydrated, you may be less likely to need intravenous fluids,” writes Parents.com.
Buy yourself a cute water bottle and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Etsy has very cute water bottles that are personalized for all things mom life, so check it out.
6 A Smart Birthing Plan
Once those early contractions start coming on it’s so hard to sit it out at home instead of rushing off to the hospital where you know you will be in good care. But staying home as long as possible may actually keep you more relaxed and make for an easier labor.
“According to the hormonal blueprint of labor, if a woman heads to the hospital as soon as signs of labor begin, in early or even sometimes in active labor, things might fizzle out. Her contractions will stop and she’ll be sent home, frustrated and exhausted. However, if a woman experiences long, hard contractions that are close together before going to the hospital, odds are that the act of leaving home, getting into the car and showing up at the hospital won’t affect her labor or disrupt the release of oxytocin,” shares MotherRisingBirth.com.
5 Eat Dates
This one took me surprise, but some people use dates to help progress their labor along. “In mom terms, that means that the 0-10 cm stage of labor was significantly shorter in woman who consumed dates compared to those who didn’t. In fact, those who consumed dates had an average 8.5 hours of first stage labor (0-10 cm) while those who didn’t had an average 15.1 hours of first stage labor,” shares WellnessMama.com in regards to a study done on this topic. Want to give it a try? If you don’t like the taste of dates by themselves, try them in a smoothie.
4 Take Prenatal Yoga Classes
As discussed above, exercise is a great way to aide the labor process. Yoga in particular, is a wonderful way to get exercise in as a pregnant mama. “Much like other types of childbirth-preparation classes, prenatal yoga is a multifaceted approach to exercise that encourages stretching, mental centering and focused breathing,” writes MayoClinic.org.
The benefits listed on MayoClinic.org include improved sleep, reduced stress and anxiety, increased strength and flexibility, and decreased lower back pain, nausea, headaches and more! If you’re an outgoing person, you should look for a prenatal yoga class in your neighborhood. If you prefer to exercise from the comfort of your own home, there are plenty of YouTube videos out there to help show you the ropes.
3 Assemble A Great Support Team
Assembling a great support team to cheer you on through labor and delivery is one of the most important things you can do to influence your experience. Everyone is so different in personality types so your support team might look very different than someone else’s, but that’s how it should be! What works for one mama, will not work for another, so find what works best for you and be confident in your decision.
BellyBelly.com.au suggests making sure you choose only those who respect your decisions to join you in the delivery room. “If a potential support person is often going on about what they would do, what they did or what you should do, this is a recipe for disaster in the birth room. Not only should the birth room be quiet and respectful, but it should be free from people who add any stress or drama,” states BellyBelly.com.au.
2 Use Positive Affirmations
Don’t underestimate the power of positive affirmations. Find a few that work for you early on in your pregnancy and practice them routinely so they come in more easily to you when you really need them. “If you find that you have fears and concerns about birthing and parenting, using affirmations can help to dispel these. Even if you are feeling wonderful and positive, affirmations can only add to what you already intuitively know and feel. The aim is for them to be absorbed into your consciousness so your brain believes the statements and then reflects this reality,” writes SandraLondino.com.
Turn towards Google or Pinterest to look for some good ones. Then write them down in convenient places so you have reminders of your affirmations in places you will see them frequently.
1 Use Supplements
Another tactic for staying on top of the best labor plan possible? Prenatals are not the only supplements many expectant mothers turn towards. I know I keep saying this, but bear with me, it is best to discuss any possible changes in your regimen with your healthcare team! MamaNatural.com recommends both progesterone supplements and magnesium.
Progesterone mixed with coconut oil is supposed to help combat labor pains. Magnesium oil spray is another method of pain relief.MamaNatural.com also recommends honey sticks as a mid-labor treat...who would have thought? “Think Pixie Sticks for crunchy mamas. These are a great form of natural sugar that’s super convenient to suck down mid-labor,” writes MamaNatural.com.References: www.momtricks.com, www.healthline.com, www.aaptiv.com, www.abcnews.go.com, www.utswmed.org, www.motherrisingbirth.com,