How to Prepare Your Body For Labor

If you’re a woman and have given birth or plan to give birth one day, it’s likely the most strenuous, physically painful experience you will ever endure. Planning for an all-natural birth, I knew I wanted to do anything and everything I could to ease my pain and/or shorten the length of time I would be feeling it.

Here are some all-natural ways that mamas everywhere suggest to prepare your body for a less arduous labor. I would, of course, always recommend talking to your doctor or midwife to see what their recommendation is for you before trying any of these tips. 

Eat Dates Daily

If using this method, it is recommended to start consuming dates daily at 36 weeks. EvidenceBasedBirth.com states: “Randomized trials have found that eating date fruit in late pregnancy, around 60-80 grams a day of fruit, may increase cervical ripening, reduce the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation, and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss.”

I opted for Medjool dates, which are larger so require only about 3 a day. If you’re using the smaller Neel dates, you’ll have to consume more. If you choose to use this method, I recommend buying your dates in bulk, as they will be much more affordable and not go to waste. 

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red Raspberry Leaf has been used for a long time for its properties that are believed to help shorten the length of labor (or as the Britts call it, labour), reduce complications and interventions, and ripen your cervix. As stated on the What To Expect blog, “it’s thought to be a uterine tonic that boosts blood flow to the uterus and strengthens the uterine muscle fibers.

That, in turn, is believed to have the potential to get the birthing process started by triggering contractions.”

Although there isn’t a ton of research on how and why RRL products work, moms seem to swear by it! This study, though, did find that women who consumed RRL products were less likely to be overdue or go into preterm labor, require a cesarean delivery, the use of forceps, or vacuum birth. My preferred way to use RRL was to drink the tea daily, which I started at 36 weeks. 

Evening Primrose Oil

Primrose oil is universally used by pregnant women trying to induce their labor. It is reasonably priced and widely available. These capsules can be taken orally, or inserted vaginally. It is standard to begin taking EPO at 38 weeks. It is thought to soften and thin the cervix which can encourage it to dilate. Keep in mind, though, there are some controversial opinions regarding EPO for this use.

Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider about the pros and cons here, and whether it’s a safe option for you personally. 

Walk

Walking has been a fan favorite for a long time. For years, women have sworn by this method to induce labor. It is believed that the pressure of your baby’s head pressing down on the cervix stimulates the release of oxytocin. Being upright encourages the baby to move down into the pelvis as well. While incorporating walks in your daily routine at the end of your pregnancy is great exercise, it’s important to remember to do it in moderation and not to push yourself.

Sex

For some women, sex is the absolute last thing on their minds until they are desperately searching for a way to get that baby out! Sex can help induction in three ways: Orgasm helps stimulate the uterus, sex releases oxytocin, and semen contains prostaglandins which may help to ripen the cervix. Sex is safe as long as your water has not broken when the risk of infection is higher.

You shouldn’t use this method if you have a low-lying placenta or vaginal bleeding. If you have any concerns, talk to your healthcare provider before trying this method.

Yoga ball

Bouncing on a yoga ball is also a really popular option. It encourages your baby to move down. TheBirthBall.com states: “A 2015 study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research established that using a birthing ball during labor will significantly reduce pain during labor.

Birthing balls have ALSO been proven to help speed up dilation of the cervix, and aid in moving the baby down into the pelvis, in preparation for birth.” 

Yoga balls are easily accessible, you can usually pick them up at any Target or Wal-Mart, TJ Maxx, or even order them online. It’s comfortable and in my experience helps relieve pressure in the hips.

Nipple Stimulation

Nipple Stimulation is exactly what it sounds like, gentle rubbing and/or rolling of the nipple to encourage contractions to start. It can be performed by nearly anyone who the mother consents to. Typically, it is done by the mother’s partner, be it a romantic partner or birth partner, or herself. The theory here is that the stimulation releases oxytocin which causes contractions. 6/22 women used this method.

Other

In a poll that I did, these are other methods that women suggested from their own experience: Squats, chiropractics, acupuncture, castor oil, exercise, meditation, and foods such as pineapple, spicy foods, and black licorice. 

Whatever you do, be sure to do what you can to prepare for labor and birth. It will be the most physically challenging experience you will experience, and if you can make it any easier for yourself, it’ll be worth it!

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