Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tips for Achieving an Unmedicated Birth: Preparing Your Body (Part 2)

I can't emphasize enough how important confidence, education, and the ability to relax your body and mind are to achieving a natural birth. If you missed it, check out the first segment in this series, Preparing Your Mind. Your body is designed to give birth, so you can do it without being in great physical shape. There are a few things you can do, though, that can help you prepare for the process. 

Eat dates daily during the last month of your pregnancy .
A study published in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (read more about it here) found that women who ate dates daily during their last month of pregnancy were less likely to need medication to start labor, were more dilated upon arriving at the hospital, and labored seven hours less on average! There's a compound in dates that mimics the effect of oxytocin, one of the key hormones involved in labor (pitocin is the artificial version of it.) I ate six or seven dates every night starting at 36 weeks and my labor and delivery were quick! There are so many variables that go into this type of thing, but research backs it up, and it can only help!

Do these exercises daily.
There are a number of different stretches/exercises that can help prepare your body for birth. I did these regularly (except for squatting due to the activity restrictions I had).
  • Tailor sitting-Sit with your back against a wall in a butterfly stretch and gently push your knees to the floor for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 5-10 times. This stretch improves blood flow to the lower body and stretches the pelvic joints, which can make baby's descent easier.
  • Squatting-Squatting is an awesome position to use during labor because it can create extra room in the pelvis, allowing the baby to descend more easily. It can be tiring though, so the purpose of doing squats during pregnancy is to build up your strength so that you can do them during labor. 
  • Pelvic tilts- You yogi's out there are probably familiar with this one (also known as cat-cow). Get on your hands and knees, keeping your head in line with your back. Slowly push your back upward, creating an arch, and hold for a few seconds. Then, relax your ab muscles and let your belly fall slowly towards the ground, creating an arch. Repeat a few times. This exercise helps with lower back pain and abdominal strength and is beneficial to preparing for labor because it may help a posterior ("sunny side up") baby move to the anterior position. An anterior-facing baby's head is going to put more pressure on the mother's cervix than a posterior-facing baby, which makes contractions more effective and labor and delivery quicker and easier.
Spend some time on a physio ball.
After I was released from strict bedrest at 36 weeks, I spent some time every day sitting on an exercise ball. Doing this opens up your hips and allows the baby to move down, putting pressure on your cervix and aiding dilation.

Follow along for part 3, Strategies for Labor and Delivery.

1 comment:

  1. Loving this! I did many of these exercises without realizing that they would be helpful, and I had an amazing labor and delivery... The biggest part that I was proud of is that no medication was involved and no pushing to help Cole descend. We felt strongly about letting him do it on his own. Thank you for the work you have put in to these posts!


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