WHEN it comes to labour and birth, there is no shortage of information out there. But with highs and lows, great labours and horrific stories all up for consumption wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple guide to the best ways to prepare yourself for birth?
Of course, no matter how much you prepare, you can’t out-do nature and sometimes stuff just goes awry but I hope my guide, derived from experience and research can give you the best chance of your best birth:
1. BE AS FIT AS YOU CAN BE
You are preparing your body for the biggest sporting challenge of your life. If your labour is long and drawn out or swift and shocking, being as fit as you can possibly be will help you and your body to cope.
2. STAY HYDRATED
Before, during and after labour, keep drinking. It can be hard if you feel queasy so consider drinks you can stomach when you feel sick.
3. STAY NOURISHED
Food may be the last thing on your mind and many women find their digestive systems shut down during labour, so eat what you can, when you can and nibble on high calorie, easy to digest foods.
4. KNOW YOUR BODY
This may sound vague but those who train or exercise regularly tend to have a greater awareness of their body than those that don’t. Understanding your body may help you to be able to ask for the right support from your medical professional or birthing partner.
5. HELP BABY TO GET IN THE RIGHT POSITION FOR BIRTH
The easiest way a baby can exit through the birth canal is if it’s in the LOA (left occiput anterior) position. This means baby’s head is down, back is out and bottom to the left. Classes like Pilates or specialist active birthing classes can help with this.
6. PERINEAL MASSAGE
Self massage or with help from a partner, perineal massage can help soften the perineum and reduce your risk of tears.
7. PELVIS MOBILITY
As baby moves through the birth canal, his head moulds as your pelvis moves. If you don’t suffer from SPD (pelvis pain) gentle pelvis mobility taught in some Pilates classes or yoga can help prepare it for birth.
8. BREATHE – FIND YOUR RELAXATION ZONE
Your body will labour best when calm and relaxed. Learning relaxation techniques such as those taught in hypno-birthing can help prepare you to cope with stress or anxiety and ease your labouring.
9. TRAIN YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES LIKE AN OLYMPIAN
Your pelvic floor muscles will be vital for pushing out your baby. A strong, well conditioned pelvic floor can withstand stretching and help get baby out without medical intervention. PELVIC FLOOR
10. STAY ACTIVE DURING LABOUR
Research shows than an active labour is a quicker labour. So walk, squat, laugh or moan your way through it but stay positive and stay active.
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