As new parents, we spend so much time preparing for baby by purchasing the newest and greatest baby item, the cutest crib sheets and curtains for the nursery, the best bottle system or breast pump, and so much more. This is all great and certainly makes the pregnancy journey enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling, but it does not always translate into preparing your mind and body for the last few weeks of pregnancy, your birth, and your postpartum. As much as we prepare for baby, we need to prepare for birth. It is a grand workout, an absolutely life changing experience, and one that is necessary to prepare for. You would not hike Mt. Everest without mentally, emotionally, and physically training/preparing, so why would you go into your birth without preparing?
I am so excited to talk with you about a some things that I think are important for preparation, as a doula who regularly sees clients in and outside of the home, and as a mom who has had three births of my own.
Here is a list of 10 things you can do to prepare your mind and body for the birth of your baby. You can do one or all of these things, but my hope is that in doing at least one, you will be further ready your mind, body, and soul.
1. Receive Chiropractic Care - Webster Certified Practice or Provider
From the moment of conception, your body goes through a series of changes. Back, pelvic and postural changes can cause unwanted pain, discomfort, sciatica, and so much more. The good news is chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment for most people. Toward the end of your pregnancy, slight adjustments from a Webster Certified chiropractor will provide more room for baby, help baby get into better positions, help your pelvis stay aligned, and can even help in turning a breech baby! Pictured above are Drs. Cepeda and Landrus of Growing Tree Chiropractic in Mooresville, NC. Dr. Landrus regularly adjusted Dr. Cepeda throughout her pregnancy and she ended up having a wonderful birthing experience. While results are not guaranteed, all my clients note that they feel healthier, stronger, and more ready for baby after an adjustment.
2. Take a Childbirth Education Class
Childbirth education is a must. There are so many different classes, one to fit every single family out there. These classes go into great detail about almost everything there is to know about birth, different procedures, informed consent, how to relax, and so many other important topics. I really want you to know that knowledge is power and the more you know, the less you will fear. I highly recommend taking Hypnobirthing with Rebecca at Mindful Family Wellness in Mooresville, NC. Due to COVID-19, her classes are all virtual, so no matter where you're located, check her out! There are also Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobabies, hospital classes, and so many more! I will also begin teaching a weekend workshop through GentleBirth as a certified GentleBirth Educator in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!
3. Write A Letter to Baby
This can seem weird the first time you hear of the concept, but it is a GREAT way to bond and connect with your baby in those final weeks. Write down your worries, your fears, and then write down your wishes and dreams for yourself and baby. Write down the way you think your baby will look and the list of names you came up with. Write down what comes to mind or draw pictures of anything you are thinking about in the moment. This letter will make a great keepsake and memorialize the time you were pregnant. I still have my letters to my kids and look forward to the day I give each one, their own letter. You can add pictures, talk about what you are feeling in those final weeks, really anything. The options are endless, and this project is a great way to bring this chapter to a close in anticipation for the beginning of the next chapter; the birth of your baby!
4. Go On A Date
In a very short time, you will have a new baby, and with that, not a lot of alone time. Take these last few weeks and go on dates! It doesn't matter what you do, just enjoy the time. Some people opt for picnics, others want a nice dinner, some even take weekend vacations called babymoons. Whatever works best for you and your schedule, do it! You will feel closer, more relaxed, and prepared for the sleepless nights. It's so important to be in sync with your partner and this is a great way to make that happen.
5. Purchase and Use An Exercise Ball, Daily
This is something I recommend to each and every one of my pregnant clients and will continue to do so, well... forever. This will help your body and your baby adjust to and get into position for birth. It helps you rotate your hips and keeps your pelvis tilted. In pregnancy, sit on the ball and keep your knees below your hips, rocking in a figure 8. I recommend using this in place of a chair at both the kitchen table and at any desks you may work at. We want to avoid baby slipping into an OP (Occiput Posterior) position and encourage them to stay OA (Occiput Anterior). When in labor, it is a GREAT way to encourage baby to descend and puts great pressure on the cervix for dilation.
6. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
According to MamaNatural.com, raspberry leave tea is best known as “the woman’s herb.” Red raspberry leaf tea contains the alkaloid fragrine, which can help strengthen the uterus as well as the pelvic area. The uterus needs a lot of vitamins and minerals to function properly and red raspberry leaf tea has almost all of them. Red raspberry leaf is rich in vitamins and minerals, containing vitamins C, E, and A, a variety of B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. It also contains essential trace minerals such as zinc, iron, chromium and manganese. These vitamins and minerals are in a readily absorbable form, making Red Raspberry Leaf tea a wonderful way to supplement a balanced diet during preconception, pregnancy, and beyond. Studies have shown that red raspberry leaf tea can help to make labor faster and reduce complications and interventions during birth. One study found that women who consumed RRL tea regularly are less likely to go overdue or give birth prematurely. These women may also be less likely to receive an artificial rupture of their membranes or require a cesarean section, forceps, or vacuum birth than the women in the control group. Red raspberry leaf has many other benefits to pregnancy, birth, and postpartum too. Read more, here. This is a great tea to purchase.
7. Prepare Meals Ahead of Time
This is a great option if you know you will not have a lot of time after baby is born, to cook. It is also a great idea if you do not have family nearby to help out. Preparing meals ahead of time and freezing, is a great and easy way to eat nutritiously with little time available. Here is a good site with some ideas: Freezer Meals.
8. Get Into The Right Mindset
This is open to your interpretation. Meditate, dance in your underwear around the house, turn on some music, yoga, etc. Whatever you need to do, to clear your mind and get into the right mindset for birth. Finish the tasks you need to finish, plan for where your pets will go, pack your birth bags, etc. Once your to-do list is done, it is time to turn your attention onto your upcoming birth. Get into the right mindset and you will find it is easier to relax and enjoy those last days. There is a FANTASTIC blog I send to all my clients in their last days. I suggest you read it more than once or anytime you start to feel antsy. You can find it, here.
9. Practice Spinning Babies
The ENTIRE Spinning Babies website is gold to the pregnant person. There are exercises to do for almost any situation that may arise. One I recommend to my clients in their last weeks of pregnancy is called The Three Sisters of Balance. You can find it, here. These techniques balance the pelvis and surrounding areas for comfort, birth preparation, and labor progress and I've seen them work tremendously.
10. Have A Postpartum Plan In Place
I find this to be the MOST important and least talked about. Please have a postpartum plan in place BEFORE you are in your postpartum. Will your parents be coming to help? In-laws? One person at a time over the course of a few weeks? Where will you keep all your pads and peri bottles? Will someone be there to help with household tasks? Is your partner going back to work right away or taking some time off? Will you consider hiring a postpartum doula? If you breastfeed, do you have some names of lactation consultants? There is so much more to consider and having a plan in place will make your recovery easier and postpartum anxiety/depression/baby blues in check. Furthermore, when you have that support, they will be able to notice if you are sinking into a place of depression and will be able to seek help or other resources for you. Postpartum planning is just as important as birth planning, so please take the time to plan this.
That's it. That's my list. I'd LOVE to know what else you feel is most important for preparing your mind and body for birth. What helped you? What didn't? Please reach out with any questions or concerns! I'd love to hear from you!
Peace, love, and babies,
Staci, your doula <3