Congrats on the baby, mama! Being a mom is literally the best thing ever. Along with the stroller, car seat, crib, and adorable baby clothes comes the also necessary reality of preparing for labor-mentally and physically.
While everyone knows they will physically have to give birth, for some it can be daunting for how to prepare! I know it was for me! Before I had my first baby, I always wondered if and how I should be preparing for labor. Since then, I’ve come to know the importance of preparing for labor and how much it helped me to prepare properly. So, this is everything I do to prepare for labor: mentally and physically.
While a lot of the physical preparation has nothing to do with our bodies such as purchasing baby items and getting the house clean etc, this post is specifically for YOU. I hope that by the end of this post you will feel empowered by what your body can accomplish, you will feel at peace and ready for labor, and you will have some tools to refer to throughout your pregnancy to aid this process of preparation.
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RELATED: Healthy Pregnancy Breakfast Smoothie
Should I be Preparing for Labor?
In short, yes. I truly believe (and statistics help with this too) preparing for labor body, mind, and soul can be VERY rewarding. Not only are you physically prepared and ready but, you are educated and at peace. You approach birth with a “yes, I can” attitude rather than, “I don’t know if I can do this.”
In order to get to this point, different types of preparation get you “ready” for your BIG day. In my honest opinion, you can’t prepare just your body or just your mind because your birth experience is not just one or the other. Giving birth is a miraculous and powerful experience we never forget so, let’s make it one of the best days of our lives by preparing for labor the best way possible! I promise if you prepare for labor, your labor will be better than if you hadn’t.
If you want further reading on the more practical things to do before baby comes, you can read more here: Ultimate To-Do List Before Baby Comes
How do I begin Preparing for Labor?
Ok, so now that you’re ready to begin, I really wanted to break down how I personally prepare for labor per trimester. This is because some things take more time than others. The great part about preparing for labor is that you can (and should) tailor it to your specific wants and needs.
As I said, this is what I do and I find it incredibly helpful but remember this is your pregnancy and your birth so you have to make it what you want because it is so special!
RELATED: 10 Secrets to a Natural Birth
Also, this should go without saying but I feel like I should make myself really clear- all of this does not replace any medical advice given to you by your doctor and should not be taken as medical advice. In addition, these ways to prepare for labor should go hand in hand with excellent prenatal care starting as soon as you know you are pregnant!
First Trimester-Preparing for Labor
Beginning to prepare your body for labor already in the first trimester may seem like overkill. But, to me, we should be preparing our bodies for labor our whole baby-having years. Why? Mostly, this is just plain healthy. Keeping your body healthy so you can nourish and provide for another human is best on mama and baby.
1. Establish an Exercise Routine-
This is SO hard in the first trimester for me. Along with nausea and extreme (EXTREME) fatigue, any exercise is literally the last thing on my mind. However, studies show (and women testify) that even a basic exercise routine can benefit you tremendously in regards to boosting your energy! It also can actually decrease nausea and keep you strong and healthy as you build a baby!
2. Drink Lots of Water-
Yes, I know everyone says this-but seriously. Staying hydrated keeps you and baby healthy and helps lessen nausea. Plus, staying far from dehydration keeps you far from multiple doctor visits for fluids and monitoring.
I suggest getting a large drinking water bottle with a straw (straws help people drink more) and filling it up often! Whenever I kept my water bottle close by I was shocked by how much MORE water I drank than on the days I didn’t have it. This Contigo Water Bottle is one I really like and it doesn’t break the bank if you are searching for a good one.
3. Get on a Good Prenatal Vitamin-
You know how oranges are like the best fruit EVER if they are PERFECTLY ripe? And how you can’t even eat them if they aren’t perfect? That’s how I see any vitamin. This vitamin c and that vitamin c aren’t the same, this orange and that orange aren’t the same and this prenatal and that prenatal aren’t the same (this may be a horrible analogy but it worked in my brain 🙂 ) Do your research, ask your physician, and take it daily! This is the prenatal vitamin I take and recommend.
So many women need permission to take a break. I don’t blame you, we are hard workers and take amazing care of our families and at the end of the day, we wonder when we were supposed to just lay down and take a nap. Really though, rest is super important in the first trimester. My advice to you- really listen to your body and not your mind on this one. Rest when you are tired, find some time and ignore the “but you have dishes piling up” little voice we have playing constantly in our head.
5. Consider a Doula-
Doulas are basically labor coaches. They are amazing. They understand the birthing process like no other and their sole purpose is to help you get through labor. This may be something you should look into and see if its right for you!
Get Your Free Doula Interview Questions Download HERE!
Mind and Soul.
Preparing our minds for labor is just as important as our bodies. During the first trimester, preparing for labor and delivery can seem unnecessary since it is “so far away” but really, preparation can and should begin now! These are what I encourage everyone to do to help prepare their mind for labor in the first trimester.
1. Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth-
No matter what kind of delivery you are hoping to have, this book is so uplifting and informative of exactly what happens in childbirth, what signs we have that tell us what our body is doing and empowers you to have peace knowing your body was made to do this.
Women birthing is NOT a new thing…*obvs* but to some of us, we may feel frightened or feel incapable like our body is “broken” or “won’t know what to do”. This book dispels those fears with hard facts and true knowledge, preparing you for labor- exactly how you were made to.
2. Read Hypnobirthing- The Mongan Method–
Yes, I know another book. This is the last one I promise 😉 If you only read one book during your pregnancy-let this be it. This book not only explores how the body gives birth so we understand exactly what will happen in labor, but it also explains deep methods of relaxation and pain management that our bodies respond to naturally. I love this book- it truly gave me a renewed understanding of my body and how I was built to do this!
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3. Begin to Ponder what you want YOUR birth to Be-
Flexibility in birth is crucial. I am not a huge fan of entering labor knowing exactly what you want and then not being able to be flexible if something has to change. Because some things are just out of our control. However, the more we prepare and set ourselves up for the birth we want, the more likely it will happen- By. Far.
1. Set up your Baby Registry–
I don’t love the notion that babies are so expensive because they are truly priceless. However, you definitely have to make purchases you otherwise wouldn’t before baby decides to come. It’s practical to start your registry early, gives family and friends more time to budget and it’s also fun to pick out your baby’s things.
I use Amazon for my Baby Registry. It has literally everything I need for baby all in ONE place, I can get it to my door in two days with Prime, and I get 15% OFF my own registry items!! You can start yours here!
Second Trimester- Preparing for Labor
Preparing your body during the second trimester is the BEST time in my humble opinion. Why? Because you feel the BEST. Most women experience more energy, better moods, and overall health during their second trimester.
What should you change during the second trimester? Not much.
1. Add Squats to your Exercise Routine-
Many women swear by squats helping the baby descend and encouraging labor later on. Adding squats to your workout regime now will only encourage baby to position him/herself the right way early on. Also, they are excellent exercise, open our pelvis further and strengthen muscles we will need for labor.
My challenge to you, pick a certain number of squats and do them daily (I heard there is a 300 squats/day challenge to help women get ready for birth-wow- you go girlzzz)!
2. Keep that Water Bottle Close by-
Just keep drinking, just keep drinking, just keep drinking, drinking, drinking (Dory from Finding Nemo reference if you didn’t catch it 😉 )
3. Eat a Healthy Well-balanced Diet-
Duh… Everyone says that for even non-prego mamas but eating healthy during pregnancy not only keeps you energized and feeling well, it also keeps baby super healthy as they start to feed more and more off of our diet. In addition, a balanced diet can also save us from nasty prego symptoms like constipation, hemorrhoids, heartburn, and fatigue! So, eat veggies at every meal, watch your fruit intake (the secret sugar monsters), and eat healthy proteins!
4. Keep up the Good Prenatal Care-
Daily prenatal vitamin, frequent prenatal care, and rest whenever you can!
RELATED: Healthy Pregnancy Breakfast Smoothie
Mind and Soul.
During the second trimester, start to ponder becoming a mom. As if you haven’t already done this, bonding with our babies is SO important. I really try to focus on what mom I want to be for my baby, what important values I hope to emulate in our home and how I will raise strong, kind, driven human beings- deep, I know 😉
1. Keep Reading your Books-
2. Look into Labor and Birthing Classes-
Sometimes these classes aren’t offered very often or fill up fast! Look around and sign up for any that interest you during this time. I really encourage hypnobirthing if you can find a class near you. Also, make sure to bring hubby to these- its super bonding and my husband and I loved turning Lamaze into date night!
Third Trimester- Preparing for Labor
This is it. The downhill stretch. Your little one will be coming soon.
1. Continue Exercising-
You may need to change up your exercises for the third trimester due to a growing belly, but keep it up- none the less! Exercising and squats during your third will keep you healthy and help your body to be ready for labor. Plus, those squats are going to keep helping baby get into the right position and keep descending as labor approaches!
2. Consider an Exercise/Birthing Ball-
If you don’t have an exercise/birthing ball, consider getting one. I love implementing them into my routine during the third trimester. It helps keep my core strong, encourages me to sit in a position that encourages baby to descend and is great for many different exercises! This one would do perfectly (you even get to pick your favorite color)!
Wondering how to use a birthing ball? Watch HERE!
3. Drink LOTS of Water-
Drinking lots of water later in pregnancy continues to keep you and the baby healthy. It also really helps to decrease your chances for getting a urinary tract infection- which are no fun at all.
4. Cut out Sugar-
You may be surprised how much sugar creeps into even a “healthy” diet. Try to eat as natural as possible while decreasing sugar (even excess fruit). This will be healthier for you and baby, help you both to have healthy birth weight, and decrease your chances of having excess fluid retention!
5. Naturally Induce (Encourage) Labor-
As you become “full-term” towards the very end, there are several ways you can try to naturally “induce” labor. I put induce in quotations because I truly believe labor will come when your body says its ready- not if you eat spicy food. However, there is a power behind these natural solutions that may encourage your body to say its ready sooner rather than later!
Mind and Soul.
Your third trimester is here-now all you have to do is focus on is relaxing and getting excited to meet your baby!
1. Practice what you’ve Learned-
From all your own research and my suggested books, start to practice for labor. Practice the hypnobirthing techniques, find free music and free birthing affirmations to listen to, and encourage yourself to relax every night.
2. Positive Self-talk-
This may seem nonsensical, overrated or simply stupid- buuut, it’s not. You tell yourself you can deliver this baby and you will.
3. Write Down your Birth Plan-
Lots of people have birth plans. I more like to think of them as birth preferences because like I said, “planning” your birth can sometimes give the wrong impression- like we have control over everything. That being said, I think its super important to communicate your wishes for how you want to labor, how you want your partner to be involved, and how you want your baby to come into this world.
Since your baby is right around the corner, there are some things we practically have to do to prepare our lives for a little one.
1. Finish your Registry–
Purchase anything left on the registry that you will need before baby comes!
2. Pack Your Hospital Bag-
Do this between 35-37 weeks. You can never be too prepared! Babies like to come when everyone least suspects them! This is where you can find what I pack: What’s in my Hospital Bag
3. Get your Household Ready for Baby-
This may seem vague! Since this post is mostly focused on actually labor preparation you can see my practical guide for what to do before baby comes here: Ultimate To-Do List Before Baby Comes
RELATED: What’s in my Hospital Bag
Preparing for Labor-It will be Worth it
Preparing for labor throughout my pregnancy was the biggest blessing. I can’t wait to hear your birth story. What are you going to do to begin preparing for labor? No matter how far along you are or what kind of birth you hope to have, I hope this is something that helps young mamas just like YOU and me!