Why you should prepare physically for labour and what to do to get your body ready.Jul 18, 2023
Preparing your body physically for labour can offer several benefits that may positively impact your birthing experience. Here are eight benefits of physical preparation for labour.
Increased strength and endurance
Physical preparation exercises, such as prenatal exercises and regular physical activity, can help build strength and endurance, which are essential for the physical demands of labour. Improved strength and stamina can make it easier to cope with contractions and sustain energy throughout the process.
Enhanced flexibility and range of motion
Engaging in exercises that promote flexibility, such as prenatal yoga or stretching routines, can improve your overall flexibility and range of motion. This increased flexibility can help you adopt various labour positions and facilitate better movement during labour and birth.
Better posture and alignment
Focusing on good posture and practicing exercises that promote proper alignment can help prepare your baby for optimal positioning during labour. Maintaining good posture can assist in effective contractions and reduce discomfort during labour.
Increased pelvic floor strength.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles through exercises like Kegels or pelvic floor exercises can be beneficial for labour and postpartum recovery. Strong pelvic floor muscles can help support your baby's descent, potentially reduce the risk of tearing, and aid in postpartum healing.
Improved breathing and relaxation techniques
Practicing deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques during pregnancy can help you develop effective coping mechanisms for managing pain and anxiety during labour. These techniques can promote relaxation, decrease tension, and enhance your ability to stay focused during contractions.
Boosted confidence and mental well-being.
Physical preparation for labour can contribute to increased confidence in your body's ability to handle the birthing process. Feeling physically prepared and strong can positively impact your mental well-being, reduce anxiety, and enhance your overall birth experience.
Faster postpartum recovery
A well-prepared body can aid in a smoother and faster recovery after giving birth. The increased strength, flexibility, and endurance developed during pregnancy can help your body bounce back more quickly.
Increased likelihood of achieving desired birth outcomes
Physical preparation can empower you to actively participate in your birth experience and increase the likelihood of achieving your desired birth outcomes. By being physically prepared, you may have more options for labour positions, pain management techniques, and greater ability to navigate through the stages of labour.
How to prepare physically
Here are some ways you can prepare yourself to feel more confident and ready for your labour.
Engage in regular physical activity throughout your pregnancy, focusing on exercises that are safe and suitable for pregnant women. Prenatal yoga, swimming, walking, and gentle aerobics are good options. Consult your healthcare provider for specific exercise recommendations.
Pelvic floor exercises
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can help with labour and postpartum recovery. Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that control urination, are beneficial. You can find guidance on proper technique online or seek advice from a healthcare provider.
Consider attending prenatal classes or childbirth education classes. These classes often include information on labour, breathing techniques, pain management, and positions for labour and birth. They can provide valuable knowledge and help you feel more prepared.
Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or prenatal yoga. These techniques can help you manage stress and anxiety during labour and promote a more positive birthing experience.
Starting around 34 weeks of pregnancy, you can perform perineal massage to help stretch and prepare your perineal area (the area between the vagina and anus) for birth. Consult your healthcare provider for guidance on proper technique.
Healthy diet and hydration
Maintain a well-balanced diet rich in nutritious foods. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Proper nutrition and hydration support your overall health and provide the necessary energy for labour.
Rest and sleep
Make sure you get adequate rest and sleep during your pregnancy. Fatigue can make labor more challenging, so prioritize self-care and listen to your body's needs.
Discuss your birth plan
Talk to your healthcare provider about your birth preferences and create a birth plan. Discuss pain management options, interventions, and any specific concerns or wishes you may have.
Practice labour positions
Explore different labour positions and practice them with your birth companion. Positions like upright, hands-and-knees, and squatting can help facilitate labour progress and ease discomfort.
Read books, articles, or reliable online resources about labour and childbirth. Educate yourself on the stages of labour, pain management techniques, and possible variations or complications. Knowledge can help alleviate fears and build confidence.
Remember, each pregnancy and labour experience is unique. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific needs and medical history. They can provide additional recommendations tailored to your situation.