Are you ready for labour
Nine months is a long time and by the time we get close to that 40-week mark, we are anxious to get that baby out.
We have read book after book after book. We have scoured the internet. We have chatted with our friends. We have dreamed about every possible scenario of how our baby will be born. What if the baby comes in the taxi? What if I have to have a cesarean? What is my partner cannot be there?
But what have we actually done to prepare our bodies for that incredible day?
Giving birth is comparable to running a marathon. Imagine prepping for a marathon by reading books about what to expect. Our muscles are not ready. Our minds have not practiced perseverance and endurance. Reading and researching is great, but it is a far cry from preparing our physical bodies for the intensity of labour.
Squatting is shown to help stretch the perineum and open the pelvis. Being able to squat comfortably and properly takes practice. Feet should be flat on the ground and open in a "V" shape. Lower yourself gently into the squat by bending at the knees. At first, you may want to hold on to something to keep your balance. When you stand up, lift your bottom first into the air and then roll up from the waist. While this is not the most flattering exercise (you can do this exercise in private if you prefer), it will strengthen your pelvic area and stretch the muscles in preparation for birth. Some people even prefer to spend much of their labour in this position.
Frequently know as "criss-cross apple sauce", sitting on the floor is a great position for pregnant woman. It opens up the hips, cradles the baby forward in the pelvis, and builds back muscles. Whenever possible, refuse the offered chair and choose a spot on the floor. If your back cannot handle the lack of a back rest, scoot back against your partner legs or a nearby couch. Just pay attention to make sure your uterus is resting forward. This will not only keep the baby off your backbone, it will gently stretch your hips, hopefully making you more comforable during pregancy and preparing your hips for labour.
Get up and move! Remember that marathon you are running at the of these 40 weeks? While many of us are not up for a regular cardiac workout in preparation for birth (but if you are and have the okay from your physician, go for it!), brisk walking can help strengthen our lungs, build our endurance, and keep us in basic good shape. Start with a goal of 10-15 minutes walk each day and slowly increase it to 2-3 brisk walks. Remember any exercise you do should not wear you out. If you feel overwhelmedingly exhausted after the walk, take it easier next time. You should feel energised and rejuvenated after your exercise, which is a nice effect during those months that we feel so heavy and all we want to do is sleep. Invite your partner along and dream together about the coming baby while you walk!
This is a great activity to do right before you go to sleep, as it will help get baby more comforable in your pelvis and therefore help you get a better nights sleep! On your hands and knees on the bed (make sure you have brushed teeth and completely prepared for sleep!), gently rock your hips upwards toward the ceiling then lower towards the ground. Do not over arch your back, but focus on gently tilting your hips up and down. Repeat ten times. This rocks the baby and uterus forward in the pelvis and out from between the legs, relieving back ache and also that heavy pressure between the legs! As with squatting, this is a great position for labour as well, especially for women who face intense back labour. Practicing it now not only makes you more comfortable while you wait, but is good preparation for labour itself. After you have completed your set of ten, gently roll to your side on the bed and find your best sleeping position. Make sure your hips are not stacked (one hip should be in front of the other) and place an extra pillow between your top knee.
Each of these activities can and should be done daily for several months leading up to your due date, or even throughout the whole pregnancy. Remember, you cannot prepare for a marathon in a week. As always, check with your doctor to make sure you do not have any complications. Remember the goal is to feel rested, energised and prepared, so keep any exercise you do at a pace you can manage.
Source: Ruth Greene, Redstar, Novemeber 2016