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    Month 9: Preparing My Body For Birth

    We are just a week away from this baby’s due date! She may come any day now. Everything is going wonderfully so far, and we are so grateful for an easy pregnancy.

    We have packed our birth bags, made some extra meals and frozen them, sent all our thank you cards, and stocked up on diapers! (That sentence made the preparation sound easy, but let me assure you that is a gross understatement of what it takes to prepare!)

    I can definitely feel my body warming up for labor. There are so many things your body does towards the end of pregnancy to get ready for birth. These things are built into our DNA, like practice contractions, and changes to our brain function and hormones.

    But, beyond those “warm ups” that our bodies will naturally go through, there are exercises I’ve been doing, and foods I’ve been eating, to help my body and my baby’s body through the intensity of labor.

    Our team of midwives gave us a lot of education in natural childbirth so we could be better prepared. It has been wonderful being a part of a holistic care team, and community of other parents-to-be, instead of just relying on books.

    For those of you out there who are hoping for a natural childbirth, if and when you are pregnant, these tips might help you too…

     

    Building Stamina

    This area has been a huge struggle for me, with being so tired and big!

    Building your stamina is a very important thing you can do to prepare for a successful childbirth. A woman’s body has to work really hard at moving that baby out, for up to a day or more. If you have good physical stamina, you will be able to withstand the intensity a lot better. You’ll also be able to be a more active participant in the labor, being able to change positions, dancing, walking and doing other things to help the baby descend.

    Stairs

    It has been really difficult for me to keep up with regular exercise, but I’m trying my best. I walk up and down stairs every day, several times. This can be quite tiring with an extra 28 pounds! Our midwives did say that as you near labor, climbing stairs can be good to help the baby descend evenly into the pelvis.

    Walks

    I’ve also been taking several long walks every week. The recommendation from our midwives has been to get a 2-3 mile walk everyday, but there is no way I could have kept up with that each day! 

    Squats

    I’ve also been doing lots of squats throughout the whole pregnancy. A quote from Ina May Gaskin really stuck with me, “Squat 300 times a day, you’re going to give birth quickly.” Now, 300 squats sounds quite insane, and not every woman’s body will do well with squats of course, but I have loved doing as many as possible. I also like holding deep squats for minutes at a time to stretch and strengthen my pelvic area.

    Sleep

    Sleep is really important for building energy reserves. I’ve made sure to get 8 or more hours of sleep every night for the last month. I can tell that my body would be happier with about 10 hours though. I will try to get that much on the weekends now as we get closer to due day.

     

    Building Nutrient Reserves

    There has been a lot of emphasis from our team of midwives on nutrients that will be important in the last phase of pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. If you have a good care team who knows about holistic nutrition, they can look at what you’re eating a make sure everything is balanced. The nutrients below were ones that I needed to watch out for, because of my health tendencies.

    Calcium (and minerals in general) are really important for the baby’s last few weeks of strengthening and building bones. It’s also important for milk production. You want to get calcium from natural sources, in balanced amounts. I don’t think there is any need to go overboard or use synthetic supplements. My food-based prenatal has some calcium in it as well.

    I have a history with taking prednisone for over a decade, which puts you at risk for osteoporosis. According to our care team, breastfeeding can also increase your risk for osteoporosis, so I definitely needs to watch out for this one!

    I’ve been getting calcium from grass-feed, organic bone broth, figs, molasses, green vegetables, seeds, and herbal teas specific to pregnancy.

    Protein is emphasized for preventing pre-eclampsia and sustaining energy and muscle mass. I have been getting a mix of wild caught fish, organic chicken, grass-fed beef, sprouted nuts and seeds, and beans and rice (or quinoa) several times each day. I have also chosen to supplement with collagen protein powder. 

    Iron. I am Blood Type O+, and a Vata Body Type, so energetically “warming,” “heavy” and “moistening” red meat really helps my body when I feel out of balance. I can feel my body craving more iron and all the dense protein in red meat, so I’ve started adding a little bit more this month in order to build up on iron and protein reserves. I also have a history of severe anemia, and I don’t want to risk losing too much blood during childbirth, with not enough iron in my diet to rebuild it.

    Antioxidants. I’ve been eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies with superfoods for antioxidants. I’ve used spirulina, baobab fruit powder, bee pollen, and other superfoods for extra micronutrients.

    I’m happy with my prenatal supplement regime, so I’ve stuck with it all the way through!

     

    Baby Positioning

    Making sure the baby is in a good position for birth is an important part of labor preparation. Birth is much easier if the baby is head down, facing sideways or backwards, and there is a lot you can do to facilitate that.

    But, what is important to note is that a breech baby is actually pretty rare. Our team of midwives told us that breech babies happen in about 4% of U.S. births. I do not know where they got that statistic, but it certainly helped me feel more at ease.

    Still, we wanted to do what we could to prevent a breech baby, and I would love to prevent too much back labor pain caused by her facing the “wrong” way.

    Luckily, our baby girl flipped head down early in the 8 month and has stayed that way since. Her head is low down and I can feel her putting pressure on the birth canal.

    Some things I did to help her get into a good position for birth were…

    Sitting Wide: It is not very polite, but sitting with my hips wide, pelvic bones and belly tipped forward has been a habit since 5 months.  It’s way more comfortable than crossing legs and it helps make room for the baby to move about as she needs to.

    Birth Ball: Many midwives and doulas gave me the advice to sit on a birth ball instead of the couch so my hips could widen naturally. You can also lean over the birth ball while kneeling on the floor to encourage the baby’s back to fall into the front of the belly, which is ideal for an easier labor.

    Rebozo: We also learned how to use a rebozo scarf to help position the baby during our birth class. The partner can facilitate a few movements with the scarf on the mama’s belly to almost “jiggle” the baby into position. It’s called Manteado. We were told that when done repeatedly, this really helps the baby settle into a good centered and backwards facing position. It can also be done during labor to relieve pressure and facilitate movement.

     

    Well, there are so many more things you can do to help your body prepare for birth, but those have been the tips that resonated most with me! If you have more tips that helped you, leave them below! I’d love to hear them.

    I hope this was helpful for you or your loved ones who are hoping for a natural birth. Please share the info if you think someone would benefit.

    Now, I’m going to go back to waiting patiently for this baby to decide that she’s ready to join us! 

    Keep taking back your health,
    Robin

     

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