How to Prepare for Birth: 8 Tips from a Doula

Ready yourself for an easier labor and delivery.

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As we grow these little tiny beings in our bodies, we are always thinking about the big day when he/she will come out. “How will I be able to handle the pain?” we ask ourselves. “What can I do to prepare?” The truth of the matter is, there is a lot of pain, suffering and “uncomfortableness” around pregnancy, and leading up to the big day. If we condition ourselves to be “comfortable” with what we go through during pregnancy, we will have a solid foundation going into birth.

Here are eight ways you can prepare yourself and your body for a smooth labor and easier birth.

1. Educate Yourself

There’s a lot of fear around the unknown of what happens to our bodies during pregnancy and labor. The more fear that we have, the more we become anxious and the more stress hormones are released, thus making labor, in itself, more painful. As you ease your mind–empowering it with information about what to expect throughout pregnancy and labor–the intensity of pain lessens.

2. Tap the Power of Pregnancy Yoga

In a pregnancy yoga practice, there’s a lot of emphasis on breathing, especially through the difficult poses. Through working with our breath, we are able to relax more in uncomfortable moments. Our breath will allow us to remain present and ground us during these times, as well as give us a break in between tough times.

By practicing the poses common to most pregnancy yoga classes, you will learn how to release lower back tension, and open up your chest and shoulders and hips. All of these muscles can hold onto tension during pregnancy and labor, so learning how to release this tension during your pregnancy is very helpful.

3. Make TIme for Meditation

A meditation practice puts your body and mind into training that enables you to sit with times of discomfort. The deeper we are able to go into a practice, the more objectively we are able to observe everything around and within ourselves, rather than reacting to it. It will allow us to remain present with everything.

4. GIve Yourself Regular Exercise

Through consistent activity, you allow your body to be conditioned, to become stronger, and to be able to withstand added stress on your joints and muscles. As baby grows within our bodies, our load increases. Our bodies become more used to the “uncomfortableness” of pregnancy and labor.

Walking is one of the best activities to do when you are pregnant. It teaches you patience and induces a state of relaxation.

5. Utilize Visualizations and Mantras

Our mind is a very powerful tool in pain management. Through specific mantras and sayings, we can decrease our pain. A favorite saying I like to use is, “Strong mama breath. Breathe in for baby.” Or with each contraction, visualize your cervix as a flower that is opening, as you chant, “Open, open, open.”

6. Call in Your Support System

Having a stable, peaceful support team is very helpful during childbirth. Don’t hesitate to stand up for yourself (or have your partner do so) and tactfully ask a non-peaceful person to leave the room. Hiring a doula is another great way to help support you and your partner during this time.

A doula is trained in the birth process and in how to help alleviate extra stress of the unknown. Every doula is different in their gifts that they bring to a birth. An increase in peacefulness during the birth process equals a decrease in pain.

7. Harness Your Mental Strengths

Trust in the whole process of pregnancy and labor. Visualize that each contraction is a wave that slowly peaks in intensity, then comes down.

Having this sense of courage, as you face a contraction, knowing that it will pass, will decrease the anxiety and stress around it. Trust that this too shall pass. In between each contraction, focus on the breath, to allow yourself to rest and become present to this time.

8. Be Present

Whatever “uncomfortable” situation you are in, breathe it fully in. There is no running, no escaping, just being with it. If it is a contraction, let it wash over you, like a wave, then soften and surrender into it, as if you were a jellyfish. Allow it to pass through you. It is our very breath that will allow us to be present with it all.

http://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/how-prepare-birth-8-tips-doula

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Catching Up

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It’s been a while since I have posted my workouts. I have either failed to fit them in or had substituted with walks, outdoor building/gardening or a workout I simply never got posted. My sincerest apologies to those who are using them for your own workouts.

I am now nine days from my due date and the contractions are starting to pick up. Nothing crazy but definitely more frequent and occasionally keeping me up at night. Take last night for instance, finally at 1:00am I realized the contractions we fairly close together and quiet frequent. Per my experience the first time around I began to drink water, just to ensure I wasn’t having contractions due to dehydration. By 2:30am I woke my husband up and informed him and we started timing more closely. One glass of water down. By 2:45am I called the doctor who told me to come on in, but take my time. So take my time I did and immediately after calling contractions started to slow down. Needless to say we decided to stay home and wait it out. End result – still pregnant!

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However, on a fitness note yesterday we did take a mini hike and today the little guy and I took a stroll around the neighborhood.  When we got back I incorporated a small amount of strength work:

30 body weight squats
30 dumbbell snatch (each side)
30 dumbbell squats
30 dumbbell tricep presses.

Keeping moving is helping me to stay sane and feel like I am not losing total control of my body! It has also helped to keep the swelling down this time. Comparing pictures from my last pregnancy and talking with friends/family, we have all realized I was a whole lot more swollen last time around. Below are a few of my most embarrassing pictures – enjoy!

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Home stretch fun

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Now that I am 35 weeks and counting, I am starting to notice my sleep is decreasing, my brain is foggy, my muscles ache a lot more and my emotions are on a bit of a roller coaster.

Sleep is playing a huge roll in my inability to think as clearly as possible. Case and point: yesterday I thought it was Tuesday, when in fact it was Monday – therefore I showed up to my clients house for our Personal Training appointment right on time. I waited in front of her house for a while, rang her door bell with no answer, finally shot her a text to get the response “Yes, we are schedule for 6pm tomorrow“! Duh! This has just been the tip of the iceberg. Several times I have mixed up dates, forgot what I was talking about in the middle of my sentence and my favorite – walked into a room several times with no recollection of what I went in there for. A few things that have helped my sleep a bit over the past couple nights – warm bath with bath salts right before bed, not using my phone for an hour before going to bed and adding Calcium/Magnesium supplement prior to going to bed. The only thing can’t really control in the number of times I have to get up to pee! Seriously, the other night it was four times!!!! Good news is that I am staying hydrated, bad news for any hope of consistent sleep.

Over the past couple weeks I have noted a spike in muscle cramping at night. Throughout the day I may be sore, but the moment I hop into bed I feel like I belong in a “Restless leg syndrome” commercial. The few things I have added is stretching and muscle release techniques (ex: foam rolling), additional supplementation of Calcium/Magnesium (Magnesium plays a huge roll in muscle cramps), extra bananas and increase movement. Sitting, I believe, is contributing to my muscles aches and pains.

Emotions have been the best part of the past couple weeks! One minute I am happy and content and the next I am crying or upset with someone. My husband has been extremely supportive and understanding through the whole thing. My son on the other hand just looks at me like I am a crazy mommy!

Today’s home workout…

Stair “running” – Run up and walk down 10 times
Single Leg Lateral Step Ups – 15 each leg
Incline Push-Ups – 20
Tricep Dips – 15
Lunges – 10 each leg
Calf Raises – 20

Repeat 3 times

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

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My shirt says…”I caught me a wee leprechaun!”

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I did a “Lucky 7” workout….

70 – Jump Ropes
7 – Deadlifts
7 – Push-Ups
7 – Squats
7 – Overhead Press with Dumbbells
7 – Lunges with Dumbbells
7 – Assisted Pull-Ups
7 – Keg RDLs
Repeat 4 times

Good luck!