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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10 Tips to Help You Prepare for Childbirth and Labor

Getting ready for labor can be nerve racking, especially if this is your first child. Here are a few tips from FitPregnancy.com to help you prepare.

Reduce your pain and stress during delivery with these tips from the pros.

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It often feels like life is moving faster and faster all the time, but in the delivery room, things are actually slowing down. A National Institutes of Health study found that childbirth for first-time moms now takes 2.6 hours longer than it did 50 years ago. To make that extra time in the delivery room less painful and more joyful, it helps to know how to make the hard work of having a baby more manageable. Starting today, here are 10 things you can do to make your birth experience that much easier.

1. Join the head of the class

Take a childbirth course and enroll as early as possible: Not only do classes fill up fast, but some, such as The Bradley Method courses, run 12 weeks, which means you need to start them in your second trimester.

Also, find out what your doctor’s philosophy is on Cesarean sections and epidurals versus drug-free ways of managing pain. Ask tough questions—and “stupid” ones, too— to learn about the different stages of labor so you know what to expect. “The better prepared you are, the more choices you have during labor,” says nurse practitioner Lynette Miya, M.N., R.N.P., of Torrance, Calif. “You don’t want to arrive at the hospital without any idea of what’s going to happen.” Once labor starts, no surprise is a good surprise.

2. Find strength and focus

“The most important thing women learn through yoga is how to focus,” says Carmela Cattuti, L.P.N., a Boston-based Kripalu certified instructor specializing in prenatal yoga certification training. “It also strengthens the entire body, increases flexibility and gives you stamina. But what is possibly even more helpful is that it helps your mind relax.” This, in turn, leaves your body free to go about the business of birthing.

3. Nix negativity

Some childbirth educators believe graphic images, catastrophic tales and words of discouragement (“You’ll never be able to get that monster out without a C-section!”) can affect your subconscious and create a mental block during labor.

At best, negative thoughts make labor stressful; at worst, they’ll actually intensify pain. Change the channel on the TV, tune out or walk away when the subject matter makes you uncomfortable; also, shield yourself from scary labor Facebook threads by logging off.

Bonus: Learning to do this now will help you avoid being affected by all the unwanted advice you’ll get after the baby is born.

4. Study up

When you’re in the grip of labor, it’s too late to crack open that self-hypnosis book or locate a birthing ball. Preparation counts.

Case in point: Squatting increases the size of the pelvic opening by about 28 percent. But if you wait until you’re in labor to try it for the first time, your squatting stamina won’t add up to, well, squat.

5. Secure support

Doulas are nonmedical professionals trained to provide emotional and physical support as well as information to women during pregnancy and labor. Studies have found that with a trained doula’s continuous support, labor times are shorter and the need for epidurals, C-sections, oxytocin for induction and forceps were decreased by about half. Another study concluded that women who received support through a hospital- based doula program were more likely to attempt breastfeeding. Check out DONA International (dona.org) to help you locate a certified doula in your area.

6. Have a trick up your sleeve

Learn several effective techniques to manage pain during childbirth, such as self-hypnosis, position changes, heat pack application and different breathing methods. “If you don’t know what your options are, you don’t have any,” says Tracy Hartley, a certified doula and owner of B*E*S*T Doula Service in Los Angeles.

7. Get on up

Upright positions, such as standing, walking, kneeling, slow dancing, sitting and squatting, allow gravity to help move the baby down and out. “Sometimes, getting the baby into the pelvis is like fitting a key into a lock,” Hartley says. “You need to do a little jiggling. Rocking back and forth on your hands and knees may help to get the baby into position.”

Check out more labor positions.

8. Set the scene

For most women, a dark and quiet environment is ideal during labor, so ask your nurse or partner to dim the lights and minimize noise. Little touches make a difference: a favorite pillow, pair of socks or soothing scent. “Aromatherapy, especially the scent of lavender, is very calming in labor,” says Miya.

9. Be a water baby

The warmth and weightlessness of a bath can be soothing throughout your labor, so if you have access to a warm tub, take the plunge. (Be sure to get your doctor or midwife’s green light before doing so; there’s a risk of infection if your water has broken.)

If a soak isn’t possible, try taking a shower.

10. Stay true to yourself

Labor transforms you, but it won’t make you suddenly love lime Jell-O, New Age music or the sight of your in-laws as you breathe through a contraction. People may push all kinds of suggestions on you during labor; listen but don’t feel you have to go along with them.

It’s your body, your baby and your labor, so stick to your guns. Consider it practice for when your baby is a teenager.

http://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/labor-delivery/10-tips-help-you-prepare-childbirth-labor

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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Keeping up the workouts

 

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Workout of the day…

Incline dumbbell bench press – 10
Single Leg Step Ups with dumbbells – 10 each leg
Assisted pull ups – 10
Kettlebell swings – 20
Repeat 4 times

Early Morning Workout

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This morning’s workout came much earlier than usual – 6am! While getting up with my alarm was painful as always, it felt great to have my workout done before 7am.

I have many clients who struggle with getting their workouts in during the day or even at night. By end of day we have a million and one reasons why we shouldn’t go to the gym or even get a quick workout in at home. From being tired, to cooking dinner, to family activities – the excuses just keep adding up. That’s why morning workouts (while sometimes painful to wake up for) tend to be more effective. Other than your alarm, there aren’t as many things standing in your way! Plus, if you workout in the morning you are starting your day off right, boosting your metabolism, and you don’t have to worry about fitting it in later.

Today’s workout…

Warm-Up – 5 minutes walking on treadmill
Foam Rolling – legs/IT bands and Psoas

Squats – 10 (increasing weight each time)
Repeat 4 times

Thrusters – 6 reps
Repeat 4 times

Deadlifts – 5
Bulgarian Split Squats – 10
Jump Rope – 50
Repeat 2 times

 

Kitchen Workout

Some days there is no way to fit in your traditional workout, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be done! This is where the “Kitchen workout” comes into play. Yesterday I literally was going all day and couldn’t get my desperately needed workout in by it’s self, but here is what I did. There are always a few minutes/seconds in between cooking and prepping dinner so I fit in a couple squats, lunges, tricep dips and stand ups. I didn’t have to leave the kitchen, food was perfectly cooked and I got my workout in! Life is fully of excuses, it’s finding ways around your excuses that end in positive results!

Squats – 20
Reverse lunges – 10 each side
Tricep dips – 10 (with or without doggy kisses!)
Single leg stand ups – 10 each side
Lateral lunges – 10 each side
Repeat 3 times or until dinner is ready!

 

30 minute Home workout

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Today’s workout was quick, but effective! Focus was on the rear end seeing as summer is  coming. Even though I don’t foresee myself wearing a bikini, the more I do now the easier it will be to get in shape post baby.

Single leg stand ups – 10 each leg holding kettlebell
Single arm snatch with kettlebell – 10 each arm
Single leg RDLs – 10 each leg
Kettlebell Swings – 20

Snow Day Workout

From 70 degrees yesterday to over a foot of snow today – you have to love the Colorado weather. Since we were stuck inside today we got in a quick workout.

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View of our patio furniture.
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My little ones playset – I think it’s in there!

Warm-Up –

Jumping Jacks – 30
Quick High Knees – 30 each leg
Slow Mt. Climbers – 20 each leg

Workout –

S – Split Squats (20 each leg)
N – Narrow Push-Ups (20)
O – Overhead Press with Alternating Lunge (20)
W – Windmill Abs (20 each side)
D – Dumbbell Deadlifts (20)
A – Arnold’s Dumbbell Press (20)
Y – Yay! for Burpees (10)

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!

Back in the Game

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It has been a week since we had to make a trip to the hospital and a week since my last workout. I have taken the time to let me body recover and to make sure to perfect my eating habits to decrease the chance of going back to the hospital again. Wednesday was the lowest energy I have been in a long time and it felt like my abs had been through one of the toughest workouts ever thanks to all the contractions. By Friday some of my energy had returned and I no longer felt like my blood sugar was tanked.

To detail how my meals have changed…first and foremost I have increased my eating frequency. Every couple of hours I will have a meal or a snack with both protein and complex carbohydrates. I was sometimes doing this before, but now I am not missing a snack!  I am completely staying away from sugary snacks and drinks to avoid the huge spike in your blood sugar. I will have the occasional soda, natural and sweetened with Stevia, to satisfy my sweet tooth, but nothing else. Stevia is a natural sweetener that will not affect your blood sugar levels like regular sugar, but is a much healthier option than artificial sweeteners.

Yesterday’s meals…

Breakfast: 2 Sausages, Quinoa bake, and protein shake.
Snack: Trail mix with dried fruit, cashews and pecans.
Lunch: Chicken breast, sauteed squash, zucchini and carrots, and gluten free mac’n cheese
Snack: Apples and natural peanut butter
Snack: Chia Seed Bar
Dinner: Sweet potatoes cooked in Natural Bacon grease, bacon, asparagus and grilled pork chops.
Snack: Right before bed I will typically have a small amount of nuts or a protein muffin and a glass of water.

The reason I have been so conscience about my food and eating is due to the fact that my blood sugar seems to be running lower than my normal. This can be expected the baby is taking a good amount of the nutrients away from me to grow. Because my blood sugars tend to be lower I have the tendency to uptake sugars quickly and utilize them even quicker. For those of you who may not be a familiar with how your blood sugar works. When you eat something sugary (cookies, candy, cereal, bread, etc) your body is able to take in those nutrients much quicker than protein or fat, which quickly increases your blood sugar. As seen in the image below protein and fat take longer to be broken down into fuel and do not affect the blood sugar as does carbs.

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Some people may notice that immediately after eating something sugary or made of simply carbohydrates they have energy, but within an hour they are looking for something else to eat or caffeine to bring their energy up.

This doesn’t mean that people do not need carbohydrates, we do! But we need to be smart about when and what types we are consuming. Carbohydrates that are more complex and provide a great amount of nutrients are items such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, vegetables and fruits. These will not have as dramatic effect on the blood sugar as items such as white rice, tortillas, sugars, cereals, etc.

Some women’s blood sugars, like mine, may run lower than their “normal” during pregnancy, which can lead to symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, weakness, blured vision, hunger or headaches.  Maintaining a steady diet in protein, fats and complex carbohydrates can ensure blood sugar levels remain steady throughout the day.

Women who have or are at risk for having gestational diabetes will actually have the opposite or high blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes starts when your body is not able to make and use all the insulin it needs for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be changed to energy. Glucose builds up in the blood to high levels. This is called hyperglycemia. (See more at: http://www.diabetes.org/diabetes-basics/gestational/what-is-gestational-diabetes.html#sthash.nXpsbDst.dpuf)

 

Today’s workout…

1 mile (1600 meter) Row on Rower

Leg Press – 3×10
Walking lunges with barbell – 2x8each leg
Barbell RDLs – 2×10
Lateral box step ups – 2x10each leg (holding Kettlebell in hands)

Post workout feelings – GREAT! Minimal contractions, lots of water consumed and legs were happy to get a short workout in!!!