As a natural childbirth educator, I encourage couples to finish their childbirth class at least 1 month before their due date and 2 months before if they have the time. This leaves couples with 8 weeks to practice and prepare for their natural birth. I’m currently pregnant with baby number #6 and am due in about 8 weeks myself! Just like the couples in my classes, I’m spending these final weeks practicing and preparing for labor! Today we’re going to discuss 5 Ways to Prepare for Natural Childbirth in Just 8 Weeks. These are the things that are most important to do when the big day is right around the corner.
Prepare for Natural Childbirth #1: Practice Deep Relaxation
The ability to stay calm and relaxed during labor is an important element of a positive natural childbirth. But relaxing during a strong labor contraction requires both mental focus and lots of trained muscle memory. This skill is developed by consistently practicing deep relaxation during your pregnancy.
One easy way to practice relaxation is by listening to guided imagery scripts in a wide variety of upright, gravity-promoting positions. I encourage my couples to practice in this way for 20 minutes every day that they possibly can, and 8 weeks of consistent practice is enough time to develop the skill. Even as I approach the birth of baby #6, I still listen to guided imagery for 20 minutes each day in the effort to re-train my mind and body to release tension. It’s that important!
If you haven’t attempted guided imagery before, now the time to get started! You can click here to listen to a free sample of “White Light Imagery.” Get into a comfortable position on your couch and support your arms, head, and neck with pillows. Do your best to engage your mind in the imagery while completely relaxing your muscles.
Prepare for Natural Childbirth #2: Practice Breathing Techniques
Breathing techniques are a powerful tool that mom can use to promote a positive, natural childbirth. When used correctly, breathing techniques can dramatically increase a woman’s pain threshold. They’ll also help promote oxygenation, decrease anxiety, control hyperventilation and breath-holding, and provide a means of constructive attention-focusing. Breathing techniques are amazing!
Some slow, abdominal breathing techniques come very intuitively. Other patterned breathing techniques, such as modified and patterned paced breathing, require focus and practice to do effectively. If you want the benefits of breathing techniques in labor, you’ve got to take the time and practice during your pregnancy! If you haven’t done so already, consider participating in a natural childbirth class that offers instruction on breathing techniques. Then, practice regularly during those 8 weeks before baby is due.
Set a stop watch and attempt the technique for 90 seconds — the length of a long contraction in labor. If you feel well-oxygenated and relaxed afterwards, you can feel confident that you’ve got down the basics of the technique! Then, continue to practice regularly in the weeks leading up to your due date. With time, the breathing technique will feel more natural and easier to use.
Prepare for Natural Childbirth #3: Prepare Your Pelvis
In the final 8 weeks leading up to your due date, it’s time to prepare your pelvis for the work of giving birth. The goal is to have a loose, flexible pelvis. This will encourage optimal positioning of the baby in the pelvis. Increased flexibility will also increase the effectiveness of any positions you try during labor to help the baby descend.
Regular, low impact exercise combined with a regular stretching routine can do wonders to improve your physical health and increase the flexibility of your pelvis. Are you experiencing pain in your back or ligaments? If so, consider ways that you can improve your posture and decrease strain on your pelvis. Depending on your circumstances, you might also consult with a chiropractor that specializes in prenatal care and pelvic alignment.
Prepare for Natural Childbirth #4: Prepare Your Labor Support Team
While the bulk of the work obviously rests on mom’s shoulders, a positive natural childbirth is definitely a group effort. Plan at least one mock labor date night in the weeks before your due date. (The Kopa Birth® online childbirth class includes a 2-hour mock labor experience, complete with simulated contractions! Oh yeah…it’s a good time!!) This is the perfect opportunity for you and your partner to practice a dry run of your labor game plan and labor coping tools. This may include practicing breathing techniques, positions to promote comfort and labor progress, and sensory techniques like touch and massage.
Consider inviting an experienced doula to join you and your partner at your birth. Meet with her a few times before the big day arrives to build a level of comfort and trust. This additional support can be especially comforting for birth partners who feel overwhelmed or concerned about their role. Remember that doulas provide not only physical and emotional support for mom, but also help guide your partner in ways that he or she can shine in the role of birth partner.
Prepare for Natural Childbirth #5: Talk With Your Doctor or Midwife
Open communication with your doctor or midwife is so important when your goal is a natural birth. In the final 8 weeks of your pregnancy, most moms are asked to come in for prenatal visits every 2 weeks. Take advantage of this 1:1 time with your healthcare provider. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to ask questions and to share your plans for a natural childbirth. Remember that the majority of women want an epidural. So, given that your plans vary from the norm, it’s vital that you communicate your preferences beforehand.
Your childbirth class will guide you about what subjects you might want to discuss with your provider. This can include topics such as fetal monitoring, IV placement, eating in labor, cord clamping, pushing techniques, and many other subjects. Be confident that your doctor or midwife wants you to have an amazing birth experience. Do all you can to set yourself up for success by helping your provider know how to best support you and baby on the big day!
Natural childbirth is challenging and rewarding experience. Be sure to reserve some time in those final 8 weeks to prepare for natural childbirth. With practice, you’ll be amazed at what your mind and body can accomplish! Good luck to you as you prepare for a calm and confident birth!!
Kopa Birth’s online birthing classes allow you to prepare for a natural hospital birth from the comfort of your own home, 24/7. Enroll today in our free online childbirth class and start preparing for your natural birth!