If you are nervous about your impending labor and delivery, you may want to try these techniques to help you prepare for childbirth!
In this article:
- Kegel Exercise
- Prenatal Yoga
- Perineal Massage
- Labor at Home
- Staying Mobile
- Take a Bath
- Hire a Doula
- Hot and Cold Compress
- Make Noise
- Focus and Positive Thinking
11 Strategies to Ease Labor and Delivery
1. Kegel Exercise
Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor muscle training. It works by strengthening the pelvic floor muscle. If you don’t know where your pelvic floor muscles are, you can try looking for it on your next bathroom break.
While you’re peeing, try stopping midstream. The muscles that flex to stop the urine are your pelvic floor muscles.
To do Kegel exercises, imagine using that muscle to lift and release a small marble. This can be repeated 10-15 times, three times a day.
You need to focus while you’re doing your Kegel exercises. Make sure you’re not inadvertently flexing your abs, thighs, or butt instead of your pelvic floor muscles.
Kegel exercises help the pelvic floor muscles support the growing uterus throughout pregnancy. And because of the muscle control gained from the exercise, it can help mom push more efficiently when it’s time to deliver the baby.
2. Prenatal Yoga
One of the great things about prenatal yoga is it’s a holistic approach. It aims to provide expectant moms with strategies to help manage both their body and mind.
Prenatal yoga helps the expectant mom exercise and strengthen the muscles they will use in childbirth. It also gives them the opportunity to practice different positions that may lead to more efficient delivery.
Labor can last for a long time. Prenatal yoga can equip them with concentration and breathing techniques that may help reduce anxiety and stress.
Attending a prenatal yoga class is also a great way to connect with other expectant moms. Be sure to talk to your doctor before attending your first prenatal yoga class.
3. Perineal Massage
The perineum is the skin between the vagina and anus. Since it’s so close to where the baby is exiting (the vagina canal), it’s at risk of tearing during the birthing process.
In some cases, doctors will opt to perform an episiotomy, a surgical incision in the perineum, to help the delivery. First-time moms are more at risk of a perineum tear or an episiotomy.
This may be avoided if moms take some time to massage their perineal area 4-6 weeks before their estimated due date. The massage helps make that area more flexible and better able to withstand the stretching needed for childbirth.
Perineal massage instructions:
- Soften the perineum area by taking a warm bath or place a warm washcloth on that area for 10 minutes
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap
- Lay down in a comfortable position and use pillows to prop up your back
- Lubricate thumbs with non-toxic oils such as almond oil, vitamin e oil, olive oil, or coconut oil
- Insert about one inch of your thumb at the halfway point of your vagina (halfway between the clitoris and the lower part near your anus)
- From the halfway point, slowly work your way down to the area of your vagina nearest to the perineum. Take your time and wait for the area to stretch.
- After a few tries, check to see if you can insert your second thumb so that you can do the massage using both thumbs at the same time.
- You can do this massage for 3-5 minutes at a time. Pace yourself according to your comfort.
Tip: For women who find themselves too pregnant to reach down to their perineum, use a mirror to help navigate through the area or simply ask your partner to do the massage for you. Be sure to talk to your doctor before attempting to give yourself a perineal massage.
Massages are a great way for the expectant moms to practice breathing through discomfort and pain. Massages can also help make contractions easier to deal with.
When the muscles are more flexible from regular massages, they tend to relax quicker after a contraction. This gives mom more time to rest between the contractions.
Massages are also a welcome relief during labor. It’s common for women to experience back and leg aches during labor and their partners can offer a calming back massage in between contractions.
There are even some pressure points said to promote the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps facilitate the labor process. These pressure points include: a firm handhold, pressing firmly on the upper arm, and pressing firmly on the thighs.
Make sure to consult your doctor before your first prenatal massage.
5. Labor at Home
Early labor can take a while and the wait can make some expectant moms anxious. Before your contractions become more regular, try to spend most of the waiting time at home.
Take advantage of the comfort of familiar surroundings. There are things you’ll be able to comfortably do at home that might be more difficult once you’ve checked into the hospital.
Most women wait until their contractions are a minute long and five minutes apart before heading to the hospital. Be sure to keep your doctor updated on the progress of your labor.
6. Staying Mobile
It might seem counterintuitive to suggest moving to combat discomfort and pain, but it can really be helpful for women in labor. Walking around can actually help the labor progress and can relieve some aches and pains.
You even use a birth ball while you’re in labor. Sitting on a birth ball or leaning on it can help increase blood flow to the uterus, manage the pain, and it may even help your baby get into a better birthing position.
It might be tricky if your doctors have you strapped on to medical devices, such as a fetal monitor or an IV. Try to negotiate and compromise with your doctor or nurse for more mobility.
7. Take a Bath
Hydrotherapy is a simple way to make labor easier. If you’re still in early labor and you’re at home, try taking a long warm shower or a soak in the tub. The warm water may relax you and even put you in the mood to nap.
What Is Hydrotherapy? Formerly called hydropathy, this is an alternative medicine involving the use of water for treatment or pain relief. It is also dubbed as the water cure.
Active labor can be tiring, so rest and sleep when you can. More than just a way to relax, baths can also promote the release of oxytocin which helps speed up labor.
If you’re in the hospital, taking a bath is also a great way to squeeze in some privacy. Savor these last few moments when it’s just you and your baby.
It can be a bit of a frenzy once you deliver your baby. Take some time to enjoy the calm before the storm.
8. Hire a Doula
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A doula is a trained professional who helps women before, during, and after they give birth. They are sometimes called a birth companion or a birth coach.
While doulas can provide support during the pregnancy and after giving birth, they play a more active role during labor and delivery. Doulas guide women through breathing exercises and positions that help make labor more comfortable.
They also act as an advocate for the mother and their chosen birth plan. Studies show mothers who hire doulas are less likely to experience complications during labor and delivery.
9. Hot and Cold Compress
It’s not uncommon for women to have all sorts of aches and pains during labor. The most commonly reported pains are back, groin, and thigh aches.
The pain can be relieved a hot or cold compress, depending on the expectant mom’s preference. Be sure to pack a hot water bottle, a microwavable heating pad, or a cold pack in your hospital bag so you have this option.
10. Make Noise
It may seem strange, but moaning or grunting can actually provide some relief while you’re in labor. The act of moaning or grunting actually allows your birthing muscles to relax and open more easily.
It’s also a great opportunity to release tension during intense contractions. Don’t be afraid to make noises when you’re in labor.
11. Focus and Positive Thinking
Some women labor for a few hours, while others can be in labor for a few days. Extended waiting, discomfort, and pain is the perfect recipe for anxiety and stress.
To help ward off unnecessary anxiety, keep your eyes on the prize. Make sure to surround yourself with people who will remind you of the wonderful goal of labor — your beautiful baby!
Check out this video from Pure2RawTwins for some exercises you can do in preparation for labor:
Giving birth can seem scary, especially for first-time moms. The pain and discomfort will all be worth it when you’re holding your precious one in your arms.
Have you tried any of these strategies to help you prepare for labor and delivery? Let us know in the comments section.