Getting your mind and body ready for baby can feel like a full-time job! There’s lots to learn and lots to prepare, especially as a first time momma. But all of it is so special and fun! If you haven’t checked out my pregnancy resources post yet, be sure to look that over, so many goodies in there including childbirth courses, my favorite podcasts, vitamin k talk and more.
Not everything on this list is required, obviously. So pick and choose what works for you! I personally am doing everything. I sort of ran out of time to read all the books but trying my best. And while I remember my 6 dates per day, I often forget the tea because I’m a coffee girl, not a tea girl. But I do try my best to drink it a few times a week, especially in these last couple weeks. I’m going to make a big pitcher full and keep it in the fridge!
>> 11 Steps to Prepare for Labor and Birth:
1. Eat 6 dates per day!
To achieve this I make my new Samoa date balls recipe and eat 2 per day. I started this at 34 weeks. Sometimes I add a date to my smoothie too, for extra good measure and because I love their sweetness. Check out this post to learn how dates can make for a shorter and easier labor!!!
2. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
Red raspberry leaf tea is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the red raspberry plant. Historically, it has been used in remedies as a tonic to tone and strengthen the uterus, and promote faster labor and easier postpartum recovery. Pregnant women looking to jumpstart their labor have long turned to raspberry leaf tea because it’s thought to be a uterine tonic that boosts blood flow to the uterus and strengthens the muscle fibers. That, in turn, is believed to have the potential to get the birthing process started by triggering contractions. Strengthening the uterus is also thought to stave off excessive postpartum bleeding. I think it works for some and not for others! Doesn’t hurt to try though, right? And it tastes yummy with stevia and a splash of coconut milk for an afternoon treat. They say you can start drinking this in the second trimester.
3. Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is an oil derived from the seeds of the evening primrose plant. Often used as a health remedy, women have long taken it to relieve breast pain, PMS and menopause symptoms, as well as to induce labor. It’s a popular natural option and some swear by it! The oil is usually sold in capsule form. The capsules can be taken orally, but some women insert 1 or 2 directly into their vaginas, usually before bed. Others drain the oil from the capsules and rub it directly onto their cervix during the last days or weeks of pregnancy. The oil is thought to help thin the cervix, which can encourage it to dilate and jumpstart labor. I personally just take 2 capsules per day, but I may start experimenting with the other options, now that I’m 38 weeks!
4. Hypnobirthing course on the Expectful App
I’ve talked about this before on my instagram but it’s been SO NICE to listen to the hypnobirthing course instead of reading another book. I can listen while I clean, cook or walk Taz and it’s so very calming. Essentially, it’s a comprehensive hypnobirthing class that teaches you different breathing and visualization tactics to be utilized while in labor. It has helped to ease a lot of my fears and so many swear by it! I plan to listen to the meditations while in early labor! Just me and my headphones. I downloaded the Expectful app which is $10 per month and then after baby is here I will cancel it. I think this method can be so powerful, as birth is just as much mental as it is physical.
5. Pregnancy and Birthing Books
Like I mentioned above, I haven’t been the best with keeping on top of my books because this pregnancy has been a wild ride, but I have dabbled a bit into all of these! The first 2 I have finished 🙂
- The Mama Natural Week-By-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
- The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
- Pushed by Jennifer Block
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley
6. Chiropractic – (make sure they are Webster-Certified)
Because baby girl was breech there for a while, I was pushed into finding a Webster-Certified chiropractor at 34 weeks, to help get my body in the right alignment which in turn would help her flip on her own. They are trained specifically for pregnant mamas and helping baby to get in the optimal position. While that didn’t work for me, I’m SO GLAD I started seeing a chiropractor. They truly are amazing and it has turned into weekly self-care for me now. I highly recommend getting weekly adjustments starting at 36 weeks. It feels soooo good to get cracked!!! Plus you get to lay on your stomach for a few minutes which is heavenly.
Baby girl being breech was the reason I started getting acupuncture, specifically moxibustion and/or acupuncture on the pinky toe which is known to help breech babies flip naturally. The moxibustion is an ancient chinese remedy where smoke sticks are attached to the pinky toe. While it was so interesting and I felt a ton of baby movement afterward, this method did not work for me. But it was worth a try! I do know acupuncture can also help women go into labor, so that is something to look into!
8. Sit on a Birthing ball, daily
Instead of lounging on the couch, bounce on a birthing ball for a while! This helps to open the hips in preparation for labor which helps get baby in the optimal position, it moves the lymphatic system which can help reduce swelling, it alleviates any pain or discomfort, it promotes good posture and increases blood flow to the uterus, placenta and baby! I plan to sit on this with my headphones in during early labor!
9. Stay active and walk everyday
Even though it gets increasingly more difficult to stay active, it’s so important!! Walking has been my only form of exercise lately and I’m good with that. I also still do some Youtube videos from Nourish Move Love. It feels amazing to get outside and walk Tazzy though, plus it helps get baby in the optimal position! Staying active will keep your strength up for labor, and we know we need all the strength for that.
10. Print Birth Plans
Time to get your plans printed, just in case! It’s also nice to have on hand for your doula. My amazing friend Brittany from @nourishedwithbritt was kind enough to share her birth plan for a home-birth and also hospital, in case of a emergency transfer. I removed her name to make it more of a template so you can take it and fill it out. Please edit, add and change to your personal wants and desires. I know some things on here are touchy subjects – please do not come at me for certain things listed in the plans – this is PERSONAL CHOICE and is more so for laying out the protocols and environment you want your birth team to follow! Remember, you do you!
11. Get your hospital bag ready, just in case!
Here’s what I plan on packing, just in case of emergency transfer. I also think it will make it easy for my doula or midwife to grab something if they need it.
What’s in my hospital bag:
- Maternity & Postpartum Robe
- Bra for labor
- Gown for labor – I got a medium and small, for postpartum and nursing too
- Loungewear set for going home in
- Nursing bras
- Dermoplast and perineal foam
- Comfy Postpartum Underwear
- Makeup bag
- Dry shampoo & hairbrush
- Baby outfit, swaddles, onesies, hats
- Toothpaste and toothbrush
- Birth plans
- Snack Bars
- King coffee
- the cutest Slippers
I hope you found this post helpful!! Let me know in the comments if I missed anything!!