Are you 37 weeks pregnant and ready to get baby movin’ on out?!
Trust me - I’m right there with you! As someone who is pregnant in the heat of the summer and hoping for a VBAC birth, as soon as I hit 37 weeks my midwife gave me the go-ahead to start doing all the things to prepare my body for labor.
Today I’m going to share with you the 6 things I’m doing to prepare my body for labor! Some of these things I started earlier in my third trimester, but before we dive in, make sure to clear all of these activities with your provider!
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through Pronatal fitness. I am a mom to a toddler, and pregnant with my second baby!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your exercise program).
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Perineal massage (2-3x a week). This is something you can actually start around 34 weeks pregnant, and its purpose is to help relax the pelvic floor muscles in preparation for pushing. It is a common misconception that your pelvic floor pushes the baby out, but this isn’t true! It’s actually your uterus, and your pelvic floor muscles need to relax and move out of the way. One way you can help to relax the muscles and reduce your risk of tearing is by performing perineal massage! I have a whole blog post on the role of the pelvic floor during birth, so if you want to learn more about it, read the post HERE!
Sitting on a yoga/birthing ball (daily). I started doing this in my second trimester because it’s one of the most comfortable ways to sit! But instead of just bouncing, you want to focus on doing different techniques that will open up the pelvis. I like doing pelvic tilts (forwards and backward), pelvic rocking (side to side), and pelvic circles. These help to make space in the pelvis so baby can engage and *hopefully* get something going! You can also utilize the ball for many different stretches and exercises, which is a staple in my 3rd trimester workouts. One thing you want to make sure of is that you’re utilizing the correct size yoga ball! Make sure it’s big enough so that your hips and knees are both at a 90-degree angle (some people get one that is too small!) I personally like this brand and recommend it to my clients!
Eating 2-4 dates a day. Now this one is not one of my favorites. But the benefits are too good to pass up! Not only are they rich in antioxidants and contain dietary fiber to help relieve pregnancy constipation, but there have been multiple studies done that show eating them consistently in the month leading up to labor can help reduce time in the first stage of labor, and helps to soften the cervix. I have been eating them in the form of RX Bars, Lara Bars, and making “Snickers dates” (I followed this recipe!)
Drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea daily. Starting at 37 weeks you can drink up to 3 cups of this tea per day! I don’t mind the taste, so I just drink it straight up, but some people like to mix it with pineapple juice to cut the bitterness! It can increase Braxton Hicks contractions, so that’s something to keep in mind! The purpose of the tea is to help strengthen the uterus for labor.
Curb Walking. This one is exactly like it sounds! Throw on well-fitting sneakers and find a curb! You put one foot up on the curb and the other down on the road and walk. The unevenness creates asymmetry in the pelvis which helps baby engage and put pressure on the cervix. Make sure to switch legs about halfway through! And if you don’t have curbs where you live, you can walk up and down your stairs sideways, or do lunges on a step to create that asymmetry.
Resting as much as I can. Even though it’s tempting to try to walk, bounce and coax the baby out of you, resting is VERY important the last few weeks of pregnancy. If you’re like me and sleep is hard to come by, even just laying down and reading a book, or trying to take some mid-day naps if you can go a long way. Remember that labor and birth are a marathon and you don't want to head into it completely exhausted!
In addition to these 6 things I'm doing to prepare my body for labor, I’m also keeping up with my prenatal stretching and workout routine! I’m only working out about twice a week at this point (besides fitting in random exercises when I feel like it) but I know that this will also help my baby get into optimal positioning, and help me prepare for the physical demands of labor! If you are looking for workouts to support your body, check out my Labor & Birth Prep Mini-Course, and also be sure to download my FREE 3rd Trimester Birth Prep Guide!
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.