Culturally, we put so much work into what to buy in order to prepare for the baby and much less on the process of actually bringing baby into the world. Just like somebody who is going to run a marathon would train for a long time ahead of the race, research best ways to run, and maybe even hire somebody to help in the process, preparing for birth should require the same amount of intention.
Just like preparing for a marathon, you can prepare your body to give birth. Your body is designed for this feat. You are stronger than you realize, and while your brain might not comprehend what you are moving towards, the instincts of birthing will kick in once it’s time.
1. Accept the idea of pain
Labor will be hard and it will hurt — it’s called labor for a reason. But just because it is challenging and hurts doesn’t mean that it’s unbearable or undoable. Consider that the pain has a purpose, and that purpose is to direct all of your attention to the work you’re doing physically so that you can focus your energy on giving birth. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to avoid pain in bringing a baby into this world. Even with pain medication or a C-section, you will most likely experience some pain through the process. Rather than trying to avoid the pain, we can try to embrace its purpose.
2. Connect to yourself
Being connected to your body can be the biggest support for you during labor. There are a lot of ways to work on this while you are pregnant. Taking a prenatal yoga class where you are focusing on breath and movement will help you strengthen your ability to tune into yourself. Many prenatal birthing classes also focus on staying strong while still opening up the body.
3. Have sex
Sex is another great way to get your body ready. Find a position that feels good to you (it might be different tomorrow) and enjoy. Having orgasms actually prepares your pelvic floor and tones the walls of your vagina for birth. Plus, all of those feel-good hormones that are released when you have an orgasm get transferred to the baby, so they will receive those hormonal benefits, too!
4. Learn to breathe
One of the best ways support your physical (and mental and emotional) state is to work on your breathing. If you are used to taking shallow breaths, or notice that when you get into a tense or stressful situation you breathe less (or not as well), practice taking several deep breaths many times throughout the day. Taking longer exhales than inhales signals your body to relax. In tense or stressful situations, breathing gives your brain enough oxygen to stay alert to take the next right action.
5. Get lots of rest
Consider that labor will be a marathon, not a sprint. Your body needs to rest, heal, and prepare. Resting supports all of the physical structures of your body, as well as your mental and emotional states. Towards the end of your pregnancy, you may even feel more inclined to rest or to stay in – listen to that voice.
You are your greatest guide.
6. Know you can do it
Remember that you can do this — pregnancy, birth, motherhood, all of it. You have a capacity beyond what you already know and understand and you can trust that. Birth is full of transitions, and the biggest of all is you becoming a mother. You won’t just birth with your body, you will birth with your entire being.
Support yourself holistically by taking care of all of the parts of yourself. Remember that being strong isn’t always about doing and being more; sometimes, strength comes through surrender, in allowing something new to take place.
You are strong. You are capable. You are ready.