Inside: You’ve entered your third trimester, and you’re getting so close to the big day! Here are 7 natural ways to prepare your body for labor. Do what you can, but rest assured, your body was made to do this.
I distinctly remember the days leading up to my first labor and delivery. What stands out is the waiting, mindless waiting.
It was week 39. I had quit my job and taken the week off to “get ready”.
Except getting ready pretty much looked like…doing nothing. I did some baby laundry, got a few meals ready, and caught up with some friends.
But mostly, I sat around. Waiting.
I didn’t know what else to do to prepare for labor, and let me tell you, that labor was far from successful.
My water broke early, I ended up on pitocin while trying for a natural birth (not a good idea) and eventually, it ended in an emergency c-section.
Now, five babies later, I’ve learned that there are SO many natural things you can do to get your body ready for labor, all of which would have been so much more productive than sitting around.
Would it have changed my outcome? Not necessarily.
But doing any or all of these things certainly wouldn’t have HURT anything.
We already covered how to mentally prepare for labor, how to ditch the fear and embrace what your body was made to do.
Now let’s talk about how you can prepare for labor – naturally. Much of this advice presumes that you are already a natural lovin’ mama.
Disclaimer: I am in no way a medical professional; the advice on this blog is to be viewed as opinion only and NOT to be used in place of a medical professional. Please – consult your medical provider for any and all health needs or questions.
7 Natural Ways to Prepare Your Body for Labor
There are a plethora of ways to prepare for labor and get your body ready for a natural birth.
Here are the methods you can try to have a successful, faster and more enjoyable labor as a first-time mom.
1. Drink red raspberry leaf tea.
You can start drinking red raspberry leaf tea in your third trimester.
Red raspberry leaf (RRL) tea has been proven to reduce the need for medical interventions during birth, decrease labor time and improve overall ease of labor and delivery.
How can one simple herbal tea accomplish all of that? Well, the fragrarine compound in red raspberry leaves has been found to tighten and tone uterine muscles (source).
You can start drinking red raspberry leaf tea at 32 weeks – not before – as long as you have the approval of your midwife or OB/GYN.
Red raspberry leaf tea can also be beneficial after birth to help with postpartum recovery.
Important Note: Some providers actually warn against the consumption of red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy. Be sure to consult YOUR personal physician for their official recommendation for YOUR unique pregnancy and health circumstances.
How to Make Raspberry Leaf Tea
You can brew red raspberry leaf tea according to the package directions, adjusting steeping times based on your personal tastes.
You can make multiple quarts at a time if you store it in a pitcher in the refrigerator. Sweeten each quart to taste with sugar or stevia.
2. Eat dates to prepare for labor.
- soften the cervix,
- reduce the need for medical interventions,
- decrease after birth bleeding, and
- can possibly shorten labor.
Watch Evidence Based Birth’s video about the science behind eating dates for better labor and delivery.
Mama Natural also has a great article about eating dates during pregnancy.
3. Go for a daily walk.
Girl, get walkin’. If you’re physically able to walk, do it!
I was admittedly a slacker in the exercise department during my first pregnancy.
I gained 50 pounds during that pregnancy, and because I hadn’t made exercise a habit before getting pregnant, I for sure didn’t start one after I found out I was pregnant and felt like crap.
I definitely could have utilized this method throughout pregnancy AND to prepare my body for labor.
It’s what I used to restart labor when my labor stalled with my second baby, and I wanted to avoid the c-section scheduled for the following morning. Man, then I walked like my life depended on it (I went on to have a successful VBAC).
Walking is a great form of gentle exercise that most pregnant women can do. And, interestingly, walking has actually been show to be one of the best ways to naturally prepare your body for labor.
If that didn’t convince you, here are several more reasons you should be walking to prep your body for labor:
- Walking tones hip muscles and encourages better pelvic flexibility which leads to an easier and potentially faster labor.
- It is a total body exercise – it’s great for your heart, but really is excellent for your whole body.
- Walking can lower the risk of pre-eclampsia, but primarily through maintaining a healthy weight and cholestorol levels – so only when used regularly throughout your pregnancy (source).
- It will release nature’s feel-good hormones, endorphins. Walking can help balance mood and stress – Lord knows pregnant women need some of that!
4. Do gentle exercises.
Walking and frequent, gentle exercise are great for pregnant women to prepare for labor.
But, maybe you’re like I was and walking is painful. My SPD made going for walks nearly impossible – it just hurt too badly!
Here are some other ideas to get in intentional movement every day:
- MommaStrong workouts: daily 15 minute exercises designed for moms-to-be, postpartum moms and beyond. It’s only $5 a month, check it out.
- Swimming (feel light as a feather again, ahhhh).
- Prenatal yoga and Tai Chi.
Favorite Free Videos for Prenatal Exercise:
- I used this video constantly throughout my first pregnancy. These stretches felt sooo good.
- This video was especially helpful for flexibility and working through hip pain, I often would do this video alongside the above stretching video.
- Mama Natural’s video, 7 Easy Exercises for an Optimal Pregnancy & Labor, is another great resource.
- Spinning Babies offers weekly and daily exercises for pregnant women.
5. Go to the chiropractor
Caveat: Please, please PLEASE talk to your OB/GYN or midwife before seeing a chiropractor. While there are some good ones out there, there can also be some really NOT good ones. Get approval and a recommendation first.
Roughly 50% of pregnant women will experience back, hip or pelvic pain at some point before delivery. Chiropractic adjustments have been proven to relieve that pain.
Getting a chiropractic adjustment has proven to be safe and effective for pregnant women.
Some of the benefits of receiving chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy:
- A properly aligned pelvis allows for more room for baby during pregnancy
- Faster and easier labor and delivery due to correct pelvic alignment
- Pain relief for aching hips and back
See Healthline’s Article on Seeing a Chiropractor While Pregnant.
6. Eat like an athlete to prepare for labor.
If you’re serious about preparing your body for labor, get serious about eating right.
Your body needs to be fueled with proper nutrition to truly thrive. Eating well during pregnancy can help with overall well-being (more energy, better mood, less fatigue) but is especially important to prepare for labor.
Trim Healthy Mama is one of the best “diets” out there for pregnant women.
Trim Healthy Mama is a smart way of eating that includes all food groups and focuses on maintaining a steady weight and stable blood sugar levels.
In a nutshell, to eat the THM way for weight loss, you separate carbs and fats at meals while avoiding foods that spike blood sugar levels (white potatoes, white bread/flour/pasta, and sugar).
Eating with the Trim Healthy Mama plan while pregnant or nursing is a little different in that you can eat carbs and fats together in meals to support a healthy weight, and, later, milk supply.
See the book Trim Healthy Mama Plan for more information.
7. Do perineal massage.
Alright, I’ll be up front right off the bat: not all medical providers agree that perineal massage is overly effective.
If you’re up for trying it – great! If not, don’t stress it.
Some quick stats about using perineal massage to prepare for labor:
- Roughly 1 in 15 women who do perineal massage won’t need an episiotomy (surgical cut of the perineum) or have a tear so bad that it needs stitches.
- Even if you still end up tearing after doing perineal massage during pregnancy, one study found that it reduces the need for stitches after tearing by 10%. So, basically, if you do tear, it won’t be as bad of a tear.
You can read more about how to do perineal massage and its benefits on Healthline.com.
What Natural Methods NOT to Use to Prepare for Labor
A quick word of caution against evening primrose oil and other vaginal suppositories…
In the natural living community, there is a good deal of talk and advice about inserting things into the vagina for cervix ripening and/or labor induction.
My two cents? Do NOT insert anything into your vagina – especially as you get close to giving birth.
Our bodies know exactly what to do and when to do it! Your baby will come when he/she and your body are ready. No questions asked.
The methods mentioned above are designed to prepare your body FOR labor, not to induce labor. Major difference.
Be careful with what you try at home and please talk to your medical provider about everything you’re doing to prepare your body for labor (even the supposedly beneficial/harmless things like daily walks!).
What did YOU do to prepare for labor? Share in the comments!
June could talk to you all day about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with five kids, doesn’t happen very often.