If you are pregnant and either in your third trimester or quickly approaching it, you're probably wondering what you can do to get ready for labor, stay healthy during your transition into motherhood, and to make sure the whole process moves along smoothly.
Prepping the uterus, cervix, and hips, as well as balancing hormones and calming any anxieties that may be present are all important parts of the holistic labor prep process, and I assist women through this process every day. With the proper support, you can do this and recover quickly. Let's talk about how.
I've designed my Pre-birth Protocol specifically for women about to deliver because I've found the combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and moxibustion (a Chinese medical heat therapy) is en effective treatment for prepping the body (uterus, cervix, hips, and position of fetus) for labor. Typically the birthing process is much smoother as a result.
Drink Raspberry Leaf Tea
Raspberry leaf tea is an excellent uterine tonic, it's a super safe herb with a neutral taste, and it does just about everything for uterine health.
It helps to tone uterine muscles in preparation for labor, as well repairing uterine tissue after labor, whether delivery was vaginal or surgical. I recommend my patients drink it daily starting in the third trimester and continue until until at least 3 months postpartum.
Like I said, the taste it pretty neutral, but if you don't love the taste then you can mix it with an herbal tea you enjoy, such as chamomile or ginger. Just avoid mint tea if you're breastfeeding or close to delivering, it can reduce milk supply
Eat Nutrient Dense & Blood Nourishing Foods
Obviously your body has higher demands for protein and nutrients during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby, especially in the third trimester. But you're also gearing up for labor and the postpartum period, and many women already tend towards anemia by the second trimester, so it's especially important to take this time to load up on all the nutrients you can.
- Eat plenty of blood nourishing foods:
- Dark leafy greens, brightly colored non-starchy veggies, beets, berries (especially goji berries)
- Grass-fed beef, lamb, liver, bone broth, eggs
- Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, oats, or barley
- Nutritional yeast or brewer's yeast
- Micro-algae, such as spirulina or chlorella
- A small amount of molasses and/or dates (dates especially are considered a natural remedy for labor prep)
- Enjoy mostly warm/cooked foods and room temp or warm beverages, avoid cold foods or drinks with ice in them, they drain energy from the body and may slow down digestion
- Stay hydrated
- Don't skip meals or go too long without eating, keep easy snacks and pre-made or batch-cooked meals on hand
- Keep protein levels up, especially if you are vegetarian or don’t eat much meat
Meditate or Practice Other De-stressing Techniques
Oxytocin, the feel-good hormone that gets labor started, works in opposition to cortisol, the stress hormone. If one goes high the other goes low, and vice versa. That means that stress must be low enough in order for labor get started and progress regularly. Especially if you're having a lot of fear or anxiety surrounding your upcoming birth, practicing meditation or hypnosis may be helpful to calm your mind.
If meditation is not your thing, that doesn't mean you can't still find a way to de-stress. Acupuncture, massage, or restorative yoga are all excellent ways to reduce cortisol levels. Or what about listening to some relaxing music, defusing essential oils, stretching or taking a bath? Even just alone time or some simple breathing exercises may help you to bring your cortisol levels down.
Walk it out
Walking is an excellent way to prepare for labor. It increases circulation, keeps your hips open and flexible, and as you get closer to labor, gravity naturally helps your baby to descend into the pelvis.
The pressure of your baby's head pressing down on your cervix helps effacement, or "ripening," to progress leading up to labor. In fact, many women use walking as a method to help labor get started, but waiting until your due date and then taking a stroll through your neighborhood is typically not enough to do the trick. It's usually recommended to walk daily throughout the third trimester.
Make sure you're cleared with your doctor to walk, as it's not appropriate for all conditions. For example, if you are put on bed rest then you obviously won't want to do laps around the block, but if you are cleared for walking, then usually 20-30 minutes daily is sufficient. If you're in a lot of pain or not feeling super mobile, acupuncture can treat pain, increase mobility, and get you moving more easily.