You should be doing three things, starting at 26 or 30 weeks latest, to get ready for labor. Those three things are exercises, herbal solutions, and diet changes that prepare your body for the easiest labor possible.
Of course, you should also be preparing materially and emotionally for the baby. My suggestion is to have all of baby’s material needs done by week 30. Early? Maybe. But you need the next 10 (or more, or less) weeks to focus on yourself emotionally and physically. Below, I cover the physical musts for natural labor preparation. But, take time (I mean days and weeks) ensuring you are emotionally ready for the undertaking and blessing of becoming mother, even if this isn’t your first time. Mothering is a total sacrifice and outpouring of one’s self. Pour back in now.
The best list of exercises is this one by Spinning Babies. You can even purchase an online or hard copy DVD. These should start before week 28.
You want to incorporate body weight exercises including squats and lunges, as well as daily stretching. Spinning Babies also suggests walking daily, up to 3 miles.
You absolutely can harm your baby and damage your uterus overexercising. Take it easy.
Herbal Solutions for Labor Preparation
Red raspberry leaf tea and tincture is a must. Start this one by 32 weeks, though its safe to take throughout your pregnancy as a tea.
Evening primrose oil is taken daily by 36 weeks to ripen the cervix.
My other herbal suggestions are coming from Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year. You can find this online for $15 or less, and you are lost in the herbal labor world without it. Get it. My suggestions below are 1/50th of what is included in this book covering fertility, to pregnancy, to labor, to postpartum, to breastfeeding, to newborn care.
The below tinctures I am keeping on hand for birth. You will likely find many more in the book you also wish to have. Regardless, it’s a good idea to be herbally prepared for labor.
Skullcap for pain relief.
Ginger (or ginseng) root for energy during labor.
Blue cohosh for getting labor started or picking it back up, and well, everything labor related.
Birthroot, also called bethroot or white trillium root, for starting or strengthening uterine contractions.
Lobelia is another ancient birth herb, used for rigid os, vagina, rim or perineal, or shock.
Angelica in case of an adhered placenta.
Lady’s Mantle as a blood coagulant.
Shepherd’s Purse to stop a hemorrhage.
You can also purchase a Birth Prep herbal capsule, such as Dr. Christopher’s. This starts 6 weeks before delivery.
In a future article, I will cover herbal remedies for labor, birth, and postpartum extensively.
So what should your labor prep diet look like?
It should look like….
A low insulin diet, including low sugar, and zero processed sugar, and low whole, sprouted grains while totally avoiding white, processed grains. Research has shown that processed sugars in the body block oxytocin and prostaglandin receptors, leading to more painful labors. From at least 35-6 weeks on, skip processed sugars and grains of all types, and even limit natural sugars (fruit, honey, molasses, maple syrup) and natural, sprouted grains. This diet is called the Louwen Diet, by German Doctor Louwen. Read more about it here.
high protein and good fats. Your body requires protein to make oxytocin. Especially omega 3 and 6.
raw milk (by the gallon!). Bioavailable calcium has shown to decrease childbirth pain also. Aim to drink 2-4 glasses of raw (organic, pastured) milk daily. This doesn’t work for pasteurized milk, for which the enzymes needed to digest the milk and calcium are missing.
enzymes (purchased supplements, or raw papaya or pineapple) and essential fatty acids. Read more about how your hormones and these substances play an important role in a healthy labor here.
dates the week of (or two weeks before) delivery. They contain everything listed above!
the herbal suggestions above
plenty of water (at least a gallon a day, electrolytes added during labor)
So there you have it. The essentials for a healthy labor, that is quick, painless, and emotionally sound. The wonderful thing about labor, about your body, about nature, is that you have the tools to control it.
So do so.