So You're Pregnant! Congratulations! Delivery is coming soon and you have no idea how to prepare, right?
Well after you finish googling what to pack in your hospital bag, let's make the rest of your preparation really simple because nobody has time to read 100 blogs about how to have a healthy pregnancy and labor and then do what it tells you.
If you’ve been working out, keep going. Don’t drastically change what you’ve been doing. If you do spin class or Zumba, keep going. If you enjoy CrossFit or Orange Theory, awesome! If you don’t enjoy working out, that’s okay too. You can start with walking. Set a realistic goal for yourself. Maybe it’s 5 minutes on your lunch break or 10 minutes on the treadmill before dinner. Pregnancy is not the time to try out a crazy new workout routine. It’s a time to build consistency and listen to your body.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend 150 minutes of exercise per week. So you can break that up into 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. That should include a combination of aerobic activities and weight training. Aerobic activities include anything that increases your heart rate; walking, swimming, running, biking. Weight training can be weight lifting or body weight exercises such as squats.
Listen to your body! Dizziness or feeling lightheaded is a sign to slow down. Vaginal bleeding is not normal and may occur with high intensity exercise but always check with your doctor or midwife before starting any new exercise program or if you notice any unusual symptoms such as vaginal bleeding.
Your doctor may recommend that you not participate in certain activities based on your or your baby’s health. Working with a PT trained in pregnancy can help you stay active, safely in order to avoid bed rest.
You’re not eating for 2 so don’t drastically increase your intake, but do listen to your body. There’s no perfect “diet” for pregnancy but you do want to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients to help you and baby feel great during pregnancy. In general, eating whole, unprocessed foods will give you and baby better nutrition. This will reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. If you or your doctor have concerns about your blood pressure, ask for a referral to a dietician. They’ll be able to help you lower your blood pressure and feel better during your pregnancy.
Perineal massage can be very effective to desensitize the perineal body to prepare for a vaginal delivery. This is a small representation of what the “ring of fire” feels like and will help you understand that sensation and be able to relax and push your baby out without fear or tension. This reduces the risk of perineal tearing. Check out this free guide to learn more about perineal massage technique.
Diaphragmatic breathing is used during delivery to promote pelvic floor relaxation and vaginal opening. Diaphragmatic breathing can be completed in any position and should be practiced during pregnancy so that it will be an easy breathing pattern to find during labor.
If you’ve taken a labor/delivery class you’ve probably been introduced to a variety of positions for labor. In general, any position can be a laboring position. If it feels comfortable and helps you relax, try it out! There are positions that help your pelvis open and promote optimal positioning for the baby during labor. Positions for pushing can vary based on your body and your needs. If you’re interested in learning more about labor positions, set up a discovery call with Katy and learn how you can prepare by practicing positioning.
But what if I want an epidural?
Prepare your body! You’re still going to labor at least for a few hours without an epidural unless you’re induced and an epidural is immediately placed. But if you go into labor spontaneously you’ll be glad you were prepared. Diaphragmatic breathing and perineal massage can still be helpful to reduce tearing. You’ll most likely deliver in a dorsal lithotomy position (laying on your back with your legs up and supported) which can put more pressure on the perineal body. You won’t have the same feeling of the “ring of fire” during pushing but the babies’ head will be pressing on the perineal body and vaginal opening and learning to relax those muscles while pushing can reduce your risk for tearing or C-section.
I’m having a C-section. Should I do anything different?
Yes and no. You still should prepare your body by working out and eating healthy. Diaphragmatic breathing is still a great exercise that will help your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles with recovery after welcoming your new baby. You don’t need to perform a perineal massage since the baby won’t be coming through the vaginal canal. However, you will want to get with a pelvic health PT to discuss recovery and scar mobilization.
Want more guidance on getting ready for birth? Schedule a free discovery session with Katy and find out how we can help you feel your best during pregnancy and postpartum.