Labor can be a long and stressful process for any woman bringing a child into the world, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are several activities that a woman can participate in during pregnancy to prepare her body for labor. Janna Morgan, alumni of Illinois Weslyan Nursing School and registered nurse with a specialty in critical and intensive care shares with us her expertise on how expecting mothers can prepare for delivery while pregnant.
1. Practice rhythm breathing
Rhythmic breathing is the best way to reduce the pain associated with contractions during labor and it is best to practice this type of breathing to perfect it before labor begins. “Couples should take a class on rhythmic breathing and practice together at home to not only build intimacy between each other but to also serve as a support system,” said Morgan. Learning how to focus on the breath in the height of a contraction will reduce the awareness of pain and allow the body to do its natural work.
2. Exercise and diet well
Exercising during pregnancy prepares the body for the stress of labor. The legs will take center stage during labor while being held back and out of the way to facilitate the safe passage of the baby from the vaginal canal. “Strengthening and stretching the muscles in the legs will help with being able to hold the legs in place without exhausting too much energy.” Morgan suggests using yoga and Pilates during pregnancy as a great way to increase flexibility and build lean muscle tone. “Maintaining a healthy diet is also pertinent to the healthy development of the baby as well as in keeping energy levels for the mom at an adequate level.”
3. Massage the vaginal opening
Morgan advises “Using mineral oil to massage the vaginal opening is a great way to stretch the opening to reduce tearing and to avoid the need for an episiotomy.” She recommends that couples participate in this massage together to increase intimacy and to ensure that the massage is performed properly. By placing the oil on the index and middle fingers and holding them close together, the expecting mother or her partner can massage the very opening of the vagina, stretching as he/she goes along. Doing this massage twice daily during the duration of the pregnancy will increase elasticity in the vaginal opening.
“Mothers who prepare for delivery while pregnant have successful deliveries that are less painful and require less time in the hospital than most,” Morgan stated. “By being aware of the body and preparing it for the major job ahead of bringing a life into the world, the process becomes a lot more tolerable.”
Visit the BlackDoctor.org Healthy Pregnancy center for more articles.