First things first, I am not a doctor nor will I ever be. Please consult your doctor, OB and/or midwife for medical advice and before starting any new regimens.
I remember how daunting the thought of giving birth was with my first. And then after that experience how deflated I felt. With my second, I knew I wanted a different experience and since then have implemented the following to help with preparing my body for labor. Some, like red raspberry leaf tea, you may have heard of. Others may be new to you!
The following 8 tips and tricks to help prepare your body for labor are ones that were cleared for me by my team of midwives. You will notice castor oil is nowhere to be found – PLEASE DON’T DRINK CASTOR OIL TO INDUCE LABOR. It can be extremely dangerous for you and for your baby.
Another note and safety mention:
I don’t start any of these things until 37 weeks, at which point the medical community considers me “term”. However, I still consider at least 40 weeks to be actually term as there is so much development that happens during those last weeks. Those last few weeks are extremely uncomfortable, I know, but please don’t try and encourage labor until 1: your doctor gives you the okay, and 2: until you are full term.
And finally, remember that your baby will come when they are ready. I went to 41w6d with both my second and third births, despite having done everything right. My babies just like to hang out a little bit longer and that’s okay.
This tincture from Mountain Meadow Herbs is recommended for first-time birthing people. Take as directed on the bottle starting at 35 weeks. An important note: do not take this tincture and drink red raspberry leaf tea. Only do one or the other!
Gentle Birth Formula is a childbirth support tincture that was inspired by an old midwifery guide, where it was used to help prepare the mother for birth. This age-old recipe was used as a tea to tone the uterine muscles and has been tested and updated with current modern research to ensure the safety of all included herbs.
An easy to take and quickly absorbed liquid option, Gentle Birth Formula was created to help birthing people benefit from an easier, shorter, and more comfortable labor and delivery. Additionally, it is thought to help shorten recovery time.
How to take Mountain Meadow Herbs Gentle Birth Formula:
- Week 1: 1/4 tsp, before morning and evening meals
- Week 2-5: 1/4 tsp, 3 times daily before meals
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate hormone changes or the nervous system, eventually stimulating the uterus. Therefore, it may be effective in preparing your body for labor, especially for first-time mothers. Research indicates that fewer women using acupuncture required the use of induction methods.
Many changes have occurred with your body that can put a strain on your muscular-skeletal system, and realigning the pelvis can be incredibly important to aid in a smoother delivery. Chiropractic care may be a very useful tool to help bring the body back into alignment and help with the optimal positioning of your baby for birth.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea
The use of red raspberry leaf as a uterine tonic has been recommended for generations on the basis of traditional knowledge. Currently, the clinical evidence that red raspberry leaf tea will shorten and ease labor is sparse. However, some women state that they have found red raspberry leaf tea to be beneficial.
Directions for taking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea in your late third trimester:
My midwife suggests starting with one cup a day, beginning at 35-36 weeks. After a week, increase to twice a day. And then the next week increase to three cups of red raspberry leaf tea a day. I like to drink one with breakfast, one with lunch and one with dinner.
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is believed to be effective in softening the cervix. Although clinical evidence is still new and limited on proving whether evening primrose oil does this, it is still recommended based on the fact that it contains prostaglandins. EPO may be taken daily starting at 36-37 weeks. A recommended dose is 500 mg orally three times a day.
Want to know the easiest and possibly most effective thing you can do to help prepare your body for labor? Walking! So simple, yet low impact, and something anyone can do. Try to get out every day for a good walk, and make sure to bring water to stay hydrated! Staying active will be helpful once you go into labor, but make sure you’re balancing activity with rest. Curb walking is one of my midwives’ favorites once I hit full term!
This one is a twofer! Really, any sexual activity will do, but especially intercourse. Like I mentioned with the evening primrose oil above, semen contains prostaglandins, which soften the cervix. Any type of touching and loving will result in the release of oxytocin. And oxytocin both encourages contractions and is a great mental way to help with pain tolerance. So snuggle up! Or as my midwives like to say – the same way the baby got in there is the best way to get that baby out!
Exercise balls can provide a multitude of benefits all throughout your third trimester. Not only to prepare your body for labor but to provide relief and assistance during labor as well! It is thought that sitting on a birthing ball in certain positions prepares the body for labor by increasing blood flow, opening the pelvis, and encouraging dilation. Sitting in an upright position can also change your baby from a posterior position to an anterior position, which may also relieve back pain.
A few birthing ball exercises that may help to encourage and progress labor: circular hip rotations, rocking, and gentle bouncing.
Do you have any other suggestions for how to prep your body for a better labor and delivery during your third trimester? I’d love to hear about them below!