These are my tips on how I am prepping my mind & body for my second natural / epidural-free birth, including things that helped me last time during labor and delivery. PS: If you are planning on getting an epidural, these will still help you prep & cope!
1. Workout through pregnancy. As long as your doctor/midwife give you green light, working during your whole pregnancy will help you be strong for labor. Some studies even show that the fitness level of the mother can result in shorter labor, fewer medical interventions, and less exhaustion during labor. Being in shape will not decrease the pain, but it will def give you the endurance needed. Aside from some cardio (at a lower heart rate) and workouts, try including hip opening exercises, pilates, yoga and stretches! 2. Do pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy to strengthen the muscles, help you ease your baby out, and recover faster. I did not tear with Sofia's birth and I can guarantee this was a big part of the reason why. 3. Get empowered. Don't listen to scary stories, get empowered instead. What I learned through my first delivery is that, although it's a physical process, it's 90% your mindset that will control everything, especially if you are looking for an epidural-free & calm birth like me. Read empowering books & follow/surround yourself with empowering people and a team you truly trust! I recommend "Hypnobirthing" for a good read. Shop here. 4. Envision your delivery: realistically, but envision it and your body will take action. Of course, always understand unexpected things can happen. But always envision & project! 5. Be educated. Take some classes. It will make you feel "ready" and knowledgeable of the process. And knowledge is powerful. Can't attend classes now? Try online courses. I like Bundle Birth. She also offers refreshers for second time mamas, and private online classes. 6. If you truly want a drug-free labor, don't even think of an epidural option & make sure your team knows and partner can speak for you. I give birth out-of-the-hospital so I do not have the option, and it never came to my mind. That helped me keep focused. 7. Remember your affirmations + be present: Ride the wave. Breath through properly. Take it one contraction at a time (because every contraction closer to pushing DOES get more intense so dont think of the future). Your body is made for this! 8. Keep reminding yourself that you are doing this drug-free to LISTEN to what your body needs during all stages. Contractions & pain are your body's way of telling you exactly what to do, what position your baby needs you to be in, how to push.
9. If you can, be in a bath during labor: it was KEY to helping me cope with the pain, and it also will relax and open your muscles to also avoid tearing. I was in the bath for the WHOLE time
10. Ride the wave. Don't tense up and fight it. Let it take you to another world: after 7/8cm drug-free, you'll know what I am talking about.
11. Kick any negative thoughts out immediately by replacing them with a positive one. I am strong, I am doing this!
12. Have a great team that you trust and love. My midwifes were so supportive through the process and also KEY to helping me when to stop through the pushing so I would not tear. And that was key to a speedy postpartum recovery.
13. Drink Raspberry Tea Leaf during pregnancy after week 28, and through postpartum: to prep your uterus be strong for labor AND help it recover postpartum too. Shop here.
14. Make a basic (flexible) birth plan. Head to my blog to find a check-list on how to make one.
15. Plan for postpartum: this is SO important. I will make a post with details on how to do this!
And remember, regardless of what happens, even if it is not like you envisioned: you are there to meet your baby, it will be the BEST DAY EVER. Enjoy it and create a good memory. It's once in a lifetime!