If you were getting ready to run a marathon would you prepare ahead of time?
If you were going to swim across lake Huron wouldn’t you want to be in your best possible health and fitness?
How about if you planned to bike your way down to Lansing, wouldn’t you like to make sure you could handle it before venturing out?
The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that women today are conditioned not to labor, but to be patients in a hospital bed. We are told our whole pregnancy long not to lift heavy objects, not to sit on the floor (surely you are not comfortable there), not to stand for too long, walk for too long, run too hard, ride a bike, and many other things… what exactly are we preparing for?
I want to state some important things before I move on. There are good reasons why the above mentioned things are cautioned against for pregnant women, and it isn’t a good idea to decide on a whim in your third trimester to go bike riding when you have not been out on a bike in years, but within reason you are able to do exercises and should be encouraged to do so with less caution and more enthusiasm.
Labor last an undetermined amount of time, a time period where your body will be using up a lot of calories and burning a lot of energy, and once you enter the hospital setting you are no longer allowed to eat a substantial meal, or drink more than a few sips of water at a time. We would not do this to our top athletes, why should we do it to mothers? There are real risks for moms if they are for any reason given a c-section under general anesthesia, but the chances of that are actually pretty slim and even if she has had nothing to eat precautions are still taken to ensure she will be safe during the operation.
When talking to other pregnant mothers I get some of the following responses in regards to preparation for labor, “I’d rather they just cut it out of me”, “Labor is too hard”, “I have not been doing anything to prepare, I’m just hoping for the best”, “I know what I’m doing, it will all work out”, “I plan to have an epidural, I wont need to prepare for the labor”, and there are so many others that I don’t even care to list.
Ladies, labor is WORK… yup you heard it here, the word ‘Labor’ is actually another word for ‘Work’! Imagine for a minute that a friend of yours who has been told not to life more than 15lbs for the last year, couldn’t walk more than a block without having an asthma attack and, who was overweight approached you and said “I’m going to run a marathon”. After being a bit confused you asked “when?” and they responded “I’m not really sure, sometime this month, I’ll know when it happens”… what advice would you give them?
Well my friend… you’ve probably been told not to lift too much, you probably run out of air (due to hormones, a baby kicking your lungs, and a blood volume change), and have gained a significant amount of weight during pregnancy (all of which I hope was necessary for the growth of your healthy baby) putting extra stress on your body, and you 8 months ago (in this scene) got pregnant, and now sometime this month you’ll be running your own marathon, laboring down, working out your whole body and then using muscles you either didn’t know you had, or had forgotten about since your last birth, and have you done your body any favors in preparation for the hard work ahead of you?
I’m not pointing fingers at anyone, I feel incredibly guilty knowing that my first pregnancy I wasn’t told how hard it would be and that preparing ahead of time was actually not a recommendation but a requirement, and in my second pregnancy I lost steam toward the end and gave up in the beginning due to morning sickness, so regardless of my knowing how hard labor would be I did very little to prepare for it. But I’m changing things this time, and I hope you will join me!
This is my plan, it’s easy, it is free, and it doesn’t take much time or thought.
Walk!!! yes, I’m taking walks when the weather permits, and staying hydrated while going on these walks.
Squat!!! This one I started in the first trimester, honestly how easy is it to squat instead of sit on the floor in front of the toilet any of the many times I puked during that first three months? Easy. Now headed toward the third trimester I squat when I pick up toys (instead of bending at the waist I bend at the knees and hips to reach those pesky things all over my living room) and when I’m cooking and need something from a lower cabinet or shelf, I squat. I squat when I unload the dryer. I squat any time I have a chance.
Sit on the floor. yup, doesn’t sound like exercise, but think about how much harder it is to get off the floor than your couch.. extra muscle usage! It also improves your posture and helps encourage a baby who might otherwise like to ride high in your uterus to come down lower. And bonus if you sit in the butterfly position (feet together, knees spread, bringing your feet as close to your pelvis as is comfortable and your knees as low as you can).
Wiggle. There are lots of helpful places to wiggle. When you are getting dressed in the evening or morning wiggle those hips around, do a few circles or even some belly dancing, it is fun, and it helps open your pelvis and strengthen the muscles surrounding it. You can also benefit from wiggling on the toilet… it helps to empty the bladder, re-leaving that uncomfortable urge to pee right after standing up from using the toilet.
Breathing. sounds easy enough, but if you think about how winded you might be after climbing a flight of stairs when your baby is kicking your lungs this could help. Find a place to sit or lay down and practice breathing in ways that will help the oxygen return as fast and as calmly as possible to those places in your body that feel taxed by your sudden lightheaded feeling.
and last but not least and to be taken with seriousness
Sleep. NO you should NOT be sleeping your days away, but if you are tired go grab yourself a glass of water and curl up somewhere comfortable and sip the water until you feel rested or until you’ve actually gotten a nap. If you are tired and push yourself it really wont help anyone, not you, not your baby, and not those who have to deal with the grumpy version of you later on. I do say this cautiously though, if you are not tired don’t sleep… if you are, sleep… easy as that, just don’t be lazy or overly active when you need to be the opposite.
I hope some of this make sense to you, and that it will help you prepare for the birth of your child.
have a CHERISHED birth!