Pregnancy guide > Your baby in pregnancy > Pregnancy health > Preparing your body for childbirth

Preparing your body for childbirth

What you can do to make sure you are as ready as possible for the big day.
With your baby's imminent arrival into the world fast approaching, you'll want to make sure you prepare yourself as much as you can for the new addition to your family. One of the ways you can do this is by preparing yourself physically for the experience of childbirth.

There are several things you can do to help you prepare your body for your baby's birth.

Stay active

By this we don't mean suddenly taking up an aerobics class or jogging to work - rather, you should practise regular gentle exercise in the run-up to your baby's birth. As well as building up your strength and endurance, it will keep your energy levels high and increase your flexibility. It will also release feel-good endorphins, making you feel positive about your pregnancy and the birthing experience.

Exercises you could try include the following:
  • Walking

  • Swimming

  • Yoga

  • Pilates
You may want to consider enrolling in a prenatal exercise program, as this will lend you valuable strength and endurance.

Make sure that you consult your doctor or healthcare professional before you attempt any exercise program and always ask your doctor if you are unsure about the safety of any exercises.

Get some practice

It may help you to practise some of the positions that you might find yourself in during labour. For example, you may like to try squatting or lying down in the 'recovery position' to test what this will feel like for you. It will also help if your partner can test the positions with you, to make you feel more prepared for the event itself.

You may also want to try perineal massage, which will prepare the tissue and muscles around your vagina for the birthing process. Gently massaging these tissues can help you get used to the feeling of your baby's head crowning during birth, and also help to speed the healing process after the birth, among other benefits.

Pelvic floor exercises also work in a similar way to perineal massage in that they help to prepare your pelvic muscles for birth, ensuring they are strong and flexible.

Keep yourself well-fed and hydrated

Eating well and staying hydrated during your pregnancy is essential.
  • Ensure that you eat a varied diet incorporating all of the major food groups.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.

  • Try to get lots of essential nutrients into your diet such as protein, iron, and calcium.

  • If you are early on in your pregnancy, it's recommended that you take a daily folic acid supplement.

  • Avoid fizzy drinks, alcohol, caffeine, and smoking, to ensure yours and baby's health is at its best.
Relax!

It may be difficult to relax if you are anxious about your baby's upcoming arrival, but remember that having a tension-free mind means that your body is also tension-free. And that means the birth is likely to go much more smoothly.
  • Try to get enough sleep and as much rest as possible.

  • You may find yoga or meditation classes helpful.

  • Practice breathing exercises.
It's vital that you are as well-rested as possible when the big day arrives, so that your energy levels stay high enough to see you through the experience.

Remember that the most important thing is to listen to your own body, and do what's right for you so that you feel prepared for the arrival of your little one.

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