It might just be luck, but I had such a great labor experience! I spent a ton of time researching ways to prepare for labor and they really proved beneficial. With that being said, sometimes things come up that we can not plan for. Your labor story might be completely different than mine. You might try these things and they might not work for you. I am just sharing what I did for my first pregnancy and it seemed to help so much that I will definitely be doing them again for our second!
I cannot say this enough. YOU NEED TO WORKOUT WHILE YOU ARE PREGNANT! At least 5 days a week you need to do something active. I know a lot of times throughout pregnancy we feel tired and lousy and the last thing we want to do is workout, but it will make you feel so much better in the long run! Having a strong heart and strong muscles will make pushing feel easier and in many cases go faster!
I knew that labor was going to be very intense. As with any race or major physical event in life, I decided I needed to "train" for labor. I decided I would take those nine months to prepare my body.
There are many prenatal workouts that you can do. Swimming and walking are great options! I bought a membership to Beachbody on Demand and loved it! If you haven't heard of it, it is basically a "Netflix of workout programs". I highly recommend it! There are a couple of different programs they offer that are specifically designed for each trimester.
Make sure you check with your doctor before you start working out!
2. Educate Yourself
There are so many resources out there to help you learn more and prepare for labor. Many hospitals offer childbirth classes. My husband and I bought an online birthing class through Lamaze. It was so helpful that it was online and we could do it when we had time. It was very outdated and definitely not enjoyable. I think that there are other programs out there though that would be better. There are a TON of videos on Youtube for free that we found very helpful! I LOVED watching Sarah Lavonne's childbirth videos. She is a doula and is so knowledge and fun to watch! Another doula I found very helpful on Youtube is Bridget Teyler. I learned so much from both of these women and highly recommend them to every first time mother!
3. Perineal Massage
I had multiple people tell me that this really made a difference in their labor experience. I did some research to see if it was worth it. I read multiple articles and watched multiple videos to teach myself how to do it properly. Starting around week 35, I tried to do these massages 4-5 times a week. The female body is complex and I am not sure that I was doing it completely correct, but I told myself a little is better than none at all. It was not painful, but not comfortable. I would break 1-2 Vitamin E capsules and use it as a lubricant for the massage. You can also use coconut oil.
4. Evening Primrose Oil
Make sure you talk with your doctor about this one too. Some say that it can help induce labor naturally. I started taking it to prepare my uterus for labor. They also say that it can start thinning your cervix in preparing your body for labor. Evening Primrose Oil is something that I started taking orally and used vaginally at 36 weeks. Sometimes I would break the capsule open and use this for my perineal massage. Again, make sure you talk to your provider as this might not be safe for everybody.
5. Eating Dates
I had never eaten dates before in my life, until I was 35 weeks pregnant. I had read in multiple places that dates help prepare our bodies for labor. They can aide in a natural induction for us and ripen our cervix, getting it ready for birth.
I thought they are healthy and decently inexpensive so why not give them a try. I ate six dates a day. Unfortunately, I didn't love them, but I made myself eat them. I would eat 2 at a time three times throughout the day. They also aided in constipation and energy! This is definitely something you should try out!
6. Raspberry Leaf Tea
During the last trimester, I started drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. This tea can strengthen the uterine wall and decrease labor time. I I drank 1-2 cups a day, but they say you can drink 1-3 cups. Many people start drinking Red Raspberry Leaf tea during their second trimester.