Childbirth is a very natural process and a woman’s body is designed to give birth. Therefore, most of the doctors suggest vaginal delivery owing to its many health benefits for both the child and the mother.
Most of the women wish to have a natural childbirth except in some cases where women go through the C-section either because they are of afraid of the labor pain or they were recommended a C-section by a doctor only for commercial reasons.
Nevertheless, it is evident that a normal delivery is the best way to give birth.
But, since, pregnancy has the potential to put the strain on the human body, there are chances that you could face some complications forcing medical intervention in the form of C- section, in which case, it becomes unavoidable.
So, what can you do to prevent those complications and give birth naturally to a healthy baby?
Based on our research, you could follow the below tips which are a mix of living a healthy lifestyle, following a diet, dealing with stress, and getting the necessary education & support to prepare yourself to achieve a normal delivery.
Exercise for Normal Delivery
Proper development of a baby depends a lot on the mother’s physical fitness. Exercising during pregnancy helps increase blood supply to your lower body and improves flexibility of pelvic joints and thigh muscles, thus facilitating a shorter and less painful normal delivery.
What’s more? Exercising also helps turn a breech fetal position into normal position.
#1. Stay Active
Here are some exercises that you can do to stay active during those nine months
Walking during pregnancy is a safe and complete body exercise regime. It enhances your cardiovascular health, increases flexibility and tones your hip muscles, preparing you for labor and normal childbirth.
Besides reducing stress, walking also lowers risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and other complications.
- As per NHS guidelines, pregnant women should walk for 150 minutes a week in pregnancy, which is a 30-minute walk, five times a week.
- Wear comfortable jogging shoes that support your arches and ankles. Steer clear of slippers or sandals for walking as they can make you trip.
- While walking, you may feel dehydrated due to increased body temperature. Since dehydration is unsafe for you and your growing baby, carry a water bottle.
2. Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are effective in strengthening pelvic floor muscles around uterus, bladder, urethra and rectum, thus helping you during labor and childbirth. Furthermore, these exercises also help prevent or cure hemorrhoids and incontinence.
- Sit with your legs crossed and take a deep breath.
- Begin with an empty bladder and imagine that you’re trying to stop yourself from urinating or passing gas. You will feel your vagina lift and squeeze.
- Make sure that you aren’t holding your breath, pulling in your tummy or tightening your hips while performing this exercise.
- Hold on to this position for a few seconds and then release. Relax for another few seconds and then repeat the process.
- Alternatively, you can also think that you’re sitting on a floor and trying to pull it up into your vagina.
- You can also try this exercise during a sexual intercourse.
- Do not practice this exercise when you are actually urinating.
3. Cycling Indoors
Indoor cycling on a stationary cycle is great during pregnancy as it doesn’t put pressure on your joints and doesn’t even require balancing. Besides, it helps you stay active and tone your muscles, thus making labor and childbirth easier and faster because your body is already prepared for the stress required to give birth.
- Wear comfortable and breathable clothing. Stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before the exercise.
- Keep the speed and intensity of your cycling sessions low so that your heart beat stays below 140 per minute.
- Divide your cycling sessions evenly throughout the week.
- In case you notice bleeding, chest pain, dizziness, contractions or other signs, stop right away and contact your doctor immediately.
Squatting is one of effective exercises for developing lower body strength. Expecting women can incorporate squats into their weekly exercise routine. Squatting will help open the pelvis and move your baby into the best birthing position. It will also strengthen your leg muscles.
- Stand facing a wall, with your feet spread wide apart and back straight.
- Keep your arms extended in front of you and lower yourself slowly by bending your knees outwards. Alternatively, you can also cross your arms at the shoulder position.
- Hold this position for six seconds and slowly push up to get back into the standing position.
- Repeat the whole process 5 times.
Stretching during pregnancy helps you loosen up tight muscles and relieves pregnancy aches and pains. It also improves your body’s movements and prepares you for strenuous childbirth.
- Stretching without a warm up session can lead to injury. Warm up for ten minutes by performing alternative knee raises or brisk walking.
- Sit on all fours. Begin by rolling your belly a little bit inside, such that your back is raised in an arch position. Inhale as you raise your back and hold on for a few seconds.
- Next, roll your belly out, such that your back forms a curve. Inhale as you curve your back.
- In the same position, move your pelvis from right to left as much as you can.
- Relax for a few seconds and repeat the process.
- This is back stretching. Similarly, you can perform neck, shoulder, chest, hips, legs and abdomen stretching.
Since abdominal muscles undergo a lot of stretching during pregnancy in order to make space for a growing fetus, it is essential to keep them in shape. These exercises also strengthen your pelvic muscles and improve your control during labor.
Besides, strong core eases lower backache and speeds up recovery post childbirth. One such abdominals exercise which you can try to stay active and to build core strength is standing crunches.
- To perform standing crunches, stand tall with your feet spread wide apart.
- Pull your back straight up so that your belly is drawn into your spine and your pelvis tucked gently.
- Next, place your arms behind your head. Now move forward and squeeze your abdominal muscles up till you find it comfortable. Make sure not to squeeze too hard as now you have a growing fetus inside of you.
- Release slowly by expanding back up and relax for a few seconds. Repeat this process 2-3 times.
- Similarly, with your arms pulled back up behind your head, you can also perform the bicycle crunch.
- Pull your right knee up across the opposite (left elbow). Next, pull your left knee up across the opposite (right elbow).
- Repeat the process 9-10 times.
Swimming is considered one of the best exercises during pregnancy as it supports your additional baby weight, making you feel as light as a feather. Besides, it also strengthens your muscles, reduces inflammation, promotes sleep and builds endurance.
Tip: Make sure that the pool is chlorine-free and the water no warmer than 32 degree celsius.
Note: Please make sure that you get a green signal from your doctor before performing any of the above mentioned exercises and take professional guidance if necessary.
#2. Practice Prenatal Yoga
Yoga is good for expecting moms as it leads to increased sleep, reduced stress, and improvement in strength, flexibility & endurance of muscles needed for delivery.
Besides, yoga may also help relieve common pregnancy discomforts like nausea, lower backache, headaches, insomnia, and shortness of breath. So, if normal delivery is your goal, yoga is one thing you need to practice daily.
Here are some yoga asanas beneficial for expecting moms
- Vakrasna (Twisted pose)
- Konasana (Angle pose)
- Yastikasana (Stick pose)
- Parvatasana (Mountain pose)
- Hast Panangustasana (Extended hand to big toe pose)
- Bhadrasana (Butterfly pose)
- Utkatasana (Chair pose)
Safety tip: Avoid positions that cause you to overstretch or overbalance. Don’t practice yoga or any other physical exercises without the proper guidance of a professional.
#3. Avoid Excessive Weight Gain
A common misconception amongst pregnant women is that they must gain a good amount of weight during their nine months. However, the recommended weight gain for pregnant women is as follows:
- Recommended weight gain for women with average weight – 11.5 kg to 16 kg
- Recommended weight gain for underweight women – 12.5 kg to 18 kg
- Recommended weight gain for overweight women – 7 kg to 11.5 kg
Anything beyond this normal range of weight gain would be considered an excessive weight gain and can make it problematic to monitor the baby during labor, thus making normal delivery difficult.
Moreover, if you are considerably overweight, the chances are high that your baby will be big too, which may be a concern during labor and childbirth.
#4. Practice Perineal Massage
Regular perineal massages after the seventh month will prepare your body for a strenuous labour and childbirth. It will help increase elasticity and reduce the risk of tearing of your perineum during delivery.
The perineum is the area between the vaginal opening and anus. A number of expecting women choose to avoid the risk of perineal trauma by practicing this technique.
Diet for Normal Delivery
#5. Follow a Healthy Diet
The importance of a healthy diet cannot be stressed enough during pregnancy. A proper diet can go a long way in
- giving your body necessary strength for overcoming labor challenges and having a comfortable normal delivery
- facilitating growth & development of the fetus
- ensuring that your baby copes well with the process of childbirth
The healthy diet is one that provides sufficient amount of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat, essential vitamins and minerals.
Simple carbohydrates provide energy but they don’t offer the required nutrition. On the other hand, Complex carbohydrates are packed with minerals, protein, and fiber. So, eat complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oats, whole grain bread/cereals/pasta, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and beans.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends between 75 and 100 grams of protein daily. So include proteins like lean meat, eggs, milk, yogurt, lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts in your diet.
You would need atleast 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day during pregnancy. You can get these from whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables.
There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats such as fried foods, saturated fats, trans fats should be avoided or consumed limitedly. Healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids) should be included in your diet.
Examples of such healthy fats are walnuts, avocados, roasted pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish.
Please note that pregnant women are generally advised to limit their seafood intake to twice a week due to the mercury and other contaminants found in fatty fish.
Although iron is found in many foods, it is poorly absorbed, making it difficult for your body to meet its needs during pregnancy.
So, make sure that your diet is dense in iron by including iron rich foods daily such as leafy greens like spinach/kale, broccoli, green peas, dried fruits like apricots/raisins/figs, beans, eggs , strawberries, chicken, and fortified cereals.
Keep yourself hydrated by drinking a lot of water since increasing water intake will prevent dehydration, relieves constipation, and reduces the risk of urinary tract infections. Avoid caffeine drinks as they increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and can affect your baby’s nervous system development.
Note: Please consult your doctor for medical advice on what foods to eat, to avoid, and for a detailed nutritional chart to meet your needs.
No Stress During Pregnancy
Stress is going to be a regular guest during pregnancy, be it physically or emotionally. So, the better you manage your stress and the more at ease you are, the better you will be able to deal with the challenges of labor.
Importantly, you will learn to become calmer which will help to keep your muscles primed to push.
Here are a few tips that will help you to stay calm until the day of your labor and prepare you for a smooth normal delivery:
#6. Listen to Healing Music
Music is one of the best therapies for reducing stress during the course of pregnancy. Studies have proven that expecting women who listen to healing music around 30 minutes a day, are significantly less prone to anxiety, depression, and stress.
This includes nature sounds, classical music, children’s songs and lullabies. Additionally, soothing music is known to reduce pain responses during labor and childbirth. Try to avoid music that is too loud or disturbing.
#7. Read Positivity-infusing Books
Books are a great source of positivity during pregnancy, especially when you’re going to be spending the most of your time in bed. Remember, besides food and physical activity, your thoughts will also determine the qualities, attitudes, and behaviour of your baby.
Reading inspirational books will help you shape your thoughts to a large extent.
Here’s a list of 5 positivity-infusing books that you need to add to your shelf during those nine months:
- Bhagvad Gita
Filled with a lot of enlightening instances and wisdom, this sacred hindu book will surely leave you feeling more positive and and empowered. As a part of garbh sanskara (education in the womb), Gita will initiate character building in your baby.
Written by Dr.Gita Arjun, Passport to a Healthy Pregnancy is filled with numerous examples and detailed information on pregnancy. This pregnancy handbook has described a week by week growth of foetus, supported by ultrasound images.
It also contains information on topics like pregnancy counselling, checklist for pregnant women, role of new fathers and how to welcome a new baby home.
Written by Lalita Iyer, this book is as humorous and witty as its title.This raw and meaningful book depicts pregnancy from the viewpoint of the expecting woman. This book contains wonderfully described facts about pregnancy that are not generally talked about.
- Spiritual Pregnancy
Gopika Kapoor has woven magic in the form of this book, which talks about boosting your mind power and surrounding yourself with positive energy during pregnancy. This book also discusses various birth methods, with stories from real-life experiences.
- Ayurvedic Garbhsanskar
One of the most classical reads, this book talks about educating your baby to make him healthy & intelligent right in the womb. This book also encourages an expecting woman to strike a balance between yoga, diet, music, positive thinking, herbal remedies, and meditation to nurture the child within the womb.
#8. Enroll Yourself for Meditation
Meditation aims at increasing the life force in the body. It makes you emotionally stronger and prepares you for the upcoming labor and childbirth.
Various meditation practices that you can try during pregnancy are
- Deep belly meditation
This meditation involves relaxing yourself by bringing the attention to your belly as you inhale and exhale deeply. It helps maximize the flow of oxygen into your bloodstream, de-clutters your mind and helps you calm down.
- Vipassana meditation
Vipassana meditation increases awareness of your present state, thus helping you focus inwards, and on your immediate surroundings. It helps you see things as they really are.
- Walking meditation
Walking meditation is effective in relaxing your mind. Stroll around your preferred spot and focus on your breathing and speed. This can help you focus on your baby’s birth at the time of labour.
- Sound Meditation
Mantra or sound meditation is performed by chanting a specific sound or phrase such as “Om”, while focusing on your breath. It helps balance your body’s energy centres or chakras. Play a recorded chant while practicing this technique.
Tip: Various incredible apps like HeadSpace, Buddhify, Calm, Positive Pregnancy, Mind the Bump, and Expectful will help you practice the art of guided meditation effortlessly.
#9. Practice Breathing Techniques
During the process of childbirth, you will have to hold your breath from time to time. So you must begin practicing the breathing techniques right from your pregnancy. This will assist you in concentrating and performing better at the time of labour.
Breathing also controls stress and maintains energy level in one’s body. You can try various breathing practices like counted breathing, shallow breathing, alternate deep, shallow breathing, and so on.
#10. Maintain A Positive Outlook
How you feel during pregnancy is completely in your hands. Learning about someone’s pregnancy and delivery experience is good as long as it is encouraging and helpful.
Steer clear of any scary labour stories as they will rob you of your positive energy and peace of mind. Remember that each pregnancy is unique.
Here are 5 tips for staying positive during pregnancy
- Stay away from negative people or situations
- Write a journal and document all the changes in your body
- Pamper yourself with spa and pedicure rituals
- Speak to your partner or a friend about your emotional health
- Consult a psychologist in case you’re going through a tough time mentally
#11. Get A Good Night’s Rest
According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who slept fewer than six hours during the last month of pregnancy had Cesarean sections four times more frequently than women who slept seven hours or more.
So, expecting women must get at least 8-10 hours of undisturbed sleep.
- Make sure that your sleeping environment is peaceful, dimly lit, and free of clutter.
- Avoid drinking water, caffeine, tea or any other liquid at least two hours prior to bedtime so that you have undisturbed sleep.
- Eat foods such as milk & bananas as these foods contain the amino acid tryptophan that turns into mood soothing serotonin in the brain, ensuring better sleep.
- Use a pregnancy body pillow that will provide body support, relieve leg cramps, improve blood circulation, and help you snooze off peacefully. Alternatively, you can also place a regular pillow between your legs for a peaceful sleep.
- Ensure sleeping on your left side as this SOS (sleeping on your side) position increases the amount of blood flow to the placenta and your baby. Bend your knees and legs and place a pillow in between your legs.
Education and Support
Pregnancy education and counselling is essential for attaining the goal of normal delivery and healthy gestational weight gain. This education and support can be provided by your mother, physician, gynecologist or any experienced woman.
Alternatively, there are a few things I have shared below which you can do to empower yourself during those nine months.
#12. Enrol Yourself For Birthing Classes – Lamaze
When you are planning to go for a normal delivery, choosing to attend childbirth classes along with your partner is a great way to gather all the necessary information and lessen your anxiety.
Lamaze is one of the most popularly taught childbirth classes Internationally, including in India. Lamaze classes aim to boost a woman’s confidence in her ability to give birth naturally. The philosophy behind this type of childbirth is that women possess an inherent right to give birth without regular medical interventions.
However, Lamaze also educates expecting women so that when medical interventions are required and/or pain relief medication is preferred, women are able to provide true & conscious consent.
Some of the most common things covered in a Lamaze class are
- Natural & healthy labor and delivery (with the help videos of real births)
- How to be educated and active partakers in the birthing process
- Focused breathing practices for labor and other relaxation techniques like walking, massage, position changes, and hydrotherapy
- Potential problems during labor and birth, and their interventions
- Tips to guide your partner in supporting you during labor and childbirth
- Communicating with your physician so that your needs are met
- Epidurals and other alternatives for managing pain with medication
- Initial interaction with your baby
A regular Lamaze class comprises of around 12 hours of instruction and consists of up to 12 couples. Expecting women are suggested to begin a class around the onset of their seventh month of pregnancy.
For more information on where you can find a Lamaze class in your city, you can check Find A Lamaze ChildBirth Class
#13. Build A Support System
Having a support system of family and friends who encourage you throughout is very beneficial when you are planning to have a normal delivery.
Another way is to make a self help group of all other moms in your community going through the same phase and regularly communicate about your challenges and encourage each other.
Plan a girls’ day out with the community members and indulge yourself in a shopping spree or a pampering session at the salon. Do every bit to enjoy your pregnancy because when the baby arrives, you will not have a lot of spare time.
#14. Select Your Doctor Wisely
It is a disheartening reality that many doctors opt for convenience and hurry mothers into a Caesarean section. Therefore, it becomes vital to select such a doctor who will deliver the baby wisely and not just timely.
Ensure that your doctor and his clinic have a good rating and many cases of normal delivery. Don’t be hesitant in speaking to your doctor about his views on normal delivery.
Every pregnancy is different and at times, no matter how hard you try, C-section might be the only option. Remember, the best birthing process is the one that ensures your and the child’s safety and the way you deliver your child has nothing to do with your motherhood skills. Trust your doctor and let go of the need to be in charge all the time.
Were you blessed with a normal delivery? Don’t forget to share your tips with Baby Destination Moms.