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Preparing Your Body for Labour – How Exercise, Rest and Acupuncture Help . . .

As a patient of mine put it, there’s a reason it’s called ‘labour’ and not a ‘walk in the park’.

While it may be the shortest phase in the pregnancy, labour is likely to be the most overwhelming experience for a pregnant woman. Nonetheless, it is entirely possible for a woman and her care team to minimise the effort and pain of natural childbirth.

Labour will normally begin only when the body is ready and prepared. But you can help Nature on its course. Preparation should be undertaken prior to and throughout pregnancy and especially in the last few weeks before the due date. Here are a few tips and tricks.

Pelvic floor exercises: Delivering a baby uses a group of muscles called the pelvic floor muscles. These are usually only used when urinating, during bowel movements or when controlling the occurrence of either. Like most muscles, the pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened through exercise. Pelvic floor exercise will help prepare your body to push your baby out. The most common pelvic floor exercise is called a kegel. Click here for a guide.

Be healthy and rested: Before beginning your labour you want to be as healthy and rested as possible. This means:

Getting lots of sleep. Sleep is essential to having the stamina to last through what could be a long labour. Besides, once you have your baby you may not get as much sleep so it is a good idea to take advantage of your Z time now.

Eating right. Though many women tend to give way to cravings during pregnancy, having a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do to prepare your body for labour. Proper nutrition will give you strong healthy tissue that is less likely to stress during labour, strong healthy muscles that are ready to push and finally the energy to get the job done. In the last few weeks of your pregnancy, eat fresh pineapple for an enzyme that helps ripen the cervix for labour.

Acupressure for Pain Relief: In my clinic during pre-birth acupuncture treatments, I introduce women and their partners to acupressure to promote dilation and for pain-relief in labour. These points are easy to use and easy to find, and can be applied by the woman or her partner approaching and during labour. For a free booklet with more information on these acupressure points, click here.

Pre-birth Acupuncture: Acupuncture once a week from around Week 37 until labour will help to prepare the mother for childbirth. Research has shown that pre-birth acupuncture, or ‘Cervical Ripening’, offers reduced time spent in labour, and a reduced rate of medical intervention (such as epidurals, caesareans and syntocinon). The purpose of this gentle treatment is to work with the mother’s body in order to prepare the woman for the most efficient labour physically and emotionally, to help the baby become engaged in a favourable position within the pelvis and for the cervix to gradually soften and dilate. Thus the treatments works to ease delivery.

Posted by Niall O’Leary

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