The Top Ten Natural Must-Haves for Pre-Labour Prep.
Approaching the last month of my pregnancy I’ve realised there’s a few things I’ve gone straight back to without hesitation: Herbal, nutritional and physical factors I incorporated into my previous pregnancy.. Why? Because my previous pregnancy was as smooth as a baby’s bum! I’m not entirely certain if it was one particular factor or the combination that made it so, however I'm not going to risk finding out - I'll do it all again!
So here it is: What does a naturopath do to prepare for a
smooth labour and recovery?
As every body is uniquely special in developing and recovering in its own way, these tips may not apply to you and your needs. This is my personal journey of what my body needed then and perhaps again now to get ready for the transition of birth. Note: Always check with your local health practitioner before taking supplements or herbs during pregnancy.
Raspberry leaf tea: There is plenty of scientific research into the benefits of using raspberry leaf tea during the last month of pregnancy. Not only is it rich in iron but it also helps to tone the uterus wall… the stronger the uterus is - the easier it is to contract, push and bounce back to it’s original shape (almost ;)) I aim for 6 cups per day, often combined with other herbs: last pregnancy was during the heat of summer so I used peppermint for it’s cooling action, as well as Nettle for added iron. This time round it’s ginger and shatavari to promote warmth and to boost my libido.
Dates: Fresh is best, but currently not available so dried it is - 6 per day (too easy). Dates are a great source of fibre to help keep bowel movements regular and prevent unwanted pushing and strain caused from constipation. They also produce an oxytocin-like effect to help soften the cervix while feeling loved-up at the same time! Keep in mind they are actually incredibly delicious and there’s plenty of ways to incorporate them into your life, whether it’s snacking on them straight, combining them into bliss-balls or throwing them into your morning oats.
Oats: Speaking of oats, I usually tend to keep these a staple in my diet because of their rich benefits on the nervous and digestive system. They also help with the production of breastmilk so ideal if you’re planning to breastfeed once baby arrives. Easily digested and a good source of iron, magnesium and B vitamins to keep energy levels up and stress down.
Activated B Vitamins: Again, these are something I tend to keep on hand at all times incase of high stress, feeling rundown or fatigued. I used an activated form as I have a gene variant that reduces my capacity to metabolise folate properly. The folate in this particular brand meets the recommended intake of folate during pregnancy, however it’s in a form that is more absorbable for me… This may not be for everyone and cause hyperactivity and/or anxiety for some.
Iron: I’m taking iron in the form of supplementation as my diet is mostly of fish and plant based foods and recent pathology tests have indicated my levels are sub-optimal. The third trimester in particular is important for adequate iron to prepare for the amount of blood loss during labour and postpartum, keep energy levels up and anxiety down. I go for an iron glycinate as it is more easily absorbed and doesn’t cause constipation like some supplements containing iron ferric or ferrous sulfate. This particular practitioner-only brand also contains ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to help with the absorption of iron.
Celloids SCF: A low-dose Silica, calcium fluoride supplement to help with connective tissue. Two reasons I take this: 1. Hereditary history of varicose veins that worsens during pregnancy. 2. The uterus wall is made up of connective tissue. For elasticity and flexibility for both of these areas to grow and stretch and return to normal size, these nutrients are useful!
Coconut oil: A must have for a stretching belly! If not coconut, any form of raw or cold-pressed nuts. I’m nearly out of my own coconut oil that I cold-pressed myself while living in Fiji and had an abundance of coconuts on my doorstep… so now awaiting a supply of local macadamias to press and infuse with lavender. Lavender is great for preventing scaring or even reducing the appearance of previous scaring. My last pregnancy I used a few drops lavender essential oil into coconut oil for this reason.
Yoga. Although a regular practise regardless of baby or not, during this time of the pregnancy I focus more on hip openers, as well as strengthening my gluts and back. Taking on the forward weight of an expanding belly puts pressure on the back. A helpful way to combat back pain during pregnancy is by keeping the supporting muscles toned and strong enough to carry this weight. If breastfeeding is on the cards, strong back muscles are also helpful to prevent backache from constant feeding.
Sex. A number of benefits come from having sex, however there’s three in particular that are extremely beneficial during this stage of pregnancy: 1. Boosting oxytocin, the natural love and bonding hormone produced during sex and labour - this helps to soften the cervix to get ready for a smooth transition. 2. Massaging the perineal area to help stretch and soften the skin to prevent tearing during labour. 3. Keeping a strong connection with my partner - love and affection during a transitional period helps to keep stress and anxiety down and the relationship strong.
Probiotics: In particular Bifidobacterium longum, lactis and infantis strains, as well as Lactobacillus rhamnosus and casei strains. Research into the benefits of these strains for the prevention of allergies and eczema as well as supporting immune function in infants is plentiful. Bacteria strains take a number of weeks to colonise efficiently (with a variation of dietary prebiotics to feed them needed too), but will then be passed through to Bub during a natural vaginal delivery and/or via breastmilk.
11. (Added tip) Visualisation: This works… What you focus on is likely what you attract. Saying that, it’s important to be open to any scenario, however visualising how the birthing event takes place will not only encourage a positive mindset, but will also make you think of any small details that perhaps haven’t crossed your mind yet - what music do you want to give birth to? What’s the smell in the room? Can the lights be dimmed? Research shows that a calming environment can reduce the chances of complications during labour. What do you need to create that space?
So there you have it. My top ten tips - and my own personal must-haves for pre-labour. If you have any questions at all or want to add your own personal must-haves, please leave a comment below for others to benefit from. For more information or help during conception, pregnancy or labour, get in touch.
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lets see more positive birthing stories!
From me to you, take care.