Tips and tricks from real moms on how to prepare for labor. Because preparing for childbirth is unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
OK mama, this is it – the moment you’ve been waiting for is almost here.
After roughly nine months of feeling your little one grow and change inside you, you’re getting ready to prepare for childbirth and welcome them into the world.
You may be feeling a lot of things right now: impatience, excitement, and apprehension all rolled into one – as well as the odd Braxton Hicks contraction!
So let’s explore all you need to know about preparing for childbirth, along with tips from our moms of Peanut.
In this article: 📝
- How can I prepare my body for labor?
- How to mentally prepare for labor
- How can I make labor easier and faster?
- What week should I start preparing for labor?
- What should I prepare before giving birth?
- How (not) to prepare for labor
How can I prepare my body for labor?
It’s also worth preparing the… lower half of your body for what it’s got in store.
So here are a few tips on how to prepare your body for labor from our Peanut moms:
- “Keep an open mind, do your research thoroughly.” ‒ Vicky
- “Drink raspberry leaf tea to strengthen your uterus.” ‒ Tina
- “I ate dates, took primrose capsules, and did perineal massages. My labor was pretty long, but I pushed him out within like 10-15 minutes when the midwife said it might take up to an hour of pushing and I didn’t need any stitches.” ‒ Catalina
- “Do regular exercise to build up your strength and stamina as early as you can in pregnancy ‒ even beforehand.” ‒ Gina
- “I loved my prenatal yoga and I really think it helped with the birth as well as feeling good during my pregnancy.” ‒ Jesse
- “Listen to your body and stay active. Giving birth is difficult, but our bodies are made to do this! My husband always says that watching me give birth was like watching a wild animal acting completely on instinct.” ‒ Arielle
- “Walking and taking the stairs or going up hills. Honestly, I also masturbated a bit extra in the week prior and I do wonder in that helped me.” ‒ Jacki
- “Walking and stretching. When you’re more mobile and flexible you can get into different positions while laboring. It also helps in increasing your endurance so you can push longer. Just make sure you hydrate!” ‒ Andie
- “Do Kegels every day, walk, get on your hands and knees and do cat-cow breathing, bounce on a workout ball, eat spicy food.” ‒ Victoria
- “I used an Epino in the weeks leading up to the pregnancy. I did not tear, so I think it worked!” ‒ Jessica
- “I wish I would’ve brought that comb that all the ladies recommended, Pitocin does not play with the pain, and it would’ve been nice to have some other options.” ‒ Macey
- “I wish I knew how much it would hurt if I pushed too early (before fully dilated) because if your midwife doesn’t check and just trusts that you know what you’re doing (even if you are a first-time mama) and she encourages you too ‘push if it feels like you need to’, your cervix turns into rock and it hurts (A LOT) to have a doctor manually move it out of the way.” ‒ Belinda
- “I know that everyone says sleep but really do. You will get half a sleep when baby arrives.” ‒ Monika
How to mentally prepare for labor
Many of our Peanut moms have said that their birth experience was more a mental than a physical challenge.
Not that the physical side wasn’t tough, but that preparing their mind for what was going to happen helped them get through.
Here are their tips on how to mentally prepare for labor:
- “Have a birth plan but remember to be flexible around it, it won’t always be able to work out exactly how you planned and that’s ok. If you said you didn’t want an epidural but then you are struggling, take the epidural if you feel you need it. As they say, there are no prizes for giving birth without one. It doesn’t mean you’re weak.” ‒ Jennifer
- “By the time babe came, I was exhausted. I was not equipped mentally or physically to be on-demand 24/7. Also, I was not prepared for having an open mind. I was set on a vaginal birth and breastfeeding. When neither of those happened due to various reasons, I felt defeated. PPD set in quick and hard. Being flexible is key in my opinion.” ‒ Shalla
- “Breathe in and out slowly when you start to experience contractions 2-5 minutes apart for 5 minutes long. Breathing exercises really help a lot.” ‒ Ash
- “You have to just let your body go. Don’t worry about anything or anyone. If you feel the need to get naked, to touch yourself, to vocalize, just do it. Let yourself go into the birth and the experience. Surrender to your instincts.” ‒ Kjersten
- “Your body is ready for birth, I’d focus on preparing your mind ‒ learn exactly how “typical” birth works and all the interventions you may be offered if things don’t go smoothly so nothing comes as a shock.” ‒ Laura
- “Look into hypnobirthing. Really changed my outlook on labor.” ‒ Irita
- “If you plan to use hypnobirthing then start early as you need time to practice the affirmations and breathing.” ‒ Ashley
- “The best advice is to not overdo it with research.” ‒ Kendria
- “The best thing I can think of is don’t even think about it. It’ll only freak you out, and then do research and scare more (been there) just try to remain calm and distracted.” ‒ Allysa
- “Labor is very unpredictable! Don’t worry about having a ‘plan’ in place.” ‒ Tèa
- “Unfortunately a lot of it will be ‘on-the-job training’, and it’s corny but you do naturally adapt! That being said, I felt very nervous about labor, and being a mom as well, and meditation and listening to parenting podcasts really helped me. It calmed me down, and I felt educated on the things I was most nervous about. Headspace has a whole pregnancy course, and you can just search hundreds of parenting-related podcasts… you will do great!” ‒ Melissa
How can I make labor easier and faster?
There’s no magic trick to making labor go easier or faster, unfortunately, although taking good care of your body ahead of time will definitely help.
You might also think about taking a birthing class or drawing up a birth plan so that you feel better prepared.
Even the most detailed birth plans can change when labor arrives though.
Keeping calm and flexible if things don’t go according to plan can help your body maintain high levels of oxytocin, the hormone that encourages contractions.
And here are some things that worked for our Peanut moms who had fast labors, but it’s worth remembering that every body is different.
So what works for these mamas might not necessarily work for you:
- “Y’all better drink that red leaf raspberry tea THE ENTIRE BOX! I swear I think it helped a lot with the pushing part of labor. She came out so fast!” ‒ De’Ja
- “I had sex the night before and was doing raspberry leaf tea two times a day along with evening primrose oil.” ‒ Mel
- “Biggest tip I have is to ask someone to repeatedly remind you not to push with your face. Because of the epidural some women get so numb they can’t identify which muscles they’re using to push (like I did at first) so they end up getting red in the face and using those muscles instead or pushing with your anus like your pooping which is how you get hemorrhoids. It helped me to visualize my abs tightening.” ‒ Gaby
- “My labor from 1cm-10cm was an hour. The only thing I did from week 37-39 (when he came) was 100 squats a day and bounced on the end of the bed, lunges up and down the stairs for 30 mins a day but I’m not sure if it sped it up or if mine was just stupid fast just because.” ‒ Morgan
- “When labor started, I walked a lot.” ‒ Charlie
- “Focusing on not tensing up during contractions and pushing is a big help (but can be hard to do).” ‒ Lindsey
What week should I start preparing for labor?
Taking care of yourself throughout your pregnancy is great preparation for labor.
But this should ideally start before you even get pregnant, and continue throughout your pregnancy.
You also don’t need to wait until your third trimester to ask questions if you’ve got something on your mind.
Ask your doctor, midwife, or friends all your labor-related questions as they occur to you.
What should I prepare before giving birth?
Thinking about preparing for childbirth can suddenly feel very real and overwhelming, but before you start panicking — breathe.
Knowing what to expect from the delivery itself is another topic to discuss with your doctor, midwife, or antenatal class instructor.
Check out the stages of labor if you can and then put together some questions ahead of time if there are specific things you want to know.
There are many steps you can take to feel a little more in control physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Here are some of the main ones:
31. Get some rest if/when you can
Sadly, you won’t be able to get as much of it when your little one is keeping you up in the early hours, but enough sleep ahead of the birth can help you feel rested and relaxed.
Listen to your body when it’s calling for a nap.
32. Eat well and exercise
You’ve heard this one before.
It’s more important than ever now that you eat healthy, nourishing meals.
Lean meats, nuts, and lots of green leafy veggies should all be on the menu.
Try and also get a daily dose of exercise where possible, even if it’s just heading out for a half-hour walk.
Walking is especially good for you, and you can do it right until the very end.
If getting out isn’t an option, try following an online yoga, pilates, or stretching class.
All you need is about half an hour a day for your body to feel the benefits.
Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can all help to declutter your mind so that you feel focused and relaxed.
Mindfulness has been shown not only to ease some of the mental pressures of giving birth, but chronic and acute physical pain, too.
34. Take a class
Antenatal and birthing classes can give you practical tools you can use on your baby’s B-day.
You’ll likely learn about different birthing positions and what your options are in terms of pain relief, among other things.
Classes are also an opportunity to meet other mamas-to-be, which can help to create a community for you and your new baby once they’re born.
35. Draw up a birth plan
Keep your birth plan simple and flexible, and remember that it’s more a list of preferences than a definite plan.
In it, include what kind of support you want during your labor, what you want different people to do, what music you want to be playing, if you’re open to using drugs for pain, and whether you want to breastfeed.
36. Be selective about who you chat with
Right now, you need useful information, practical tools, love, and support.
Step away from people who make you feel anxious.
37. Pack your hospital bag
Prepping your hospital bag and having it ready to go is another important step in helping you feel ready.
If you only decide to do it once you’re in labor, you’re almost sure to forget a couple of things.
Remember to pack all the practical stuff, like nursing bras, as well as those sentimental items that will make your space feel comfy and familiar, like your favorite home-knitted blanket.
Playing music you love in your birthing room can make a big difference, for example.
Take a little time beforehand to think about what you want with you when you welcome your little peanut into the world.
38. Get organized at home (not just the nursery)
If your nursery has the important things it needs, that’s great.
But also take a day or so to make sure your cupboards, fridge, and freezer are stocked too.
Trust us – if you or your partner can freeze some meals in advance – future you will thank you!
How (not) to prepare for labor
Preparing for labor isn’t something that happens when your contractions start.
Rather, it’s been happening over the weeks and months of pregnancy that you’ve already gone through.
You’re probably already a lot more prepared than you think you are.
If you’re starting to feel more nervous as the time approaches though, speak to your doctor or midwife ahead of time.
Ask every question you can think of – even the ones that feel silly.
If you’ve got all the info you need, you’re less likely to feel panicked, uncertain, or insecure.
That said, Googling yourself into endless rabbit holes is definitely not the best way to approach preparing for labor.
All you need to do is understand the basics and decide on what’s important to you.
And where possible, always try to speak to a real doctor.
Beyond that, there’s not much more you need.
Birth can be a daunting, emotional, and transformative experience, so preparing for childbirth can be both a physical and emotional practice.
It’s also beyond beautiful.
You’re about to meet the newest and best human in the whole world, after all.
We’re with you every step of the way, mama.