Natural Birth Helpers
I was fairly lucky with my first labor and delivery. Hermione came two weeks early and quite quickly for a first baby. I was able to have the completely natural birth that I wanted and recovered quickly. I am hoping that this time around is just as smooth and maybe even a little faster as everyone has told me it might be. In order to help prepare my body for an easy labor and delivery I have a few natural birth helpers that I have been working into my daily routine these past few weeks!
Studies show that eating dates during your pregnancy, specifically in the last four weeks, can help ease labor and even shorten it's duration! Women who eat six or more dates a day have been known to show up to the hospital more dilated (I was a full 10cm when I arrived to have Hermione), and have faster smoother deliveries with fewer interventions. This is thought to be because dates have an oxytocin-like effect on the body leading to increased sensitivity of the uterus. They also help stimulate uterine contractions, and reduces postpartum hemorrhage the way oxytocin does. Whether this is totally true or not I find dates completely heavenly and have been eating my fair share!
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which is thought to be a cervical ripener and softener. While some people advise against eating large quantities of pineapple in the first two trimesters for fear of miscarriage, in the last few weeks it can be quite helpful. As I did with Hermione I have been eating several cups of fresh pineapple a day hoping it will help soften my cervix and bring on labor. Whether this truly works or not it's a satisfying snack, quite hydrating and I can't get enough!
Be warned. This type of massage is neither relaxing or enjoyable. For that I recommend scheduling a good prenatal massage! However, if done daily from about 34 weeks onwards perineal massage can reduce the risks of tears during delivery and the need for stitches once the baby is born. While you can do perineal massage on yourself (here's how) the larger your belly gets the harder it may be to really reach down there. I have Doug do the work for me while I try and distract myself from the pain with bad TV! I like using Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil as it smells really nice and is totally safe and natural. I also have a few bottles packed in my hospital bag-my OB used it last time as I delivered Hermione to help me stretch and to further prevent tearing!