Preparing for Labor: Expectations After Giving Birth

Although it doesn't always feel like it, pregnancy goes by in the blink of an eye. One minute you're announcing the happy news, and the next you're feeling your first contraction. During the last few weeks, you're excited to meet your little one and maybe a little nervous about going through labor. 

Don't worry—you've got this! Before you think about postpartum care, use these tips on how to prepare for labor to ensure your mind and body are ready for the experience. 


Table of Contents

  • How to Prepare for Labor
  • Natural Ways to Prepare the Body for Labor
  • Signs Your Body is Preparing for Labor
  • Preparing for a Joyous Experience


How to Prepare for Labor 


Many pregnancy books focus on fetal development, nutrition for pregnant women or what to do in the weeks following the birth of your baby. You also need to think about how to prepare for labor, which includes preparing your body and your home for the arrival of a tiny human. 

Here are a few things you can do to make the process as easy as possible: 


  • Choose a pediatrician if you don't already have one. Not all pediatricians are accepting new patients, so you may have to contact two or three offices before you find someone with availability. 


  • Launder some of your little one's new outfits with a detergent made specifically for babies. Not all babies fit into newborn sizes when they're born, so try to wash a mix of newborn and 0-3M pieces. 


  • If you plan to nurse, pack a Lactation Support Powder Mix, a nursing bra and other nursing supplies in your hospital bag. You should also check to see if your health insurance covers breast pumps and other related supplies. 


  • Attend childbirth classes to learn what to do to make the labor process go as smoothly as possible. 


  • Install a car seat in your vehicle. If you choose to give birth in a hospital, you won't be able to leave if you don't have one. 


  • Prepare some of your favorite meals and freeze them. During the first few days with a new baby, it's nice to have ready-to-eat meals available. You can enjoy your favorite dishes without having to cook or pay for takeout. 


Natural Ways to Prepare the Body for Labor 


You can't plan for every contingency, but you can use some natural techniques to prepare your mind and body for the labor process. One of the easiest methods is to meditate or practice mindfulness for just a few minutes per day. 

Breathing slowly helps relieve stress, ensuring that you're in the right frame of mind for giving birth. Meditation and mindfulness may also reduce blood pressure, ease pain and help you sleep better. 




Many women also benefit from receiving professional massages. Massage improves your mood, reduces pain and helps you relieve stress, making it ideal for the last few weeks of pregnancy. Look for a massage therapist who understands how to modify common techniques according to the needs of pregnant patients. 




Good nutrition is always important, and even more so when you're supporting two lives instead of one. During labor, you need plenty of strength, so follow your healthcare provider's recommendations regarding protein intake. Your provider may also recommend a prenatal vitamin to ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals. 




During labor, your uterus contracts due to the effects of oxytocin, a powerful hormone. If you're close to your due date, you may be able to move things along by boosting your oxytocin levels. All you have to do is laugh, listen to your favorite music, have sex or participate in other enjoyable activities. Oxytocin is known as the "love hormone" because it's associated with intimacy and other positive feelings. 




Exercise is good for everyone, but if you're learning how to prepare for labor, it's even more important than usual. For many women, labor is a marathon rather than a sprint. You need plenty of muscle strength and stamina to get you over the finish line. 

When you exercise, try to target the muscles involved in giving birth. For example, child's pose opens up your hips and takes the pressure off your pregnant belly. Squatting also strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which may reduce the amount of time it takes you to recover from childbirth. 

If you have trouble getting into yoga poses, take a walk around the neighborhood. Even if you can only walk around the block once or twice, it's better than not exercising at all. 


Signs Your Body Is Preparing for Labor


During the last few weeks of pregnancy, your body starts preparing for labor. At some point, you may notice that your joints feel looser. You're not imagining things—this is a well-known effect of pregnancy caused by a hormone called relaxin. When you give birth, you need the muscles and ligaments in your pelvis to be as loose as possible. Relaxin is what helps everything loosen up. 

Cervical dilation, Braxton-Hicks contractions and "lightening" are also signs your body is preparing for labor. Braxton-Hicks contractions, also known as false labor pains, occur during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. They prepare your body for labor, but they're not a sign of active labor. 

Lightening is when the baby drops lower in your pelvic area. Many women breathe a sigh of relief when this happens, as lightening reduces the pressure on your upper abdomen. However, you may have to pee more often once the baby starts pressing on your bladder. 


Preparing for a Joyous Experience 


Your little one will be here before you know it. Make the birthing experience more magical by taking time to prepare your body and your mind. 


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