The weeks leading up to birth are huge for both mother and baby. It’s during these final 4-6 weeks that we focus on the final preparation for both mum and baby.
1. Visualise your baby and your birth.
It’s no secret that visualisation is a powerful tool.
Visualise the birth you want, and the environment you are hoping to birth in. This will help you to feel more comfortable and prepared when the time comes.
2. Nap as often as possible.
Having adequate rest before you go into labour is important.
Having the energy to labour for hours, and inevitably be up for a lot of the night with your newborn, can be very taxing on your mental and physical health.
Although you can’t ‘bank’ sleep, you can be as well rested before your new one arrives.
3. Correct sleeping position.
Flowing on from taking plenty of naps, it’s important to lie in a position that not only supports your body, but ensures the baby stays in its optimal position heading into birth.
Your midwife or obstetrician can help you determine how your baby lies in your uterus. Lie primarily on the same side your baby’s back is lying to ensure they don’t move too much. When you are lying on your side, prop your belly up with pillows – this takes the weight off your belly and helps prevent the weight of your baby pulling your pelvis forward. Placing a small pillow between your knees when lying on your side will also help with spine and pelvic alignment.
4. Don’t tell people your exact due date (if you haven’t already).
Keeping your exact estimated due date (EDD) under wraps can help take the pressure off you and your partner or your baby doesn’t come exactly when it’s meant to.
Your due date is an estimate of 40 weeks after your last missed period. Babies don’t know when 40 weeks exactly is up, and will come when they’re ready.
Being vague helps to eliminate phone calls and messages from well-meaning family and friends, wondering if the baby has arrived yet.
This takes the pressure off you, mum, to birth on your exact EDD. Remember – only 4% of babies arrive on their EDD.
5. Know your options.
By now you will have an idea of where you will be birthing (or hoping to birth).
Take the time to research your chosen option – making sure it’s what YOU want and what you believe is best for your baby.
Going into birth feeling empowered can make a world of difference between a birth you want and a traumatic birth experience. Have your birth plan clearly written, with things you do want and things you don’t want.
Include any allergies, religious or ceremonial events that you want during your birth and ensure to have a discussion with your hospital caregiver in case any emergency measures need to be taken.
6. Keep an upright posture.
Avoid sitting in a reclined position, particularly on soft surfaces such as the couch.
This can put pressure on the low back, pelvis and sacrum and may encourage the baby to move out of its optimal position leading up to birth. Try to stay either upright or lie fully flat.
7. Perineal massage.
Perineal massage may be a new concept to many expectant mothers.
Massaging the perineal area from 34-36 weeks encourages suppleness and stretchability, decreasing the tendency to tear, or need an episiotomy (1). There are many fantastic resources and videos on perineal massage.
Some of my favourite videos resources are:
8. Pelvic floor exercises.
Having a strong pelvic floor can help to ensure you have a quicker recovery after birth.
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that sit inside your pelvic, acting as a floor or basket for your uterus and abdominal organs to rest in.
Strengthening through your pelvic floor throughout your pregnancy can help you learn to relax your pelvic floor during labour.
This may sound counter intuitive, but if you know how to activate these muscles, then you will be much better at knowing how to relax them during delivery.
Strengthening the pelvic floor can also help with better circulation, therefore better healing post-birth, prevents constipation and incontinence and may be beneficial in preventing anal and vulval heamorrhoids (2).
9. Massage oils into your breasts and belly.
Massaging oils and creams into your breasts, nipples and belly can help prevent stretch marks as well as ensuring suppleness when you begin breastfeeding (if you are able to).
Breast massage can also help encourage colostrum production which is hugely rewarding for an expectant mum.
10. Be mindful of your diet leading up to birth.
Having a balanced diet throughout your pregnancy is so important. It’s essential that leading up to birth mums get enough vitamin B, C, E, K, iron, zinc, magnesium and probiotics. Try and avoid inflammatory foods such as refined sugar and dairy and gluten if you have known intolerances to them. See our blog on where and how to get your daily vitamins and minerals from foods.
It is always best to get these vitamins and minerals from fresh whole foods, but supplementation may be needed to ensure your levels are optimum.
11. Get your spine and nervous system checked by a chiropractor!
This is one of the most important ones. Making sure that your spine and pelvis are aligned heading into birth may contribute to a better birth experience.
A mother’s centre of gravity changes as her belly gets bigger – her head tends to project forward, shoulder drooping forward due to increased breast size, and often an increased low back curve – leading to head, neck, shoulder and back pain (3).
Having a well-aligned spine and pelvis can help ensure that the uterus and birth canal is a big and as round as possible, helping the baby move through more easily.
Written by Frankston Female Chiropractor Dr Connor Charles.
Dr Connor has completed a Bachelor of Health Sciences, a Bachelor of Applied Sciences (Chiropractic) and is currently completing a Postgraduate Diplomate of Clinical Chiropractic Paediatrics. She has also spent time attending other seminars and workshops to help expand her knowledge.
Connor is very passionate about chiropractic for families, children and pregnant women. She has a keen interest in helping women through their pregnancies with gentle techniques.
- Labrecque M. Randomised Controlled Trial of Prevention of Perineal Trauma by Perineal Massage During Pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gyn. 1999;180 (31);593-600
- Balaskas J. Preparing for Birth with YOGA. Australia: Element Books; 1994.
- McMullen M. Spinal Stabilisation and Exercise for the Childbearing Year. JCCP. 1998;3(1).