1st Trimester Activities
You can prepare for labour, even in your first trimester!
Keep on moving
In the first trimester, it is normal for women to be clouded by fatigue. So exercise may not be the first thing on your mind. But according to personal trainer, Sam Etches, keeping active in your first trimester can keep you fit throughout the whole pregnancy, as it gives you stamina and increases your chances of having a natural birth. “What you do will depend on your pre-pregnancy fitness levels,” says Sam. “If you haven’t been very active before, now’s not the time to start a vigorous training schedule. Swimming, brisk walking or a pregnancy-based course, such as pilates are excellent ways to keep fit.”
However, if you were active pre-pregnancy, you must remember to tone down the intensity and frequency of your training schedule. “Basically, just avoiding anything that leaves you breathless and red-faced. Remember you have inbuilt cooling down mechanisms, but your baby doesn’t,” reminds Sam.
Meditation is one of the best ways to unwind from the stresses of pregnancy. If you practice this early on in pregnancy, not only can you enjoy quiet moments with your baby, but it can also teach you techniques to get you through labour. A 30-minute meditation session is ideal, but even if you can’t squeeze this in, a few sessions here and there will do the trick as well. And better still, you needn’t go to classes for this either, any good bookshops will have a selection of books on practicing these quiet moments.
Get friendly with your doctor
According to research, getting to know your doctor may lead to a more positive labour. Although there’s no guarantee that the doctor that you’ve been assigned to will be present at your birth, it doesn’t hurt to cultivate the friendship during your antenatal visits. When you have a good relationship with your doctor, it often leaves you more relaxed, and such, you’ll be a in a more positive frame of mind when labour comes.
Prep Your Body for Baby
Get fit in your 2nd Trimester
Pregnant women can definitely benefit from those deep squats that sumo wrestlers love doing. “Squatting is a fantastic thing to start practicing in the second trimester, as it strengthens your lower back, thighs and bum and is a particularly useful labour position,” enthuses Sam. However, caution is needed, as with any form of exercise during pregnancy. “If you have symphysis publis dysfunction (a pregnancy condition that causes pelvic pain), certain squatting positions will not be possible,” warns Sam. You may need to check with your doctor to see if they can recommend you other positions instead.
A mum-to-be massage may take the aches from your back and your feet, and it’ll help you unwind in the process. You can also get your partner involve, if you’d prefer to get a massage in the comfort of your own home. Apart from creating intimacy, it is also a good way to teach him a few techniques that may come in handy during labour. Mother & Baby nurse, Michelle Lyne, says that a perineum massage is also recommended after 28 weeks, to help it become more flexible for birth and to reduce tearing. Here’s how to do it: wash your hands, run a little unscented oil into them, insert two fingers into your vagina then pull gently down and outwards. You should feel a slight tingling, but not pain.
The Final Countdown
Here’s what to expect in the last weeks of pregnancy
The last weeks of pregnancy is normally filled with anxiety and excitement. Your body’s gotten so big that you’re finding it hard to be comfortable. Don’t spend the last weeks of pregnancy worrying. Soon, you’ll meet your new baby. Here’s our week-by-week guide on how you can make the most of the last 10 weeks of your pregnancy.
10 weeks to go
Just because you’re getting bigger and you feel the need to stock up on energy for labour, it doesn’t mean that you can go wild eating your favourite ice cream. You don’t actually need to eat for two. It’s more important to keep to a healthy diet that includes nutritious food.
Snack on dried fruits, nuts, cereal bars and lightly-cooked strips of vegetables such as eggplant and carrots.
9 weeks to go
With a big belly, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep. So, try to relax for an hour during lunch time. A good idea is to sleep on your side with a pillow under your belly. Now is also a good time to start shopping for baby. Check out the best deals for baby essentials, such as a crib and stroller.
Yoga relaxation can work wonders at this stage. Get your body properly supported while lying on your side in a quite, dimly-lit room, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Relax each part of your body and take time to stretch out and sit up slowly.
8 weeks to go
Pack your bag
If you have other children, get them used to the idea of a new baby. You’ll need to start packing your hospital bag too, as labour may start at anytime. Use your time at your antenatal classes to discuss any worries you have and iron out your labour plans.
Pack a couple of treats in your hospital bag – some really nice body cream, your favourite CDs or a new lip gloss.
7 weeks to go
Braxton-Hicks (practice contractions) may be happening around this time. This means that your body is getting ready for the real thing. You should start thinking about how your like your labour to be – who should be there, what you would like for pain relief, and so on.
For tiredness, rest with your feet above the level of your heart, as this helps your circulation and protect you against varicose veins that may likely be appearing now (and most likely disappear once your baby’s born).
6 weeks to go
You can do a few gentle exercises to help prepare your body for labour. But don’t try to do anything that causes extra strain on you mentally or physically.
To avoid tearing during childbirth, now’s a good time to do a daily massage (once or twice a day) in your perineum (the area between your vagina and anus). Use a little bit of olive oil, and place your thumbs about 3-4cm inside your vagina. Gently massage and stretch your perineum for three to four minutes.