Preparing for labor! Here I’m sharing some of the natural methods I’m using to prep my body for labor… eating dates, drinking raspberry leaf tea and bouncing on an exercise ball.
We’re in the home stretch… my due date is TODAY!
The carseat is in, our hospital bags are packed and we’re so ready to meet this little lady.
Isaac and I have both been super busy with work this week, just wrapping up last minute things and trying to feel as prepared as possible to step away for a bit to enjoy the first few days after her arrival.
Speaking of getting prepared, the third trimester has been all about getting ready for her grand arrival. There was a little extra planning and prep involved based on our unique situation (read more about that here), but I wanted to share some of the other things we’ve been doing to prepare for labor as well.
First thing first, Isaac and I did a 4 week childbirth education class with our doula at A Brighter Birth. I’m so happy we did this because it was around the same time we found out about the baby’s heart condition and it was nice to have something fun to look forward to each week while we were in the midst of everything.
We really enjoyed connecting with the other expecting parents in our group (this was the best part). But we also learned so much about the birth process and how to feel confident rather than nervous about the natural process of bringing a baby into the world. By the end of the 4 weeks I felt like we both had a good idea of what to expect and I felt empowered knowing that my body was literally made to do this.
Through online research and the birthing class, I also picked up a few natural techniques to help prep my body for labor. If you follow me on Instagram you already know what I’ve been doing, but I thought I would share more about what methods I’m using and the research behind them here.
Of course you can eat dates any time during your pregnancy, but randomized trials have found that eating dates in late pregnancy may increase cervical ripening, decrease the length of labor, reduce the need for a medical labor induction or augmentation, and one small study found a positive effect on postpartum blood loss. (source, source)
How many dates dates are you supposed to eat? 70-75 grams of dates is equal to about 6 deglet noor dates or 3 large medjool dates. I’ve been eating medjool dates because they’re softer, larger and taste like caramel so they’re more delicious, IMO.
How do you eat the dates? Sometimes I’ll eat the dates plain or dipped in peanut or almond butter as a snack, but I have a ton of fun recipes that include dates as well. My homemade healthy samoas, pumpkin pie energy balls, healthy Twix bars, Snicker’s stuffed dates, vegan date caramel sauce, homemade vegan chocolate Turtles and date sweetened almond flour muffins.
When should you start eating them? When you’re 4 weeks away from your due date, so starting at 36 weeks.
Where do you buy dates? You can find medjool dates in the produce section of the grocery store, usually near the bananas. I really like the Natural Delights brand.
Medical studies have shown that red raspberry leaf can decrease the length of labor and the number of interventions used, such as artificial rupture of membranes, assisted delivery, and cesarean delivery. (source) Red raspberry leaf also seems to help prevent pregnancies from pre-or post-term gestation (delivering too early or too late).
When to start drinking raspberry leaf tea and how much? Sources give different advice and it’s always best to ask your doctor or midwife, but from everything I’ve read you want to wait until you’re at least in the 2nd trimester. I actually started drinking the tea the same time I started the dates (at 36 weeks) and I’ve been drinking 1 to 2 cups a day.
I personally prefer the tea cold rather than hot so I make a big pitcher at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge.
What type of raspberry leaf tea should I buy? There are a ton of different brands that offer red raspberry leaf tea, but I’ve been using Traditional Medicinals because it’s organic and easy to find at most grocery stores.
Another habit I’ve taken up in last two weeks is sitting on a large exercise ball while working and bouncing on it throughout the day. This is said to help induce labor and assist with cervix dilation.
I bought a new exercise ball that’s bigger than the one I had before and feel like it’s a great investment because exercise balls can also be helpful during labor. And it should also come in handy after birth because bouncing on the ball (with baby) can be really soothing for the babe.
What exercise ball should I get? I ordered my exercise ball on Amazon. The one I got is inexpensive, has good reviews and arrived in 1 day (thanks to Prime!). I ordered the 65cm since I’m 5’6″.
I’ve honestly been feeling great physically — still working, going to prenatal yoga, walking a ton and staying really busy. The only semi-terrible symptom that’s popped up this trimester is hemorrhoids…. ugh! Why doesn’t anyone warn you about these pesky things?!
I won’t go into the details, but I’ve basically just been treating them with tucks wipes and MotherLove rhoid balm. The balm is 100% natural and seems to be helping.
So that’s the final pregnancy update for now. If you want to stay in the loop, I’m hoping to be able to share updates about her arrival on Instagram.