The first time you do anything, there are serious learning curves. With pregnancy, it’s basically a giant experiment: Will I like this? Perhaps I would prefer that? How will I know if I don’t try it? Now that I’m experiencing my second pregnancy, I’m making a few, intentional choices that will set the stage for another great delivery.
#1 Squats – Lots and lots and lots of them
I was intentional about doing squats toward the end of my last pregnancy, but due to a variety of injuries wasn’t incredibly active for the first two trimesters. This time, I’m taking Ina May’s wisdom to heart…
Do 300 squats a day. You will give birth very quickly.
300 squats? Who has time for that? It definitely sounds like quite the commitment, but in practice 300 squats take roughly 9 minutes, if you don’t stop. There are also ways to split up the squat throughout the day to make it a little easier. No one said you have to do 300 squats consecutively.
In reality, I’ve had to scale back my workouts pretty significantly due to my preexisting health condition (more on that in a moment), but I’m working to incorporate squats and squatting into my routine on a daily basis. I definitely have room for improvement, but consciously trying is half of the battle.
My last labor lasted roughly six hours. While I believe that a variety of factors (which we’ll get to in a little bit) were at play, I have no doubt that incorporating more squats sooner will make it even quicker. In fact, studies have found that women who are active, in general, throughout pregnancy have better labor and recovery experiences.
Squats, with an emphasis on traditional squatting, not only bolster the muscles needed for delivery but help to open the birth canal. (More on that in this post.) And when you’re pushing a 7+ lb. baby through a very small space, every little bit counts.
An extension of the previous conversation, I’m going to be more intentional this pregnancy about the type of workouts I select. With my last pregnancy, I opted for mostly yoga and low-impact cardio – primarily due to a knee injury. While it served me well, I’m physically in much better shape and plan to continue pregnancy-safe weight lifting (mainly using my kettlebells) as a primary choice.
As I mentioned above, I’ve had to adjust my workouts more than anticipated to accommodate the unique limitations of my body. While my health is significantly better this pregnancy, I’m also much more aware of the subtle signs that I’ve pushed too far. Some weeks, I exert myself at a moderate or high level almost every day without issue. Other weeks, gentle walks are as much as I feel physically up to. Additionally, I try to remember that housework, utilizing a standing desk, chasing my preschooler, and simply going up and down the stairs in my three-story townhouse count as movement. The biggest challenge comes with not beating myself up when I want to be active, but physically need to rest. I love moving and doing things! But I know my workouts and movement is so much more effective when it is done in a rested and whole state.
#3 Fewer Carbs, More Protein & Fat
Since giving birth last time, I have significantly altered my diet. Back then, I was eating an odd combination of oatmeal, chocolate, eggs, corn chips, and kale. Now, my diet follows a Wahls paleo-style framework: High-quality protein, nutrient-dense vegetables, and a significant amount of fat. Protein is extremely important for baby’s development and not consuming enough predispositions a mom for pre- and postnatal complications. Fat is also extremely important for both mom and baby*. I’m focusing on MCTs, found in Coconut, but also including liberal amounts of EVOO, avocados, and animal fats.
I’m also religiously taking a high quality prenatal. Some necessary vitamins and minerals are not found in a prenatal supplement, so I’m making an extra effort to obtain glycine, Vitamin K2, Choline, and preform Vitamin A from food.
#4 Starting to prep mentally and emotionally for delivery in the first trimester.
With my last pregnancy, I spent the first half figuring out what I was going to do to cope when labor came around. I had a pretty good idea of what I’d settle on (more on that in a minute) but didn’t feel any rush to dive in. I had a short labor, given it was my first, but I’m interested in getting my body so comfortable with my coping mechanisms that this next labor is significantly faster.
I wholeheartedly agree with the perspective that labor is like a marathon. It takes a lot of prep beforehand to welcome the intensity with stride. There is a physical, emotional, and mental mountain that must be climbed. I’m wasting no time to begin my ascension. Already, I’m working to further establish a highly positive mindset surrounding birth and am working through a series of God-focused affirmations to get things started off right.
Using the SAME care provider
We loved our midwife team. Unfortunately, the two have decided to go their separate ways, but one of the two still works in our area. I’m thrilled to have her support, once again.
Finding a care provider that I can trust in the unlikely scenario of an emergency is important. If I felt even remotely concerned, I would’ve selected a new care provider.
Using the SAME style of labor and delivery prep (chiropractic, spinning babies, belly dancing, Red Raspberry Leaf Tea)
Our toolbox for labor was well stocked this past time and I have no intention of changing these core support mechanisms. Here are the biggest rocks in the jar that I want to share with you:
Hypnobirthing Breathing – I have to be honest, I didn’t do Hypnobirthing the “right” way. I fell in love with the breathing technique (thank you, Hypnobirthing Midwife) and used the tracks for practice a few times a week during the third trimester. But when it came down to delivery day, I just wasn’t interested in laboring with earbuds in my ears. I’m planning to do the same type of prep for this baby.
Chiropractic – Studies have shown that chiropractic care throughout pregnancy reduces delivery time by 25-40%, depending on the study.
Spinning Babies – Starting as early as 20 weeks, I will incorporate these exercises into my routine to make sure baby stays head down.
Exercise Ball – I will opt for an exercise ball that increases core strength while encouraging baby to be head down instead of a chair or couch.
Belly Dancing – (You laugh, but seriously!) Originally created to get babies head down, this is a great exercise modality to include in preparation for labor. I’ll be incorporating it on days I’m not lifting in the second half of my pregnancy.
Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – Hallmarked for its ability to tone the uterus, this herbal tea is full of vitamins and minerals. A must for all expecting mamas.
Dates – Another unconventional but proven method to prepare the body for labor. I’ll start having six dates a day – maybe in the form of a Larabar – in the third trimester.
Using the SAME list of postpartum recovery tools
Once again, I was pleased with the recovery experience I had. I intend on planning the postpartum to look very similar to the first one. Here are some of the bigger rocks:
Belly Band – To support internal organ healing. I’ll wear it for the first three months postpartum. My preference is the traditional Bengkung, but I will also purchase a more modern band for convenience. (I cover this in-depth in my Perfect Postpartum Planning Sheets*!)
Herbal Salve – Comfrey and Calendula are both notorious for speeding up tissue healing. Add in a little Lavender Essential Oil and it’s a lovely little healing salve!
Preplanned Meals and Snacks – This time, I’m planning to prepare for 3+ weeks. I’m also going to take advantage of Whole Foods grocery delivery for a selection of fresh items after delivery and UberEats when we want to mix things up.
Dedicated Bins – Snacks, Activities, Diapering… It makes the resting period much simpler! I’ll also be assembling a few bins for Henry.
All-in-all, I am excited and feel like my delivery and recovery prep are off to a good start! I worked through my Perfect Postpartum Planning Sheets* and am also working hard on the home-front to make sure everything is ready in a low-stress manner.
It’s going to be a great year!
*Affiliate Link – you will not be charged extra when purchasing through this link. A small portion of the purchase supports Blissberry Wellness.