To help you achieve an optimum birthing experience you can provide yourself with the best support available you. Giving birth is a dramatic experience, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel worried or fearful as your pregnancy progresses. You can have confidence that your body is well equipped for what’s ahead, but if need be, gather strength. Spend time out in nature whenever you can and, when you do, take the time to really observe and connect with the cycles of life all around you. Back at home, care for yourself, rest and prepare lovingly for the due date.
Week 34: Ensure that you regularly get a good nights sleep and, if possible, take afternoon naps to rest your body. Visualise your baby, welcome him or her to your world and send him or her your love and encouragement. Eat iron-rich foods. Massage your perineum daily before the birth to help prevent tears. Soak in the bath to soften the area. Place natural plant oil on your thumb or index finger and place in the vagina at least five centimetres. Gently stretch the area in a U-shaped motion until you feel a tingling sensation, release and massage, repeat 5-10 times. Learn to love raspberry leaf tea, as a cup a day can help to tone the uterus. Put together a complementary birth kit see sidebar.
Week 35: Go over any acupressure or shiatsu points you may wish to use during labour with your support person. Do your pelvic floor exercises daily. Practise gentle stretching to help prepare your pelvis for labour, such as lying on your back on the floor with your legs stretched up a wall. Gently open your legs wide, keeping your hips as close to the wall as you can. Hold for a few minutes and then gently tread your feet down the wall and roll onto your side to relax.
Week 36: You might wish to try different remedies to help you through these last few weeks. Mugwort flower remedy may encourage the baby to engage, olive flower is a remedy for exhaustion, hornbeam helps if you feel yourself doubting your ability to cope, and use mimulus if you’re beginning to feel afraid.
Week 37: Rest. Your body is carrying a heavy load, so there’s no need to push yourself. Take small amounts of vitamin C and zinc, both necessary for hormone production before delivery.
Week 38 : Start to eat a diet rich in carbohydrates. Increase your intake of raspberry leaf tea to four cups a day. Eat plenty of magnesium- and calcium-rich foods to fortify the muscles ready for contractions during labour. If there has been a history of late births, talk to your healthcare practitioner about taking blue cohosh. This herb can be used after week 37, but only if there are no Braxton-Hicks contractions. Rather than take vitamin K supplements, which can overly enhance blood-clotting mechanisms, eat plenty of foods rich in vitamin K. Stinging nettle tea is rich in both vitamin K and iron. Co-enzyme Q10 is sometimes recommended as it can improve the ability of muscle cells to use oxygen and metabolise energy. Now is a good time to start taking the homoeopathic remedy arnica 6c to help prevent bruising after birth. Seek advice from a qualified homoeopath.
Week 40: In consultation with your practitioner, regular acupressure can relieve anxiety and abdominal discomfort. Some points will help to reduce haemorrhaging and strengthen the uterus ready for labour. Drink fennel tea to increase milk flow. Practice relaxation techniques and the labour positions.