Pregnancy Care and Labor Prep

I’m at the tail end of my second pregnancy, and felt compelled to compile some of my most favorite practices for natural pregnancy care here on the blog! These are simply things that make me feel my best physically, mentally, and emotionally as an expectant mama, and I hope they will help lots of expectant mamas find peace and wellness during such a transitional and important time.

This post goes hand in hand with my Birth Center/ Hospital Bag Checklist post, which I will link here as soon as it goes up next week! I hope you enjoy these tips!

pregnancy care

Feeling Fresh throughout Pregnancy

My number one feel good tactic during pregnancy is to make sure I feel fresh, even when I’m at home in my pjs. My first go-to for achieving that fresh feeling is having lots of cold water and tons of clean, bagged ice at my fingertips 24/7. I have a couple of big cups that I refill all day, and find that this keeps me the most hydrated and pure feeling.

Cold, fresh grapefruit is another fav of mine for an instant pick me up… but really any boost of cold citrus (lemon or lime slices in my water or a Cutie right from the fridge) makes me feel great.

Nutrients from raw fruits and veggies make me feel clean and full of vitality when I’m struggling to feel my best. I love eating raw cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, and just cannot get enough of a big fresh salad for lunch or dinner during pregnancy. Also, this prenatal is packed with raw vitamins and nutrients from fruits and veggies- its got better nutrient quantities than most any prenatal I’ve found in a pill, plus its tasty enough to drink by the spoonful.

A “from the inside out” approach is what I recommend during pregnancy- that is, focusing on nutrition and well-being over a made-up face, styled hair, and adorable maternity wardrobe. As far as getting ready is concerned, I prefer to feel natural and comfortable in my own skin. For me, this means classic, comfortable outfits, and simple beauty essentials that make me feel put together without tiring me out or making me feel loaded down with products. My must haves are:

  • Natural Deodorant– aluminum free, especially while nearby mammary glands are working towards producing milk. I use Tom’s.
  • Daily Moisturizing Cream (High SPF)– use it on the whole face, focusing on the pregnancy mask area, the chest, and tops of hands to combat increased sunspots during pregnancy. I have really enjoyed Derma·e face creams and cleansers this pregnancy. Other brands I also love for face and body are Kiss My Face and JĀSÖN.
  • Brightening Concealer– the one makeup product I keep using daily for my under eyes and discoloration.
  • Rosy Lip Balm– I use this on my lips + cheeks. It gives a pretty, flushed glow that looks sun kissed and reduces the need for other face makeup. I use this one.
  • Rose Water Mist, or roll on oil. I stopped using artificial perfume altogether when I first became pregnant with Ember. The subtle tones and freshness that natural, plant based alternatives have are by far more appealing to sensitive mamas during pregnancy and new motherhood. My favorites are this rose water, and these natural oil perfumes.

Stay Supple, Soft, and Juicy!

Feeling clean, pure, and put together are all musts for pregnancy care, but I have found that the hands-down most important essential for feeling great is being soft & supple.

During pregnancy, when you’re either nauseous and depleted, or bigger, tired, and can’t reach your feet or even see below your belly, it can be easy to feel…. “crusty”, if you will.

Maintaining that feeling of being soft, supple, and yes…. juicy…. can really combat that crusty feeling to revive your sense of femininity and confidence. I accomplish this with the following:

  • Take a hot shower or bath at night. After Ember is in bed, before I relax for the evening, I go for hot water and steam. It literally washes away all the negativity of the day, relaxes sore muscles, softens and moistens my skin, and relieves an exhausted brain. Helps prep the mind and body for sleep, too.
  • Treat your room like a sanctuary at night. Keep your room tidy, with clean bedding, and light a candle. Doing this helps me have a place to gain back some of the me-time I DO NOT GET during the day and helps me feel more serene & nurtured, even if the rest of my house is a mess.
  • Keep moisturized! I use lots of lotion during the day to keep my skin and belly soft. At night, I use my favorite pregnancy oil (pictured below) to rub my my chest, belly, hips, etc. The rubbing of the skin improves circulation too, especially during those final weeks when you are puffy and swollen.
  • Herbals Remedies. Rose hip seed oil on my face morning and night is a cure all. Lavender oil on my skin or a hot cloth is soothing at night. Inhaling Eucalyptus or Rosemary oil scents during the day give a boost of fresh energy. And the best for last: Liquid Bliss for good vibes all day long!
  • Tons of Good, Natural Balm. Keep your lips and hands soft and hydrated with a good, natural balm. I even use it on my hands to ward off dry skin and dermatitis patches (which are common during pregnancy and post partum). Keep balm in the kitchen, bedroom, car, purse… everywhere you do your life. Dry lips and hands are for me among the easiest way to slip from feeling like a feminine domestic goddess to a crusty house maid…..so for me its a must.
  • Birth Affirmations. I worked a lot on Hypnobirthing relaxation exercises with my first pregnancy, which I did enjoy. However, during this pregnancy I have really, really benefited from listening to positive birth affirmations for promoting strength, confidence, and empowerment in preparation for a natural and healthy birth. Spending just a couple of minutes here and there while driving, cleaning, cooking, or while relaxing in the evening really, really helps clear my mind, build my confidence, and promote peace as I prep for birth.

Physical Strength & Comfort

The most important things are… do lots of yoga, stay active, do a lot of walking, elevate your feet, and relax with a hot pad! Do deep breathing exercises, and spend tons of time meditating! I know you’ve heard these things before, too. I’m all for most of them and try my best to be that mom, really I do. But in real life, being pregnant with a toddler means I do not have the time or energy for most of these things on a regular basis.

My second pregnancy has been filled with far more household and toddler care activities than my first pregnancy…. like endless errands, holding little ones, nursing, tucking in at night, and picking up a ton of toys off the floor. Bending over to clean, unload the dishwasher or dryer, and getting Em in and out of the car seat have been among the most challenging!

So, I’m going to skip the typical pregnancy care recommendations and recommend a belly band instead! Mine has been a Godsend this time around in supporting the increased size, stretch, and weakness of my abs and uterus this time around. If I wear it all day, my uterus is far less “angry” (as my midwife puts it) at the end of a long day!

Oh, and I would not have been able to get through my second pregnancy without my birth ball. By the time dinner and toddler bedtime are complete, my back, belly, and chest are just so uncomfortable. The best relief for me is to just lean forward and relax on my birth ball with my arms and chest, letting my belly hang for awhile. Swaying and stretching movement in all directions gives expansion and relief to all areas, even for just temporarily. Alternating between the cat/cow back in this same position on the birth ball is also great relief. I’ll usually do my birth ball at night after a hot shower to cool off and veg out.

If you are looking for further exercises to do to relieve pregnancy tension, position baby for labor, or discover relief during labor, I do recommend Spinning Babies. There is a wealth of info here. I, for one, and practicing the simple Three Sisters group of exercises, which work together to balance the pelvis for comfort, birth prep, and smooth labor.

Products for Labor Prep

Along with physical pregnancy care techniques, these are some really great nutritional supplements that will help to support the feminine system and prep the body for labor from the inside, out…

  • Dates– Eating 60-80 grams of date fruit during late pregnancy is shown to ripen the cervix, encouraging natural labor and reducing need for induction or augmentation (Evidence Based Birth) . It also enhances our natural oxytocin effect, helps to contract the womb and reduce blood loss post birth (Mom Junction).
  • Raspberry Leaf Tea– Is a huge support to the female reproductive system as is, easing symptoms of PMS, endometriosis, menopause symptoms. However, it is also suspected to help strengthen the uterus and pelvic muscles, thereby potentially reducing a number of risks during labor and birth (Wellness Mama).
  • Evening Primrose Oil– Can be taken orally or inserted while lying down. It helps to soften the cervix, which is hugely helpful for labor progress. It can also be used topically around the female parts and perineum to help soften and stretch the skin. Practicing this type of oil massage in the weeks prior to labor can really help to prevent or reduce tearing during birth.

I hope you enjoyed these tips and find them useful to you! Comment your own favorites below, and share with a pregnant mama you know!

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