Preparing for the birth of a child is an incredible experience. Along with the excitement of a baby, comes the opportunity to witness the power of the female body to grow, nurture, and deliver a new life. It’s also a period of physical, emotional, and daily changes. During this time, there are many practices and practitioners that are dedicated to supporting pregnant women navigate this chapter. In our own bid to provide resources for our community of moms-to-be, we’ve rounded up some of our top self-care essentials that are rooted in ancient wisdom and modern science.
Acupuncture is safe and has a host of benefits during all stages of pregnancy. In the first trimester, it can help nourish the body and temper those early symptoms of morning sickness, fatigue, and heartburn. As your pregnancy continues, it can also benefit swelling, constipation, and general aches and pains.
However, the third trimester can be the most important time to invest in acupuncture treatment as it can help prepare the body for birth by activating certain acupressure points, which helps relax and soften the uterus and enhance blood flow.
The ideal period to begin this treatment is at 36 weeks gestation and some studies have shown that consistent pre-birth acupuncture can initiate labor, shorten birth time, and reduce labor pain.
Most massage therapists use a combination of relaxation and remedial massages to support the physical symptoms that are adapted to suit the many physical changes that can occur during pregnancy. Obviously, the extra weight and pressure of a growing baby can strain and create tension on other areas of the body.
Massage — especially at the later stage of pregnancy — can effectively reduce this discomfort and restore function to your muscles, nerves, fascia, and other connective tissues. It’s also been reported to relieve headaches associated with pregnancy, swelling, and blood circulation.
It’s also a lovely opportunity to take some time to soothe your body and spirit as you prepare for your birth.
Depending on your trimester, many therapists offer a traditional table massage that can be done face down, lying on your side, or seated with the support of cushions and bolsters.
One of the major benefits of chiropractic work is that it addresses the injuries that occured before pregnancy. Any parts of the spine that endured a trauma prior to conception can flare up with the extra pressure pregnancy places on the body. Potentially, if these weaknesses are left uncorrected, they may affect a mother’s spinal health during pregnancy. Therefore, if you’re planning to fall pregnant or have newly conceived, having a chiropractic alignment sooner rather than later can be a great preventative measure.
Chiropractic treatments may also assist your birth process and your baby’s growth as a chiropractor can ensure that your pelvis is sitting correctly to allow optimal room for your baby to physically develop and move.
Also, post-pregnancy, pelvic realignments can be very healing and if you choose to have more children, can also prepare your body for subsequent pregnancies.
Low Impact Exercise
During pregnancy, many women report feeling deeply connected to their bodies. At this time, gentle walking (especially in nature) and practices such as Pilates and prenatal yoga can help cultivate the relationship between body and mother. Tuning into the body and its messages through mindful movement builds a sense of trust in its innate wisdom and positions it as your ultimate birth guide. Although these practices can help lower blood pressure, increase circulation, tonify ligaments and joints, and prepare you physically for birth, their ability to foster a sense of personal empowerment and bodily connection is invaluable.
Internal Body Work and Pelvic Floor Therapy
Pelvic floor therapy is a specialized type of physical therapy that is an amazing tool for women at all stages of life, but can especially be helpful during pregnancy and as you deliver your baby. This practice aims to strengthen the internal muscles that exist between the tail bone and the coccyx. Many pelvic floor exercises — such as bridge poses, squats, and squeeze and release techniques — can naturally be found in Pilates, yoga sets, and even exercise classes. However, it is important to give them extra attention and to practice them daily as consistency creates the most effective results. Some pelvic floor therapists may also promote the use of vaginal dilators if you’re having specific challenges with prescribed exercises.
For each of these modalities, it goes without saying to always seek our licensed practitioners and reputable sources. Ask your community of moms to recommend studios, clinics, and healers. Book in for an initial consultation and if it doesn’t feel aligned, empower yourself to find other people and practices that feel more supportive and informed. Remember, your intuition is at its peak during this period — trust it!