Preparing for Labor, Birth & Postpartum

Preparing for Labor, Birth & Postpartum

As the end of your pregnancy is nearing you want to start preparing for labor and delivery! When I was pregnant with my daughter, that last month or so felt like it dragged on SOOOOOO slow… can you relate?

If this is your first time having a baby, I’m sure the thoughts you’re currently having about labor and delivery are varied. You might be scared, excited, nervous, overwhelmed, calm, or a combination of all of the above. One of the weirdest parts is that unless you’re having a planned induction or c-section, you really just have no idea when baby will make their appearance. You hit 37 weeks and suddenly it’s like… baby could come, like, tomorrow, or in 5 more weeks. So wild.

One of the best ways to fill your time as you wait is to prepare yourself for labor and delivery. I’ve heard plenty of mamas say, “Oh, there’s just so much that will be out of my control so I’m just going to see how it goes,” and to be frank, I don’t really agree with that statement.

Labor is a marathon. You wouldn’t run a marathon without any training, right? Sure, there are tons of things about a marathon that are out of your control, like the weather, who else is running the race, and what spectators will be shouting at you from the sidelines. But you would definitely be training your body and mind before that marathon, right? I think the same for labor and delivery.

Pelvic floor exerciseTraining your Body

It truly is incredible what the female body goes through during labor. I chose to experience labor and delivery with my daughter unmedicated, so I was really able to feel every sensation as I worked through many hours of contractions, and then pushed my baby out. But even if you go the epidural route and have less sensation, that really doesn’t take away from the fact that physiological birth is AMAZING. And so so so taxing on the body! For this reason, I find it imperative to train the body in advance to prepare yourself for successful labor. Here are some of the things I recommend all pregnant women do in preparation for labor and delivery:

  • Pelvic tilts: this helps to strengthen your core, open your pelvis, help baby settle in head-down, and can relieve back and pelvic discomfort. Learn how to do it properly here.
  • Pelvic floor exercises: these help to strengthen your pelvic floor, which can prevent tearing during delivery, help push baby out more comfortably, and prevent future incontinence. See which exercises are best here.
  • Walking: no surprise here, walking is a great form of exercise during pregnancy and is helpful on many fronts. Try to fit in at least 1 2-minute walk each day as you prepare for the baby's arrival!
  • Eating dates: studies show that eating dates during pregnancy helps women to have higher cervical dilation, intact membranes, and more spontaneous labor. 6 dates a day is recommended near the end of the third trimester.
  • Contraction practice: yes, really! You might be having some Braxton Hicks contractions, but that’s not what I’m talking about. My husband and I took The Bradley Method birth course (which was 10/10) to prepare for labor and delivery, and one of the main aspects of the course is labor practice. For the last 12 weeks of my pregnancy, we would take 20 minutes before going to sleep to practice contractions. I highly suggest either taking the Bradley Method course, or reading the Bradley Method book, which you can find here.
  • Taking a breastfeeding course: this is the part of immediate postpartum that I was *not* prepared for. I assumed that breastfeeding would just come naturally and we would figure it out as we go. Not at ALL how it went. I had soooo many issues, pain, tears, and almost gave up entirely after a few days. This is why I now always recommend to other pregnant mamas that they take a comprehensive breastfeeding course before giving birth. The course that completely saved my breastfeeding journey a few weeks postpartum is The Thompson Method.

Birth course for pregnant womenTraining Your Mind

Just like with a marathon, birth requires a certain level of mental preparedness! There are many ways to go about training your mind for labor, but I don’t recommend just avoiding the thought of labor and delivery until the moment it arrives. There are many excellent resources and birth courses out that that help you prepare yourself for the intensity, beauty, unexpected, and sometimes trauma that can come with labor and delivery. Here are some of my favorite resources:

Labor and delivery can be VERY unpredictable. But there’s also a *lot* you can do to keep yourself grounded even when you don’t know what to exactly expect. You’ve got this mama.

Postpartum recoveryPrepping for Postpartum

Eventually, labor and delivery will be over, and it’s on to the postpartum season! For many moms, this part is much harder. Your hormones come crashing down, you’re physically recovering, exhausted, and learning to take care of this new tiny human. It’s a lot. Here’s a list of some random things I recommend having on hand to make the postpartum season just a bit easier:

  • Freezer meals: you can either start making these now during the end of your pregnancy, or you can ask family and friends to bring freezer meals for you after the baby arrives. But trust me, you will not want to spend an hour each night trying to figure out what to eat. Freezer meals are THE BEST.
  • Organic cotton disposable underwear: the disposable underwear they give you at the hospital may be convenient, but it’s full of nasty toxins that I don’t want touching my sensitive lady parts as they are healing. I LOVED these disposable pairs from Rael.
  • Period Underwear: another fantastic and non-toxic option for postpartum bleeding. I am obsessed with this brand - I literally own every kind of underwear they sell!
  • High-quality protein powder: it is incredibly important that you are being well-fed and nourishing during the postpartum season. A lot of postpartum mood swings can be attributed to under-eating, as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. A high quality protein powder can be a quick and easy way to pack in a filling, nutritious smoothie when you’re in a pinch. I love this grassfed beef protein powder from Equip (use code KVG for 15% off!)
  • Organic cotton robe: I literally lived in this amazingly comfy and toxin-free robe for 2 months after giving birth. It’s absolutely the best thing in my wardrobe.
  • A newborn wrap: for me, babywearing was one of the sweetest parts about that initial postpartum season. I wore my daughter in a newborn wrap pretty much all day long for several weeks. It was such a bonding experience for us, and I really loved these soft, beautiful wraps from Solly Baby.


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**Please note, nothing in this article is medical advice; it is purely educational. Consult with your healthcare provider if you have questions.


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Meet Kristen van Gilse!


Kristen is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and holistic living enthusiast, with a passion for birth photography. Kristen's journey from illness to wellness led her to embrace toxin-free living. She shares her expertise through photography services and valuable tips for holistic living.

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