Really? A Shorter Labor?
Yes, you read that right! While labor will never be a piece of cake, it is completely possible to take action to make your labor shorter and easier.
I come from a family where the women experienced crazy long labors. Like I’m telling you 18-36 hours. Superwomen much? Seriously, they are heroes. I was expecting to have a very long labor as well as it seemed to just be a part of my gene pool. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I clocked in at 7 hours! I felt like I won the lottery…and I totally attribute this to the secrets I share below.
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About Your Labor
The word “labor” was chosen to describe the act of childbirth on purpose. It is no easy feat! Your body is doing an incredible thing and it is something you will look back on in awe.
There are three stages of labor that you should know and understand.
The first stage includes three phases of labor: the Early Stage, the Active Stage, and the Transition Stage. In the Early Stage, your cervix is just beginning to dilate. This could happen over the course of hours or even days! Your hospital or birth center will most likely tell you to go home and relax until you enter the next phase of labor.
The Active Stage is when your contractions are longer and stronger while occurring more frequently. When you have consistent contractions that are 4 minutes apart, you will want to start heading to your hospital/birth center.
The Transition Stage is the building up to the point where you are getting ready to push. Your contractions will be intense and very close together. This phase concludes the first stage of labor.
The second stage of labor is when you are delivering your baby! This part of your labor can take a while too. You will be pushing with each contraction you have as your baby is descending down your birth canal, until they pop out!
The final stage of labor is when you deliver the placenta. You probably won’t even realize this is happening as you will hopefully already be snuggling your baby for some skin-to-skin time.
The Best Secrets to Shorten your Labor
Please remember, I am not a medical professional! It is important to check with your doctor before trying any of these methods to make sure that they are the best fit for you and your pregnancy.
1. Start Seeing a Chiropractor
If there is one thing that I can recommend the most, it would be to start seeing a chiropractor. Make sure that you find a chiropractor that specializes in prenatal care as there is a gentler method to chiropractic care for prenatal patients that doesn’t involve popping and cracking.
I first began seeing the chiropractor when I was 13 weeks pregnant for these intense migraines I was having. They were some of the worst migraines I had ever had and got to the point where my neck was so tender I could barely turn it or touch it. When I found my chiropractor, I was pleasantly surprised at the other benefits for pregnant women.
Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Prenatal women
- Ease morning sickness
- Relieve tension in the back
- Help release ligaments and muscles that tighten from widening pelvis (which helps better prepare your body for birth and support the best positioning for baby)
- Relieve other pregnancy pains like migraines, nausea, joint pain, etc.
…and the one you have all been waiting for…
- Shorten labor! Research has shown that regular visits to the chiropractor throughout the duration of your pregnancy can help shorten labor by up to 6-8 hours! On average women who receive chiropractic care have labors that last on average for 8-9 hours. Women who do not receive chiropractic care have an average labor of 14 hours (source). My doctor boasts and 7 hour average in his patients, which is what I clocked in at!
The key is to start your care as early as possible, but it is never too late!
2. Targeted Exercise
Exercising throughout your pregnancy is just as important as at any other point during your life. However, there are specific, targeted exercises you can do to help prepare your body for labor. Here are the top three that I did every day:
Kegels are a specific exercise that help strengthen your pelvic floor. In order to figure out exactly what muscles you are targeting, think of how you would stop yourself from peeing in the middle of urination. Certain muscles tighten in your pelvic floor in order to be able to do that. You want to replicate that action in order to do a kegel. Contract those muscles for 5 seconds and then release. Ideally, try to do three sets of 15 reps daily. I like to do them while watching Netflix=)
Squats are a great way to strengthen the muscles you will be using to push during labor. A specific type of squat that was recommended to me by my chiropractor is to actually bring your booty all the way down to the ground. I would hold onto the back of my couch for balance and really focus on contracting my pelvic floor muscles when bringing myself back up to stand. Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps every day!
3. Pelvic Tilts (Cat/Cow Position in Yoga)
This exercise is perfect for stretching out your ligaments and muscles in your lower back and pelvic region. First, get down on all fours. Make sure you are supported by something comfy underneath your knees such as a yoga mat, towel, etc. Next, drop your belly and lift your head to look up, feeling the stretch in your abdomen. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Then, lower your head and round out your back, feeling the stretch in your lower back and the back of your neck. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat this flow 10 times daily.
3. Incorporate Dates into your Diet
At around 35 weeks, start eating dates every day. I opted for the bigger medjool dates and tried to consume 3-4 a day. Multiple studies have shown women who eat dates are less likely to need to be induced and more likely to have quicker dilation leading to a shorter labor (source). It also has been shown to decrease the duration of labor (YESS!!!) and decrease the need to have oxytocin to speed up labor (source).
My Favorite Way to Eat Dates
Dates were waayyyy too sweet for me to eat them by themselves so I had to come up with other ways that I could tolerate eating 4 of them a day! Here are my favorite:
This is a superfood smoothie I would have every morning during my last couple of weeks of pregnancy. It’s a Banana Nut Date Smoothie that is delightful as a breakfast treat.
- 2 Medjool dates
- 1 banana
- 1/3 cup of chopped walnuts
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)
Blend dates a little bit first. If you don’t, the smoothie will be a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
There are so many other date smoothie recipes on Pinterest that you can try as well!
Chop up some dates and add them into your favorite oatmeal recipe. I love oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon, dates, walnuts, and sliced bananas on top.
Larabars are a clean snack bar that is made with dates. They are a great way to up your date intake! There are some amazing flavors like Mint Chocolate Chip, Cookie Dough, Blueberry Muffin, and Banana Bread. They are gluten free and vegan as well!
4. Drink Red Raspberry Leaf Tea during your Third Trimester
Around your second trimester, you can start drinking this special tea daily. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea is known to strengthen your uterine wall, which consequently makes your contractions more effective. It tastes like a mix between green and black tea, so it is very earthy. If you aren’t a fan of the earthy taste, try this brand, which infuses some floral notes in the tea. For a more in-depth article on Red Raspberry Leaf Tea and effects on labor, check out Mama Natural.
You Got This, Mama!
I 100% attribute my shorter than average labor to implementing these 4 strategies during my pregnancy. By going to the chiropractor, doing targeted exercises in addition to my regular exercise routine, and adding dates and Red Raspberry Leaf tea to my diet, I felt like my body was fully prepared for childbirth and labor.
Remember, you are strong, capable, and your body was designed to do this. You will be a rockstar when welcoming your new bundle of perfection into the world=)
Do you have any more tips that help with a shorter, easier labor? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!
P.S- Don’t forget to share!