Let's be honest. Until labor is actually completed by storks carrying babies in beautiful cloth through the air and delivery is catching the baby as the bird lands, it's never really going to be "easy." But there are some things you can do in the third trimester to make labor and delivery easier, even if it doesn't require a giant bird or a well-balanced cloth carrier to hold your baby.
That third trimester is no joke. You're exhausted, but you can't get comfortable. You have a ton of stuff to do, but you're physically unable to stand on a ladder and paint the nursery. You want to give birth to your baby, but you're also legit terrified of labor. Trust me, if you haven't thought simultaneously "Oh I can be pregnant forever, this is fine" and "Holy shit, I do not want to be pregnant a second longer", it's coming. The third trimester basically nukes all of the wires to your emotions so you just feel like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when her house is flying through a tornado.
But seriously, there are some things you can try in the third trimester to (hopefully) make labor and delivery easier. And the best part is that some of these are things you're already doing. (Except eating abundant amounts of Chipotle — that's not a way to help labor.) There's no guarantee they'll work, but hey, get used to that. It's what being a parent is all about — never actually knowing if what you're doing is working.
1. Get Some Sleep
I know — sleep isn't exactly easy during the third trimester, but it could make a difference in your labor and delivery. But according to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who slept less than six hours at night had longer labors and were four and a half times more likely to have a C-section. Moms-to-be with severely disturbed sleep also had longer labors and were over five times more likely to have a C-section.
2. Work It Out
Here comes the work part, right? But you don't have to become a gym rat to reap some benefits. The American Pregnancy Association (APA) noted that regular activity not only keeps you fit during pregnancy, but it could also improve your ability to "cope with labor." Prenatal yoga is a great choice, but so is some light cardio or your favorite prenatal fitness video. Just make sure to talk to your healthcare provider before trying anything too extreme.
3. Give Yourself A Perineal Massage
You know what doesn't make a labor or delivery easy? Tearing. So do a little prep work during the third trimester to avoid that at all costs. According to Mayo Clinic, a perineal massage can help the flexibility and stretch in that area so you can avoid a tear and stitches. Parents also recommended giving yourself a perineal massage four to six weeks before delivery with an oil or water-based lubricant 10 to 15 minutes each day.
4. Do Your Kegels
Your Kegel exercises aren't just done to recover from labor — they could also help you get through delivery. The APA noted that women who perform Kegel exercises during pregnancy often find they have an "easier birth," and that strengthening those pelvic floor muscles can help you develop the ability to control your muscles during labor and delivery.
5. Practice Breathing
Those movie scenes where the woman is huffing and puffing during labor? They're pretty helpful. But don't go blindly into your labor without some practice breaths. Parents recommended that around eight weeks before your due date, you should start practicing some breathing techniques so you can inhale and exhale your way through labor.
6. Make A Birth Plan
There's a lot of things that can happen during labor and delivery, so a birth plan should never be etched in stone, but it can be incredibly helpful during labor and make it so that your birth goes as smoothly as possible. According to the APA, having a birth plan can make everyone feel more relaxed and less stressed, giving you an easier delivery than if you just decided to wing it.
7. Take A Childbirth Class
And finally, you should consider taking a childbirth class. Mayo Clinic suggested that a childbirth class not only prepares you for the challenges of labor and delivery, but it also gives you a chance to talk about pain relief and address any fears you may have. Basically, it makes labor and delivery seem a little less daunting. (But not much more because, you know, it's still labor and delivery.)