How to have an easier and shorter labor

Improve your odds of having an easier, shorter labor by incorporating these healthy habits during your third trimester:

1. Drink lots of water. Lots. More water = shorter labor.

2. Walk all the time, slowly, constantly and with wide legs – this helps the baby descend better.  I recommend three 30 minute walks a day.

3. Have a lot of sex in the last month. There is a hormone in semen that softens the cervix and helps it open more, preparing for birth. This does not sound like the most awesome of tasks when you are 36 – 40 weeks pregnant, but it works.

4. Moisturize ‘that area’ with vitamin E that has safflower oil every night while sleeping (drench a cotton ball or makeup pad with it).  This prevents (and I apologize for even bringing it up) … tearing.

5. Sit with legs open as much as possible – it helps loosen the ligaments and makes it easier for the pelvis to open on up. And daily cat/cows help, too.

6. Drink red raspberry leaf tea. Raspberry leaf has long been used to treat a variety of women's problems including menstrual issues; it also has the added benefit of strengthening the uterus and decreasing the risk of bleeding and haemorrage during and after birth. Stronger uterine muscles achieve more with each contraction, which generally shortens labor times.

The tablet form is far stronger than the tea. You can start taking the tea or pills as early as 32 weeks - starting too late will decrease the chance they will help when labor begins. Be aware of taking too much - it can also cause mild contractions. It should also NOT be used before 35 weeks if you are at risk of preterm labor or have an irritable uterus.

7. Take Evening Primrose Oil. Evening primrose oil can be used from 35 weeks. The oil is high in the omega 6 fatty acid gammalinolenic acid (GLA), which is converted in your body to prostaglandin, a natural form of the gel that is often inserted during a medical induction of labor. Its main function is to soften the cervix, meaning that your body will have to do less work to dilate you to the full requirement for birth.

8. Get acupuncture

9. Massage acupoints Spleen 6 and LI 4. This is safe after 39 weeks. These points can also help to induce labor, so don't do it before then.

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