A pregnant woman exercising in her living roomPreparing for labor doesn’t mean just packing your bag for the hospital; you’ll also want to prepare for labor and childbirth.
There are plenty of ways to ensure you have an easier labor and delivery, and almost all of them are done before your contractions start. Here are seven things you can do now for a shorter, easier delivery on labor day.

1. Find the right healthcare professional

If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, now’s the time to find another healthcare provider, one you feel a better connection with and trust. One of the most important preparations for childbirth is to limit fear and anxiety around the process of giving birth. A trusted professional who is well-informed and flexible will help.
But how will you know when you’ve found the right one? Choose someone you feel like you can be totally open with, someone who’s a good communicator from the start. You’ll want to have a good chat about your choices before going into labor.
By talking about this prenatally, you get used to how your attendants respond and communicate so that it won’t surprise you later. Your doctor should support your choices and birth philosophy.

2. Stay in shape

Women who keep fit during their pregnancy typically have shorter labors. That’s because fitness improves your stamina. So it will mean you have enough energy for labor and will be less likely to need medical intervention, such as a C-section. So, after getting your doc’s OK, make sure to do pre-natal yoga, walk, or swim regularly.
Another exercise you’ll want to do is squats to strengthen your legs. Being upright during labor will help move your baby, which requires strong legs.
Here’s how to perform a squat: stand up with your hips back. Keep your back straight and your shoulders and chest up. Look straight ahead. As you bend your knees to squat down, try to keep your knees in line with your feet. Some people reach their arms forward as they squat to maintain balance. Others like to keep their hands on their thighs. Try doing 20 squats to start with and then increase the number later on.

3. Distract yourself

When your contractions start, try to keep calm. If you stress out right away, you’ll wear yourself out. Stay calm with meditation, or try focusing on other activities during early labor: take a walk or a shower.

4. Get lots of sleep

It may be hard to fall asleep towards the end of your pregnancy: you’re having to go to the bathroom lots and just can’t get comfortable. We suggest using body pillows or sleeping in a recliner. Studies have shown that pregnant women who got six hours of sleep or less during their last few weeks of pregnancy were more likely to labor longer.

5. Take a childbirth class

If you know what’s going on in your body during labor, you’ll be much more able to handle it. The stress of not knowing what’s happening may make your delivery longer.
You could bring a friend, your mom, or your partner along to the childbirth class. That way, they can help you through the actual thing. Ask the instructor whatever questions you might have about what happens during labor and what it feels like.

6. Make Healthy Food Choices

Nutrition is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a smooth and healthy birth. Make sure to eat enough protein and leafy-green veggies, and decrease how much sugar you eat. These steps can go a long way to minimize pregnancy-related conditions risks and maximize health. Get recipes here for six surprisingly easy-to-prepare, deliciously healthy foods during your pregnancy.

7. Consider making a birth plan

A great way to help you feel better prepared for the big day is by having a birth plan ahead of time. Are you going to try giving birth without an epidural? Do you want your partner to cut the cord? A birth plan lists the answers to these questions and more.
A birth plan is a chance to let your doctor know where your head is at. Having your preferences listed ahead of time can help make any decisions you may need to make during your birth feel less overwhelming. In addition, creating a birth plan will reduce your anxiety and may bring issues to light that you haven’t yet discussed with your provider.
If you plan to place your baby for adoption, making a hospital plan lets the adoptive family and the hospital staff know exactly how you want your delivery to go. Having your hospital plan in place before you go into labor allows everyone (especially you!) to focus on the birth of your baby. You have many options for your adoption hospital experience. Learn more at LifetimeAdoption.com.