Natural birth is a choice for many women, especially the ones who understand the benefits of having it. On the other hand, some women also choose a C – section if they fear childbirth. However, it is important to prepare yourself for a natural birth during childbirth, something which often many women don’t do.
Women over 35 years of age would need to put slightly more effort to prepare themselves for a natural childbirth as compared to the ones in their 20s.
As women age, their metabolism slows down and they tend to put on more weight easily. Add to this the hormonal changes that begin above 35 years. They get amplified during pregnancy and lead to more mood swings, irritation, anger and anxiousness.
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More importantly, the chances of conceiving also reduces with age in women. So, preparation for childbirth should begin at the pre-conception level for women above the age of 35. Let’s get to the very basics of the preparation.
If you are overweight, shed some kilos as pregnancy will make you gain more weight and excessive weight gain in pregnancy can cause more complications like gestational diabetes or gestational hypertension.
Follow a healthy diet, indulge in lots of salad, fruits , protein and take some supplements, especially folic acid and calcium, after consulting your obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN).
Quit smoking and alcohol as well before planning a baby. Once your lifestyle has been fixed, continue the same even during pregnancy to improve the chances of having a natural delivery.
- Exercise, but only after consultation with your antenatal expert. Follow a diet under their guidance and keep a track of your weight gain (too much of sudden weight gain in pregnancy needs to be avoided).
Women above 35 also have common joint or muscle-related pains and aches. Exercise well to strengthen your joints and muscles to avoid injuries during labour which could worsen your pains.
- Build up your stamina - good stamina is very important for a natural delivery and to be able to push and breathe properly in labour.
- Follow the scanning and investigations as explained by your OBGYN to avoid any last minute complication or any issue with the baby’s health which can lead to an emergency C-section.
- Prepare for childbirth with your perinatal expert along with your husband.
- Stay calm and relaxed throughout pregnancy to teach your body relaxation for labour.
- Take care of your posture to avoid the back strain due to the bump that grows as the baby grows.
- Learn the right sleeping posture to avoid joint pain, again, very common in many pregnant moms-to-be.
- Walking in third trimester is good to prepare for a natural childbirth. A 30-minute-walk is good everyday. It could be done by taking breaks in between. Consult your OBGYN before making part of your routine.
- If you are a working woman , take small walk breaks every hour, don’t remain seated for long hours as that reduces blood circulation in the body. Keep a foot rest under your desk to keep your feet elevated. This helps in reducing swelling in the feet.
- Avoid excessive salt and sweet intake to prevent gestational hypertension and gestational diabetes. In both the cases chances of having a natural childbirth is lesser.
- Drink lots of water to stay well hydrated.
- Take good sunlight exposure everyday for about 30 minutes to maintain good Vitamin D levels in your body that will strengthen both your bones and joints.
Follow all the above points, but also remember that every pregnancy is different.
Also, remember there is a higher possibility of a C-section in pregnancies that have been conceived with IVF. Try to stay healthy and fit during pregnancy to reduce the chances of complications which shall also help in increasing the chances of having not just a natural childbirth, but also in easing and reducing the duration of labour.
(The author is a women and child wellness consultant at the BirthRight and Rainbow Children’s hospital in Delhi.)
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