Keeping your body healthy during pregnancy is important for both your health and your baby’s, and as you approach your due date, daily habits can help to prepare your body for an easier childbirth experience. Here are some evidence-based doula tips to incorporate into your birth prep routine. Stay until the end to download our printable Third Trimester Habit Tracker.
Hydrate: Drink 8-12 cups of water a day to keep your body hydrated and prepared for your big day.
During pregnancy, your core temperature is elevated by 0.4 degrees. While this may not seem like much, it can lead to more sweating, which means you also need to drink more water than usual to keep your body running for two. It is recommended that you drink 8 to 12 cups of water (64 to 96 ounces) a day during pregnancy. (1) The recommendation increases to 13 cups a day while chestfeeding!
Drinking enough water helps your body better absorb nutrients and vitamins from the nutritious food you are eating and from your prenatal vitamins. Not only that, but staying hydrated can help ease a lot of the common pregnancy symptoms that you might struggle with; such as swelling constipation, headaches and can even fatigue. If you are pregnant during a hot summer, or if you are continuing to exercise into your third trimester, make sure you are replenishing fluids often and paying attention to how your body feels.
If you don’t love the thought of drinking 10 cups of water a day, here are some doula tips to help make it a little bit easier:
If you struggle with nausea, drink your water slowly and avoid gulping. Help your body stay hydrated by consuming other easy-to-digest and hydrating foods like soups, smoothies and fruits!
Get a large water bottle or straw-cup and keep it next to you at all times! Fill it up with water in the morning and sip throughout the day. Getting a water bottle with cup measurements can be really helpful for tracking your water intake.
Flavour your water naturally by adding frozen fruits, cucumbers, lime or lemons and herbs like mint or rosemary.
Make sure to hydrate, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Thirst is not a reliable indicator for how hydrated (or dehydrated) your body is, and many people don’t feel thirsty until their body is already lacking fluids.
Staying hydrated continues to be important once you go into labour, as contractions are hard work! And you need to replenish your body by drinking water, clear fluids like coconut water and/or ice chips.
If you already struggle to even remember to take your daily prenatal vitamin, then you are probably thinking how you will also remember all these new habits… I have designed a Habit Tracker to help you remember these daily habits in your last trimester. This tracker is especially helpful in those last weeks of pregnancy, where it can feel like you need to be doing something and you are counting down the days to meet your baby. You can download the Third Trimester Habit Tracker and printable guide of Daily Habits at the end of this blog.
Eat Dates: 7 Dates a day can help prepare your uterus for childbirth and help you avoid an induction.
Dates contain a high amount of carbs and fats, and 15 different types of proteins, minerals and vitamins, like vitamin B1, B2, B7, Vitamin C and folic acid. These are essential to a healthy pregnancy and fetal development. (2)In the Quran, dates are written to be one of the best foods to eat for childbirth. Studies show that eating 7 dates daily (65-80g) leading to birth can help dilate the cervix before childbirth, shorten early labour, decrease the need for labour induction and/or augmentation with pitocin and increase the chance of having a vaginal birth after induction. There is preliminary data, based on a small study, that shows eating dates immediately after labour can help to minimize blood loss after birth which may reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.(3)
Eat your dates by adding them to smoothies, with almond butter, in “Date Bites” or straight out of the package for a nutritious pregnancy snack. Dates are often grown with few or no pesticides, so don’t worry about buying organic.
If you have gestational diabetes, consult your doctor about the safety of consuming dates, as they have a high sugar content.
Have a cup (or three) of Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: RRL can prepare your uterus for birth and improve birth outcomes.
Red raspberry leaf contains Vitamin A, C, and E, calcium, iron and potassium. You may have heard it as a recommendation for inducing labour, but RRL is actually a uterine tonic, it helps to prepare your body for birth by increasing blood circulation to the uterus and preparing the pelvic muscles for contracting during labour. (4) The recommended amount is 1 to 3 cups of tea a day during pregnancy.
Throughout history, Red raspberry leaf (RRL) has been used as a pregnancy tea to aid morning sickness, and to prevent miscarriage and post-dates pregnancies and we have science to back-up this ancient knowledge.
A 1999 study showed that RRL can help to shorten labour, and decrease the likelihood of a premature birth, postdates pregnancy (going past due date) and the need for medical interventions (like artificial rupture of membranes (AROM), forceps, vacuum or cesarean birth. (5)
Keep an eye on the sugar! When having 3 cups of tea a day, sugar can add up quickly! Consider replacing honey or agave as your tea’s sweetener. If you're pregnant during the summer, iced raspberry leaf tea with lemon, mint leaves and honey can be refreshing and hydrating (and a favourite of mine during my pregnancy).
Walk: A daily walk during pregnancy has many benefits for your body and for your baby