Stop work about a month before your due date if you possibly can. You simply don’t need deadline stress and other people imposing their priorities on you when you are about to undergo a life changing event!
Having more time and the mental and physical space to settle into your own body, and tune into the baby, is invaluable.
You could also stock the freezer, bank up some sleep, and find out about local post birth groups so you know where to go if you need support afterwards. And get a haircut…
Explore what helps you relax best. Likely a combination of both gentle, regular physical activity, and rest. This will set you up to labour well.
Gentle regular activity will tune you in to how you feel physically, which is a good place to prepare for a birth from.
Resting while lying on your left side can help ease fatigue and aches and pains. You can pump your feet up and down in this position to ease any swelling, and monitor your breathing here too. Being relaxed will allow your body to adjust to the growing baby by allowing your bones, muscles and ligaments to respond to your internal hormonal state.
Learn to breathe well
Hypnobirthing is a well known and trusted method of preparing for labouring. How we breathe can profoundly affect how well we feel. It can affect how much energy we have and our sense of control in difficult situations. It can even help digestion, reflux and ankle swelling.
Good breathing should synchronise the pelvic floor and diaphragm, helping to return fluid from the legs back into circulation. It also gently oscillates the ligaments that support the uterus and helps sphincter function. Your osteopath will be able to help you with this, or check out local hypnobirthing teachers and online courses. An experienced practitioner can tell you how well they think you are breathing, and how it can be improved.
Good positions to practice breathing in are lying on your left side; kneeling with knees wide, or supporting arms and tipped forward eg onto the end of a bed or table.
There are many ways of understanding your own mindset better. You could try mindfulness? The main thing is to develop some self awareness about how you are feeling in your body, and to become more aware of the baby as well. You can do this by sitting or lying quietly, observing your breathing and checking in with how each bit of your body feels, and even talking to your baby. When they are born they already know your voice…
Giving birth requires trusting both your body and the professional help around you. It is neither a matter of will power and determination, nor surrendering responsibility to someone else. We have been doing this for millennia, and we can all labour well in the right conditions, our bodies know what to do. Aim to strike a balance between what you can do for yourself, and what you need help with. It is helpful to know what to expect, but not helpful to feel frightened of it. If you find that you are fearful, talk it through with someone you trust, till you can feel more trusting of your body, the support you have in place, and the process itself. Come the moment there is a need to simply accept what is happening, and allow it to happen. An extraordinary experience to be had, a miracle unfolding.