14/04/2016 13:03 BST | Updated 12/04/2017 06:12 BST

Five Things to Do in the Build Up to Labour and Birth

There are many lists of things that you should do before you have your bundle of joy in your arms, a lot of them are very practical like getting the house cleaned and in order, unpacking and washing all the baby clothes, getting the nursery ready, checking through your birth plan and packing the all-important hospital bag. There are a few things however that aren't essential and don't revolve entirely around the baby, well, not as much! Sometimes it can feel that you are no longer a person but rather just a carry unit for the baby that everyone is so eager to meet. Here are 5 little things to do for yourself before your baby arrives.

  1. Yoga. Soft gentle stretches that help build muscle strength and endurance. Labour and birth can be quick but it can also be long, difficult and very much a task of endurance. Yoga teaches you to find a peaceful place, it helps with keeping your breathing steady and most of all will help you to stay focused and relaxed. There are many courses designed especially for pregnancy yoga, the instructors are trained to give you the best advice on stretches and positions for you and your growing bump. According to Mayo Clinic, prenatal yoga can be a great way to prepare for childbirth.
  2. Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. This one might seem like a bit of an old wives' tale but many women have reported on shorter more comfortable labours. It's said that Red Raspberry Leaf Tea can strengthen the uterus in the run up to labour and after birth it may help your uterus contract back down quickly and help with breastfeeding. Although not everyone enjoys the taste initially adding a spoon full of honey makes it a little bit sweeter. Speak to your midwife or consultant before taking anything during pregnancy and make sure it's the right thing for you. It is usually recommended to be taken later in pregnancy when you're that little bit closer to your big day.
  3. Get a Massage. During your final few weeks, muscles are tights, aches and pains can make the time drag on. Getting a qualified person to give you a relaxing massage can do wonders for how you feel. Back and feet are very popular places to get a massage while pregnant as they both take a lot of strain during that time. If your budget can't quite stretch to a qualified masseuse, then perhaps attend a few local antenatal massage classes and your partner can learn some techniques that can be used during labour too. To read more about massage in pregnancy take a look at the Pregnancy Massage page from Web MD.
  4. Eat Well. We are all guilty of chomping on one too many chocolate bars during the early stages where energy is low and tiredness kicks in. In the run up to labour, this is even more true. The final few weeks take a lot of energy and getting a good night's sleep isn't always possible, eating fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking plenty of water will get your body into a really great place, if you find yourself reaching for the biscuit tin, reconsider and opt for some sweet strawberries, grapes or bananas. The NHS has a great Healthy Diet During Pregnancy page to give you some more tips.
  5. Get your nails done. This one might seem a little pointless, but taking some time out of your day to have your nails done and a hand massage by someone else is incredibly relaxing. If your budget doesn't stretch that far or you aren't in the mood to have other people around you, then maybe take some time out of your day to sit down and do you finger nails yourself and call in your partner or a friend to do your toes to match. Once the baby comes along this sort of thing might be on the back burner for a while, a lot of new parents don't have time for the little things they used to do before. Glamour might be the last thing on your mind during birth but feeling a little bit more yourself afterwards can do you the world of good. Do this one in your last week or so to avoid chips and scuffs.

Read more from Zara at mojoblogs.co.uk