How to Prepare for ANY Birth

Heading to the hospital, or setting up a birthing station at home? Scheduled a C-section, or preparing for vaginal delivery? Whatever your preferences and plans, there are a few basic things that can go a long way in ensuring the most positive experience for all involved…

Assemble the Right Team

You need to have people around you who you feel supported by. It’s important to remember that, while a midwife and your doctor both have important roles to play in your delivery, each will approach the birthing process quite differently.

It can also be helpful to see a pelvic physiotherapist during your pregnancy, and when preparing for delivery. Going into birth understanding your pelvic floor is fundamental to the process, as well as to your recovery.

A little insight into the pelvic floor: it creates a synergy between the back, abdominal muscles, and hips for daily movement. It supports the bladder, bowel, and uterus, and helps to keep these organs in place. It also plays a role in pain-free and pleasurable sex, and in the maintenance of continence (i.e. to keep you from ‘leaking’!).  

A specialised physiotherapist can also assist with all the pregnancy aches and pains leading up to the birth, helping you to modify your exercise and daily activities to reduce discomfort, as well as to adjust and support your bladder and bowel habits during this time.

Other invaluable pregnancy and birthing preparation team members can include a psychologist, dietician, lactation specialist, yoga and Pilates instructor, and a doula, to name just a few.

Preparing for a C-Section

When readying your body and mind for a C-section, you won’t be preparing for labour, but for major abdominal surgery. Being physically active during your pregnancy can put you at a significant advantage, and aid recovery. 150 minutes of low-to-moderate exercise a week is ideal. Many women opt for pre-natal yoga and Pilates, which they know to be safe during pregnancy. 

Although you won’t be going into labour, practising mindful breathing in the lead-up to the procedure can help you to calm your mind, connect to the present, and let go of excess anxiety and fear. Asking your healthcare provider about the possibility of bringing your own music to the delivery room can further help to put you at ease.

Your pelvic physiotherapist can educate you on supportive movement, as well as on how to deal with things like coughing, using the bathroom, bed mobility, and general daily activities post-delivery.

Planning a C-section gives you ample time to prepare and make all the necessary appointments. You can also set boundaries around your time, as well as prepare meals in advance, set up a hydration station, delegate household chores, etc. Have open discussions with your partner and/or support structure beforehand, and remember to be realistic about your limitations post-surgery.


A few post-partum essentials after C-section delivery include:


  • High-waisted, soft cotton underwear or adult diapers
  • A towel/pillow as a buddy support
  • A peri bottle
  • Compression stockings
  • A squatty potty
  • A belly band
  • A hydration and snack station
  • A happy hugger

Preparing for a Vaginal Delivery


Prepping for labour starts early in pregnancy. It’s important to be consistently physically fit/active throughout your pregnancy, as labour requires stamina! Doing exercise like pre-natal yoga or Pilates two to three times a week and low-to-moderate cardio (like walking) 150 minutes a week can aid a positive pregnancy.


Your pelvic physiotherapist can support you in strengthening your pelvic floor until 28 weeks, and in easing the training to aid relaxation from there. Perineal massage from 36 weeks as well as training in birthing positions can also help to reduce discomfort.


When you’re planning to go through labour, it is essential to let your partner, midwife, doula, doctor, and family members know how important it will be for them to offer a calming, positive presence on the day.  When it comes to your own internal strength, this can be greatly assisted through a regular meditation and breathing practice (or even exploring hypno-birthing) leading up to the big day.


A few post-partum essentials after vaginal delivery include:


  • A donut ring or rolled up towels to sit on
  • Adult diapers (these also give your tummy some support)
  • Frozen padsicles
  • A sitz salt bath set-up
  • A peri bottle 
  • A squatty potty
  • A hydration and snack station
  • A happy hugger


Lauren Ellis is a physiotherapist who is passionate about nurturing women into motherhood. She is the owner of the Lauren Ellis Physiotherapist Practice, and the Chairlady of the Pelvic and Women’s Health Special Interest group for the South African Physiotherapy Society. For more information or to get in touch, find her @laurenellisphysio on Instagram, or at

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