But one thing you don't hear about enough is sex.
Just think for a minute. If you are enjoying sex, regardless of being pregnant or not, the circulation to your vulva, labia, vagina, and perineum increases. When a woman is sexually stimulated, she gets the equivalent of a male erection when her organs fill with blood and swell.
When tissues have increased blood flow, not only are they healthier, but they are able to mend and heal faster if they are injured, and they are strengthened from the inside out, so that the tissues are less likely to be injured or torn.
I know for me, sex does more than just tone my vaginal muscles. If I have a headache or feel sick, or just feel off, an orgasm and sex can do wonders! I have more energy, whatever ickiness I was feeling is gone, plus, it was just fun. It could be just me, but it is just an added bonus to sex.
When you are pregnant, depending on your hormones, you may be more randy than you have ever been, or you may want to stay very far away from any touching. With my daughter, I couldn't have enough sex. With my son, though the bedrest could have been a factor too, I didn't even want to be looked at, let alone touched.
If you are among the first group, all the benefits from having sex regularly while pregnant are just icing on the cake. You are going out of whack as it is, and most times you would do anything for some tail. If you are among the second group, hopefully some of this information will help you want to have some sex, even if it doesn't sound that appealing.
When women have an orgasm, especially when pregnant, it causes the walls of the vagina to contract and release, and the same for the uterus. Think of it as kegels that are much more enjoyable and you don't have to concentrate to do them.
When you exercise your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles, everything gets tighter, more blood flows, and the tissues strengthen. With the extra blood flow, they get more oxygen, which is key in strengthening and toning muscles in the body.
One thing a lot of women worry about is tearing while having a vaginal birth. They hear so many horror stories about incontinence and surgeries and pain that they want to run as far away as possible from vaginal birth. Nicole at Bellies and Babies wrote a great post on Episiotomies and Tears a bit ago, which has incredible information on both and how you can help your body prepare for birth and prepare your tissues so they won't tear.
When women hear about tearing, they are often told that they might not stretch or they need to do perineal massage through pregnancy to tone her muscles to stretch. Not only is perineal massage very uncomfortable, it can cause damage if you do it wrong or with a woman that isn't fully relaxed while it happens.
So, a much better option is, drumroll please, sex!
Having a healthy and active sex life is fun, but it can make a couple more knowledgeable about her vagina and perineum. If a woman knows what makes her perineum stretch and loosen, and tighten and strengthen, she will be more able to control that while pushing and during labor. If a woman is knowledgeable about her own body, and her partner is also, it can make pushing that much more personal for both parents.
If a woman and her partner know how to massage and relax her pelvic floor during sex, they are more apt to try that during labor. Ina May Gaskin often talks about how kissing during labor can strengthen contractions and make labor pleasurable, and if they know how to relax her perineum in addition, what better way to spend your labor?
Your body knows what to do, and all you have to do is work with it. And if you know your own body, and your partner knows your body, it can make it that much easier to understand and work with during labor.
You are meeting your baby for the first time. I don't see why it is taboo to want that baby to come into the same love that created it.