A golden rule for safety is to never vaginal steam while pregnant. However, there is indeed one exception: yoni steaming for labor preparation.
The reason we don't steam while pregnant is because steam helps the uterus clear and cleanse. So while a baby is incubating in the womb, we want them to focus on their development and safely nuzzle into their first home. However, once the babe is ready to meet the wider world, we can then safely support that readiness through the practice of vaginal steaming.
Here is how to safely and intentionally use holistic practices, including yoni steaming, for labor preparation:
Four weeks prior to your due date, start prioritizing the three critical supporting factors for labor readiness:
Dryness can stall labor. Two signs of dehydration include constipation and dry lips and dry skin.
You'll want to support healthy digestion and bm's that are smooth and formed, doing your best to avoid dry pellets. If you’re having regular bowel movements, it’s a good indication of sufficient hydration.
The skin and lips should be moist without having to apply lotion or oil. These are all great indicators that the birthing person is lubricated enough for labor.
You can support lubrication through hydrating foods and fluids. So start eating moisturizing foods a month prior to due date. Lots of water and fluids (bone broth), juicy fruits (moisturizing), goji berries (good at toning the kidneys for overall moisturizing), tapioca, gelatin, chia seeds (pudding or drink), boba tea, and green smoothies, as well as oatmeal. All of this can be eaten every day (be careful to not eat too much sugar).
Keep the yoni lubricated with coconut oil and/or almond oil, which will support labor preparation and minimize tearing.
Circulation is the opposite of stagnation, which is a normal part of pregnancy. Signs of stagnation include swelling, shooting pains, and brain fog.
Below are tools to encourage circulation. Let your intuition and the needs of the present moment guide you through these considerations.
Acupuncture: Set up four weekly acupuncture appointments before due date.
Spicy foods are great for creating circulation. If it is making you sweat, it is a good sign that circulation is happening.
Emmenagogue teas: motherwort, green tea, and black tea, and black cohosh. You can drink motherwort tea throughout the day, best room temp or warm for circulation.
Cardio. Get music going, blood flow, dancing. Speed walk. Trying to get cardio in whilst honoring that the body is heavy.
Massage. Really good for improving circulation.
Warm bath or warm shower.
Warm/hot shower squat. Can be useful to get the cervix to open - basically taking deep steady squats in the shower.
SEX: If you desire. Sex and orgasm is a tool for circulation and relaxation. Sex with lots of massage and with the emphasis on soothing and relaxation. The reason sex works for labor preparation is because it can be super relaxing. However, if you're not genuinely feel calling towards sex there is, as always, no need to "should" yourself or stress yourself into sexual activity as that is negating your embodied truth and counter productive. However, if your mojo is up, by all means enjoy a good ole romp.
Relaxation is the foundation of release and what allows the cervix to open. Journaling out any anxieties and issues and having nurturing and nourishing conversations is great.
Shaking leaf exercise: This is a Chi Gong exercise. Relax the muscles and let them shake out. Basically just shake shake shake your limbs. It can look and feel a bit goofy but it is super for circulation and then relaxation. If you have the stamina you can do this for 10-20 minutes at a time.
Also, remember to get lots and LOTS rest, whenever possible. You are about to bring a human into the world - take a nap!
VAGINAL STEAMING FOR LABOR PREPARATION
Vaginal steaming is a labor preparation trifecta!
Yoni steaming may support lubrication (steam supports moisture), circulation (heat supports increased blood flow), and relaxation (steaming soothes body and cervix which is necessary for its opening.)
What you need to know for vaginal steaming for labor preparation:
Firstly, confirm with your inner wisdom and trusted advisors that your baby is ready for release into the world.
When to start yoni steaming for labor preparation:
Generally after 37 weeks of pregnancy, the baby is fully developed and ready to be born. At this time, and no earlier, it is safe to gently yoni steam for labor preparation. As always, working with a trusted and trained vaginal steam practitioner is advised. Your practitioner will be able to cater your herbs, yoni steam schedule, and other holistic labor preparation support specifically to you.
You may choose to yoni steam one or two weeks prior to your due date. If you've experienced uterine fatigue, often indicated by cycles 27 days and shorter, please wait to yoni steam until one week before your due date. However, if you are prone to stagnation or longer cycles of 28 + days you may choose to steam two weeks prior to your due date.
Yoni Steam Set-up for Labor Preparation: Please choose a mild steam-set up of ten minutes. You don’t want the steam to be too hot for the baby. Keep the heat level super gentle so that if you were imagining the steam to touch the baby you would be confident that it would feel lovely and soothing, but never too hot, for them.
Yoni Steam Herbs for Labor Preparation: Kitara's Refresh Cooling herbs are well suited for yoni steaming for labor preparation. In late pregnancy the body is often heating up and the Kitara Refresh organic yoni steam herb blend supports cooling and release. If you're choosing a single herb, nettles are helpful for adding moisture to the body, lavender supports relaxation, and rose nurtures release. It is also fine to yoni steam with only water and skip yoni steam herbs for labor preparation.
As you get closer or beyond the due date, you can steam with more cleansing herbs, such as motherwort and extra rose or Kitara's Release Cleansing Organic Yoni Steam Herbs.
How often to yoni steam for labor preparation:
After you are cleared to yoni steam towards the very end of your pregnancy, you may choose to steam once a day. Yoni steaming is soothing and you may find that you crave more. So if called, you may choose the 10 minute mild yoni steam set up for up to three times per day. Additional yoni steams are not advised because we don't want to add too much heat to the body. So keep it mild, gentle, and extra soothing.
If you make it to your due date, you may choose to steam 2-3 x day and use the Release Cleansing Herbs.
After 37 weeks, once the baby is fully developed and the baby is meant to be born, then it is safe to steam daily. And if you feel called, you can steam up to three times per day. Always keeping the heat of the steam nice and mild + extra soothing.
What to wear while yoni steaming for labor preparation:
Attire: Pregnancy heats the body, so I invite you to yoni steam naked (but wear cozy socks/slippers for grounding) unless you are cold. Lightweight organic robes and towels are a nice treat too.
A note on vaginal steaming for early labor:
If you are experiencing Braston Hicks, the little (but often loud!) contractions, they are likely showing that the uterus is trying to make some space and you can steam during them. During active labor, if you want to yoni steam you can do so mildly and gently and with support of your midwife or vaginal steam practitioner. However most birthing folks opt out of yoni steaming at this time as there is plenty else going on. That said and if contractions stop, yoni steaming may be supportive of reigniting active labor.
When possible, soak in the opportunities to get rest. I mentioned that right?;) Rest, rest, rest.
Wishing you and your babe a happy and healthy delivery and sending so much love for their arrival.
Thank you Keli Garza of Steamy Chick for your courses which are foundational to this and many other Kitara posts.
Artwork by Dora Kisteleki