Exercise and pregnancy should really go hand in hand.
If you exercised before pregnancy – that’s wonderful! It will make it easier for you to exercise during pregnancy.
If you are not a regular exerciser – that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up. But please do whatever you can to develop the habit.
Safe exercises during pregnancy do wonders not only for your overall well-being – physical and emotional – but for your labor as well. One of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy is that it will help ease your labor – if you do not over do it. And who doesn’t want that?
There are pregnancy workouts or pregnancy Pilates on DVD that are nice if you need the motivation or you do not know where to start. DVDs are great but you do not need to spend money in order to enjoy prenatal exercises.
If you already have some exercise equipment, you should able to keep up doing your favorite exercises as long as you use caution and do not over do it. Elliptical exercise equipment is very popular right now and is said to be safe to use while pregnant. Another one would be the birth ball. However, know that you do not need any exercise equipment at all to stay fit.
Exercise And Pregnancy: The Best Pregnancy Exercises
Whatever routine or form of exercise you choose while pregnant, you should really incorparate the following exercises as well.
- Tailor Sitting
- Pelvic Rocks
- Beach Ball Hold
- Practicing Good Posture
Exercise and Pregnancy: Tailor Sitting
To do the tailor sit: sit on the floor with the soles of your feet together and lean your upper torso forward until you feel a very gentle pull in your inner thighs.
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 4 times.
Tailor sitting – sitting on the floor – is also a great while watching TV. You can use the back of a couch as a support if you do not slouch!
Exercise and Pregnancy: Pelvic Rocks
Kneeling on all fours, tighten your abdominal muscles, especially the lower muscles, while tightening and tucking in your bottom.
Pelvic rocks may be done frequently throughout the day to ease back discomfort and strengthen abdominal muscles.
Repeat 20 to 30 times.
Pelvic rocks also help prevent – or some say even move – a baby which is in the posterior position meaning a baby who is head down with his back against yours. A posterior position is associated with back labor – which is quite difficult.
Exercise and Pregnancy: Squatting
Stand with your feet and heels flat on the floor, about shoulder width apart.
Face a chair or other stable object for support.
Your feet should point outward, not forward.
Hold on to the support, and bend your knees out while lowering your bottom to no lower than your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor.
Slowly lengthen the time until this position can be help comfortably for a minute or longer.
This will not only help to loosen your pelvic floor but squatting opens up your pelvis by 30%!! Indeed there was a lot of wisdom with “those primitive woman” who squatted in labor.
Just as beneficial, and in fact the preferred method if you have not practiced squatting during pregnancy, is the supported squat.
A supported squat is simply squatting with either a person or object – couch, wall, etc. – supporting your weight.
Exercise and Pregnancy: Kegels
This exercise is very important. Sitting, standing, or lying down, contract and tighten the muscles of the pelvic floor – those used to stop your flow of urine.
Think of pulling the opening of your vagina all the way up toward your cervix.
Hold for a count of five and then slowly release.
Do 4 to 6 sets of 25, spread over the course of the day.
A tight vaginal barrel makes you more in control of the pushing process as you are able to relax your kegel muscles on demand.
A tight vaginal barrel also maintains a healthy pelvic floor – a weak pelvic floor is related to incontinence – and is also a great plus during sex!
Conclusion? Work those kegels!
Exercise and Pregnancy: Beach Ball Hold
Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
Holding your lower abdominal muscles in tightly, tuck your chin to your chest, cross your arms across your chest, and lean back slowly while keeping your feet flat on floor until your upper torso leans back at approximately a 45-degree angle.
Hold for a count of ten.
Return to your original position by using your hands on your knees as a support to your lower back.
Repeat 10 times and build slowly until you can do it 20 to 30 times.
You know some methods of prepared childbirth classes promote some breathing methods. However, the truth is no specific breathing training is necessary for childbirth.
In fact, learning to focus on special breathing patterns for labor – as with Lamaze – actually inhibits relaxation and increases discomfort with the contractions.
So it actually has the opposite effect it is meant to have.
However, there are several natural breathing patterns that a relaxed woman will experience in labor:
- Abdominal Breathing, as in sleep
- Chest Breathing, as in work
- Pushing Breaths
Stand against a door and try to touch it with the small of your back. Place your hands under your ribs on each side of the chest.
Now pretend you are lifting your rib cage up.
As you do this, you will automatically straighten your shoulder, tuck your hips under and raise your chin.
Good posture helps to keep the baby in the appropriate position…
…slouching can – and does – cause a posterior position, which causes back labor…
…which is not fun!!
When you do your exercises, it is also good to practice relaxation. Lie or sit in a comfortable position and let your body go completely limp. You can buy a good pregnancy pillow for more comfort.
Stay like this for about 20 minutes…if you can.
Another way to relax is loosening your jaw.
If your jaw is loose, your pelvic floor is loose! That’s the truth!
Just keep your mouth open slightly.
However, during labor, relaxing your jaw may be a little more difficult, so try talking…
…or singing like Alisha! (Yes, she was singing during her second birth in order to keep her jaw realxed and she did a fantastic job!)
…that really helps!
Learning how to completely relax your body during pregnancy will help you to relax in labor thus letting your body do its job and making labor as smooth as possible.
Exercise And Pregnancy: Post Pregnancy Exercises
Don’t think that just because your baby is born that the work is over!
There are exercises you can do to get your body back to the way it was pre-pregnancy – or close to it!
- Kegels – to restore birth canal muscles to their former tightness and resiliency. If there have been stitches, they will heal quicker and with less soreness.
- Lie on your stomach – with large pillows under the hips and a small one under your ankles. This aids your uterus to return to its normal place within your abdomen.
- Lift your head and shoulders just off the bed – or floor – and hold for a count of 5.
Repeat 10 times.
This helps restore a flatter stomach.
- Practice Good Posture – why not keep up the habit you picked up in pregnancy!