You’ve got the baby’s room ready. You’ve picked out probable names. You’ve even attended the childbirth prep classes. Along with all these preparations, you also need to ensure that your body is ready for the marathon effort of childbirth.
Pregnancy and labor can be hard on your body, so it’s important to establish a moderate exercise routine early on. These pregnancy exercises can help you gain energy, reduce discomfort, and ensure better sleep. What’s more, it also helps you get back in shape more easily after childbirth.
However, as your due date draws closer, you want to make sure your body is ready for the physical demands of labor. You may want to focus on pregnancy exercises that help you target muscles that are specifically needed for labor. These moves strengthen and improve flexibility in your legs, lower back and especially the pelvis. It would be helpful to begin these pre-labor pregnancy exercises as soon as possible to get ready for your big day.
Squats are probably one of the best exercises you can do to prepare for labor. Squats allow your pelvic floor muscles to soften and lengthen, and also increase strength and flexibility in your legs. They also help nudge the baby into a downwards position, thereby helping to induce labor naturally.
To practice squats, stand with your feet slightly further than hip-width apart, knees turning out. Slowly bend knees and lower hips into a squat. Hold your hands in front of you or use a chair to steady yourself. Keep increasing the duration of the squat each week.
Here’s another exercise that helps your pelvic muscles get ready for labor, and also helps to induce labor naturally. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Flatten your back against the floor and lift your pelvis upwards simultaneously. Hold for a few seconds and slowly release. Repeat this twice a day for up to 10 minutes.
As your enter the final weeks of your pregnancy, your growing uterus puts pressure on your lower back, causing pain. This exercise helps relieve back pain while also improving your abdominal tone.
Begin by getting on all fours, arms under shoulders, knees under hips. As you exhale, tuck your chin into your chest and round your spine. Hold for a few seconds. Then, inhale and raise your head while you arch your spine downwards. Repeat a few times.
As you move into different positions during labour, your legs and thighs will be taking a lot of your weight. So you need to strengthen and stretch the muscles of the back, thighs and pelvis. The butterfly stretch relaxes your pelvis and inner thigh and eases blood flow to your lower body.
Sit on the floor with your back against a wall and the bottoms of your feet joined together. Use your elbows to press your thighs to the floor. You will feel the stretch in your inner thigh. Stay in this position for a few moments and repeat the stretch a few times.
Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises, target the muscles that play an important role in childbirth. They are effective in inducing labor and should be done regularly when you reach the 38 weeks mark.
To practice Kegels, contract the muscles around the vagina (as if stopping the flow of urine). Hold for 10 seconds, then slowly release. Work up to 25 reps a day.
You can never predict exactly what your childbirth experience will be like. But by doing these pregnancy exercises, you can ensure that your body is up to the momentous task of welcoming your baby into the world. Please discuss with your doctor before starting any of these exercises.
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