Going into labour is one of the most intense experiences of your life.
It is best to be prepared for this experience and therefore do read up on the subject and listen to other mom’s stories to help you manage your expectations as well as consulting your doctor for advice.
1. Pregnancy Exercise: Kegels
Kegel exercises are beneficial for all women, especially during pregnancy. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles—the muscles that support your uterus, bowel, and bladder — which are called into play during labour. They also help in getting your vaginal muscles back in shape after delivery.i You can do Kegel exercises anywhere and anytime.
To do a Kegel, tighten your pelvic floor muscles (pretend you have to urinate and then cut it short—this movement tightens the pelvic floor muscles) and hold for 10 seconds before releasing. Make sure that your stomach muscles are relaxed and that you’re breathing normally. Do 10 to 15 repetitions, three times a day.
2. Pregnancy Exercise: Squats
Squatting during labour can widen your pelvic opening, which in turn gives your growing baby a smoother exit route. Squats can also help ease lower back pain while you’re still pregnant.
To do the squat safely and properly, stand up straight with your back against a wall, legs shoulder-width apart; slowly bend your knees and slide down the wall, going as low as you comfortably can. Hold for five seconds, then slide back up. Repeat, working up to 10 repetitions.
Tip: To make sliding a little easier, try placing a fitness ball between your back and the wall.
3. Pregnancy Exercise: Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic tilts strengthen your abdominal muscles and minimize back pain once you’re in labour. You can do pelvic tilts on the floor or standing up.
For the floor version, get on your hands and knees, keep your head level with your back. Pull in your stomach while pushing up with your back, like you’re making a camel hump. To do pelvic tilts while standing, place your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart, and slightly bend your knees. Then, with your hands on your hips, push your pelvis forward and tuck in your behind. Use whichever position is most comfortable for you. Hold it for a few seconds and then relax, without letting your stomach muscles sag. Repeat three to five times and build to 10 repetitions.
4. Pregnancy Exercise: Prenatal Yoga
Not only does yoga strengthen the core muscles that you will need to use during labour, it is a relaxing and meditative exercise that also helps with taking deep breaths during labour. Researchers have found that many yoga poses in pre-natal pregnancy are safe.ii Try prenatal yoga classes at a studio near you or hire a recommended instructor who is adept at prenatal yoga to instruct you. Consult your doctor for advice as well.
These exercises are really easy to incorporate into your daily life. So get going and start exercising today.
iCurtis, G. B., & Schuler, J. (2016). Your Pregnancy Week by Week (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Da Capo Press.
iiYoga in pregnancy: Many poses are safer than once thought. Retrieved 3 June 2017 from, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/yoga-in-pregnancy-many-poses-are-safe...