A lot of us are guilty of not moving and exercising as much as we should prior to getting pregnant.
Maybe life just happened and you never got around to it (we get it, girl.)
Maybe you got pregnant unexpectedly, or quicker than you thought you would.
And now your body is busy creating a miracle, due to arrive in nine months or less.
"If only I had more time," you might be thinking!
When can I start preparing for labor?
Good news is, whether you are a dedicated Pilates junkie, or you can't even touch your toes, there are things you can do TODAY to start preparing your body for the pregnancy equivalent of "race day" for runners.
Is it possible to make labor easier?
Yes, you read that correctly. You can spend the next nine months or so training and preparing your body for LABOR.
Not to scare you, but labor is easily the toughest and most physically demanding thing you'll probably ever do.
So why not prepare and try to make labor easier, ahead of time.
Does being Fit make labor easier?
Now OF COURSE every birth story and every woman + baby is different, but strengthening the correct muscles can help lower the risk of tearing and other complications, and can help you recover more quickly after labor.
Exercising also helps DURING pregnancy by improving circulation, which helps prevent issues such as constipation, hemorrhoids, cramps, and ankle swelling.
What exercises can I do to make Labor easier?
To help you be in tip-top shape, here are our top 5 exercises to get your body delivery-ready and make labor easier (we're using "easier" as a relative term here.)
Integrate these moves into your weekly exercise routine! (Which should be at least 150 minutes/week, according to the ACOG.) Add them to the end of your run or walk, mix them in with your weight lifting, or do a few rounds of them as your entire workout.
Whatever you do, make sure you have the green light from your OB, and ease into the moves if it's been a while since you've exercised.
Squats, squats, squats! If you've looked into any type of prenatal workout before, you probably already knew squats were going to be on this list.
That's because they're an AMAZING body weight exercise that you can do anywhere, with no equipment. They also strengthen the pelvic floor, and keep your pelvic floor muscles in the correct alignment to be taut and strong for birth.
Check out this video from Fit Mums Channel where they show you how to correctly do squats during pregnancy.
2. Cat/Cow Stretch
Cat stretches work like pelvic tilts, but also have additional benefits for your core muscles and give your upper body a good stretch! The upper body often gets tight and achy if you're sitting a lot for work, so this stretch will feel really nice.
Alternating the cat stretch with the cow stretch takes your spine through it's entire range of motion, which is great for your back that might get stiff and sore during pregnancy.
3. Tailor Sitting
Tailor sits and presses strengthen your inner thighs which, when done over a period of time in advance of the big day, will increase your flexibility, increase blood flow to the pelvic area and legs, and ultimately help you have an easier labor.
If you can stretch and bend your legs with greater ease and comfortably, you'll be able to get into a more optimal birthing position.
How to do a Tailor Sit
- Sit on the floor with your back straight, kind of like when you had to sit "like a butterfly" as a child.
- Put the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop to the side.
- Gently and slowly press the knees down using your elbows.
- Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat the stretch five or 10 times.
If you need a wall to support your back at first, that's fine. Your body will strengthen over time.
4. Wall Sits
This move tones your legs and butt while strengthening the pelvic floor. It's also great support for the back, which might be a little sore or achy from your expanding middle!
There are also a lot of variations you can do with this move to get even more benefits.
Read this article for the proper instructions on wall sits and for some great variations.
Admittedly a bit different than the other four exercises, yoga (or Pilates, or even just really good stretching) helps lengthen some of the muscles you will use to birth your baby. A strong, but loose and open body is in the optimal condition for labor.
Prenatal yoga classes also help teach you correct breathing and pain management techniques that will give you a greater chance of enduring a natural labor, if you so desire.
Find a prenatal yoga class in your area, or look online at the hundreds of videos available.
We hope these exercises help you get a strong, healthy body that is in prime baby-birthing condition! Its never too late to start, but be sure to first check with your doctor. If you liked these 5 exercises to make labor easier, be sure to share and let us know how they worked for you.
Interested in preparing more for labor?