There are so many elements that go into preparing for a baby - the bassinet you choose, the diaper bag, the cute itty bitty clothes. But something that a lot of people don’t think about is how to prepare your body for labor! Giving birth is like running a marathon. It is physically and mentally taxing on your body, and the way that you prepare matters! Today I’m going to give you 3 exercises to prepare for labor (+ a few other helpful tips!)
If we are meeting for the first time - Hi! Welcome to Vibrant Mama Wellness! My name is Megan, and I am a pre and postnatal personal trainer. I am certified through the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization in pre+postnatal fitness through PROnatal fitness. I am a mom of 1, and became interested in pre + postnatal fitness as I was going through my own pregnancy journey!
(Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or condition. This blog post is based on my own research and experience - please consult a medical professional before starting or making any changes to your exercise program).
Now before I dive into the 3 specific exercises, let’s talk about how to best prepare your body for labor. I hear a lot of advice about “doing your kegels” and that’s not actually the best advice! Here’s why: your pelvic floor muscles are comprised of 14 different muscles that form a sling at the bottom of the pelvis. It supports the internal organs, holding them up in the abdominal cavity. As your pregnancy progresses, there is more weight in the abdominal cavity, and this puts stress on the pelvic floor muscles, thus weakening them. This is why people generally think to do kegels, HOWEVER - you need your pelvic floor muscles to be able to RELAX during labor so that the baby can travel through the vaginal canal. This is a complex topic (that I love talking about) - but for simplicity sake, save the kegels for after birth.
As a personal trainer, I highly recommend following a specific prenatal program during your pregnancy that has been developed by a pre+postnatal specialist (hi!). Having a comprehensive program will ensure that you are preparing your body in the best way possible! It will also help your body recover easier during the postpartum period.
But without further ado, here are 3 exercises I recommend to prepare for labor.
1. Hip circles on ball
Most women know to sit on a yoga ball during the 3rd trimester. But did you know why this is beneficial? For one, the unstable surface can help strengthen the core and back. But two - it helps the baby engage into the pelvis! It opens up space in the pelvis, and creates space for the baby’s head to drop lower.
To do hip circles, sit on the ball with your feet planted firmly on the ground, about hip distance apart. Move your hips slowly in a circular motion in one direction about 10 times. Then circle them the other direction. This should also help alleviate any lower back tension!
2. Deep squat
The deep squat is a fantastic exercise to prepare for labor. Not only does it increase mobility in the hips, but it also helps relax the pelvic floor muscles and it is a great laboring position! For this move, you can also use a chair for balance if needed. Stand with your feet hip distance apart, and squat all the way down so that your butt is hovering above the floor. Your heels should stay down on the floor. If you don’t feel steady, hold onto a study chair that won’t flip over!
3. Curb walking
This exercise is thrown around a lot and people think of it as a wives tale - but it is great! Curb walking (i.e. walking with one foot on an elevated surface), helps open up the pelvis and allow more space for the baby to descend. If you don’t have a sidewalk, you can use your stairs at home, putting one foot on the bottom stair and stepping up and down.
Now while these 3 exercises are great at the end of pregnancy, like I mentioned above, I HIGHLY recommend working with a prenatal specialist during your pregnancy. Labor is like a marathon, and it takes a lot of stamina and effort. Properly training to mimic the intensity of labor can help SO much!! If you are looking for more guidance, you can fill out this form to get more information about my prenatal 1:1 services.
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Disclaimer: This blog does not serve as medical advice. Please consult your medical provider before starting a new fitness routine. This blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.