Being pregnant you have a lot on your mind. Most likely you’re thinking about meeting your new little one, what they will be like, and life with a new baby.
You probably also have a lot of pregnancy concerns like your back aching and scheduling your next prenatal appointment and how you can possibly manage making dinner tonight! With all of these big thoughts on your mind, it’s easy to forget to really plan your baby’s birth.
It’s never too early to think about how to prepare for childbirth and exercises during pregnancy for a normal labor.
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How Your Pregnancy Fitness Affects Your Childbirth
It is easy to be lazy while pregnant, even if you were quite active before! Carrying a baby is a lot of work for your body (not to mention your emotions)! However, being lazy and being attentive of your need for rest are two different things. By following your true intuitions you should be able to balance out your rest and activity in a way that leaves you feeling good.
Relaxing often during pregnancy is a must. But instead of plopping on the couch every chance you get, sometimes rest in a more dynamic fashion. Sit on the floor, or at least try to sit in a chair that doesn’t cause you to tuck your pelvis and hunch your back (which is what most soft chairs and couches do). Side lying is a good position too, but change positions and move often.
Just as you should take breaks when needed from activity, also remember to take breaks from your resting! Being aware of how you are holding your body, either at rest, work, or play, keeps you in touch with your physical self. This will help to prevent many ailments during pregnancy, and can result in an easier childbirth.
Movement During Pregnancy
While pregnancy is certainly a time to rest more, resting too much makes it harder and harder to move. Childbirth is hard enough – childbirth when your body is completely out of shape is not something you want for your labor!
Movement tends to help labor speed up and is almost always recommended to help childbirth progress. If your 9 month pregnant body is not able to walk or barely move, it’s not going to suddenly spring to power when you are having contractions every few minutes! Keep your muscles strong and able and you laboring body will thank you!
Beyond Pregnancy Exercises for Labor
Exercising is often the last thing your pregnant body wants to do, and, luckily, you don’t have to! Exercise, in the traditional sense, is actually not the best way to prepare for a fast and easy labor. Natural fitness is the best for your pregnant body, and will help create the best situation for labor. Here are some natural ways you can incorporate movement into your pregnancy and create your ideal childbirth.
Walking is the best physical exercise you can do while pregnant. It is natural and easy to challenge yourself (by going faster, longer steps, uphill, or pushing a stroller) or take it easy (walk at a child’s pace, make it leisurely, stop frequently). Walking outside gives you the huge benefit of fresh air and sunshine!
A deep squat is a position you should spend quite a bit of time in during your pregnancy. Squatting helps gets the pelvic into position for a good child birth. It is also very opening, so great if you’re waiting for a “late” baby!
Many women really like to squat during labor since it helps get the baby through the birth canal easier and faster. If your body is not used to the position it may be too difficult to do. Practicing it daily during pregnancy so it becomes very comfortable, even intuitive.
To do a low squat for pregnancy, keep your feet a bit more than hip distance apart. Bend your knees fully. If you can’t keep your heels on the ground, put a folded towel or blanket under them. Your knees should be far enough apart that your belly fits in between them. Keep your back straight and try not to tuck your tailbone under. Hold the position until you feel uncomfortable, increasing the duration over time until you’re spending several minutes at a time squatting.
Invest in a birthing ball when you are pregnant! I have fond memories of the days before my second child was born, bouncing on my yoga ball with my son, singing “come out baby!” Not only do birthing balls help the baby get into a good position and encourage movement downward, but they make for an excellent chair.
To use as a chair, sit on it with both sitting bones applying the main pressure. Keep your feet wide enough to balance easily. If it is quite hard for you to balance, let out a bit of air. Try to keep your back straight without straining. Adding little bounces is soothing for you baby, and will stretch and strengthen your main birthing muscles. It also can help you prepare for a deep squat (below).
Another position for your ball is to put it up against something stable lay your arms and head on it while in an all-fours position. Release your abdominal and back muscles and experiment with moving your seat towards your feet (a modified child’s pose if you’re familiar with yoga).
Roll back, forward, and to the sides, finding positions to stretch and release. This is the same thing that you may want to try while in active labor. Many mamas use their birthing balls throughout the birth process, it makes it so easy to change positions. Don’t forget to keep your birthing ball, your baby may like it more than rocking!
About the Author
Rebecca Carr believes we are all born to move! After over 15 years of teaching and researching gymnastics and natural movement and raising three “natural movers” of her own, she has a lot to say! Rebecca created InnateMoves.com in hopes to teach and inspire you to find freedom in your body to move the way nature intended!
P.S. There is a really cool pregnancy planner I just had to share with you. I totally wish this was available when I was pregnant.