Exercises to Prepare for Labor and Delivery
Have you ever thought about comparing labor and bearing children to an athletic event?
Do you think it is possible to physically prepare for labor?
Are there specific exercises to help prepare you for labor?
Striving daily to live an active and fit lifestyle, I would consider myself an athlete. Do I get paid to entertain others at a huge sports complex, No. However, I strive to respect the body I have been given and treat it like it is a gift. I challenge it, I do things out of my comfort zone to train for specific results. I strive to maintain a healthy diet to fuel my body. I am an athlete.
In my mind the labor and delivery process is no different. As part of my preparation for labor and delivery, I took part in the Bradley Method: Pregnancy, Labor and Delivery preparation method. Like most everything else in my life, I try not leave most things to chance. I like to be prepared so that I am aware and ready. This preparation method gives suggested exercises to help prepare for labor.
Since I have been through the process of giving birth before, I would 100% believe that the act of laboring and birthing is an athletic event. It is a culmination of 9 months of preparation. There are 2 ways you can look at this process. You can use the 9 months to “take the season off” and relax and then hope that your body is prepared for labor and delivery or you can train and prepare.
As a general rule of thumb, it is important to continue to participate in daily exercise while pregnant. This may look different for everyone. You will need the stamina for the labor and delivery process. Many women continue to do their normal routine (running, exercises classes, cycling, strength training). There may be a need for modification of moves and intensity depending on effects on the body.
The following are some of the recommended exercises to help prepare for labor.
- Tailor sitting natural position that encourages the uterus to move forward increasing the circulation and stretching the inner thighs
- Squatting- gets the body in natural alignment to put pressure on the uterus, to prevent arching of the pack, to shorten the birth canal and to increase the outlet of the pelvis by more than 10%. Doing squats as part of the preparation will strengthen legs and perineum. Being in this positions during labor can shorten the 2nd stage of labor.
- Pelvic Rocking- This particular exercise produces more benefit than any other as preparation for labor. This exercise tones and conditions the muscles in the lower back and abdominal muscles, it relieves pressure, it increased circulation, relieves general tension, and often improves digestion. When done properly, this exercise helps the baby come forward, relieving pressure.
- Butterfly- this exercise tones and conditions the abductor muscles and enables you to pull your legs back more comfortably.
- Kegel- helps maintain proper tone in the pelvic floor or pubococcygeus muscle. Poor tone can cause incontinence, discomfort, lack of sensation during intercourse, unusual pain during labor.
- Side relaxation and sleep positions
- Other recommended exercises continue with daily routine of jogging, exercise classes, cycling, strength training, swimming, walking
I was able to maintain a high level of activity with my first child therefore most of my activities included the above exercises. I was participating in classes at the gym which allowed for a variety of exercises to prepare me for labor and delivery. You should let your provider know what you plan to do so they are aware. You should listen to your body and modify accordingly.
With my current pregnancy, due to complications, I have not been able to be as active and I can 100% tell the difference. I am more tired, I feel more aches and pains, I am more nauseous, have more heartburn and I have less stamina.
So being able to compare the two pregnancy experiences, I would highly recommend not taking the season off. I would do everything you can to stay active and physically fit so that your pregnancy and labor and deliver process are easier and more enjoyable.
There are many other resources out there supporting my theory to exercise during pregnancy.
The Fit NP
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