Last updated: March 9, 2020
Kate Killoran M.D.
Obstetrics & Gynecology
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Labor is physically demanding. Training with our 5 exercises can help prepare your body.
Everyone knows there is a reason they call it labor. If it were easy it would be called something else. Yet many expecting mothers go into childbirth without any physical training. Just as you prepare your home for your new arrival, you can also prepare you body.
Before beginning any exercise routine, it is important to speak to your healthcare professional to make sure that it is safe for you and your pregnancy.
Exercise is safe in pregnancy for most women. Women who have been exercising prior to pregnancy can maintain vigorous-intensity activities if that’s what they were doing before. Women who were sedentary before pregnancy should begin more gradually.
Once you are cleared to get physical, you can start preparing your body using our tops five get ready for baby exercises.
Yoga and labor actually have more in common than many people realize. When in labor many women utilize different positions in order to encourage baby to move into position or to simply ease their discomfort. Along with learning these positions, yoga also focuses on relaxation and breathing techniques that can also be used to help ease the discomfort of contractions.
Not all forms of yoga are safe for pregnant women. Make sure that your instructor is aware of your pregnancy if you are not in a prenatal class.
Yoga offers many benefits for a healthy pregnancy including:
- Better sleep
- Less stress
- Decreased back pain
- Less nausea
- Reduced risk of preterm labor
Squats are not fun. Squats are not easy-but-squats can be a great way to prepare your body for the challenge of labor. One of the reasons that squats are so effective for preparing the body for birth is their ability to develop lower body strength.
Squatting during pregnancy can be tricky because your belly is likely to leave you unbalanced. In addition, the hormone relaxing causes your joints and ligaments to become loose and it can be easy to hurt yourself.
Perform Squats Safely By:
Performing movements slowly to avoid falling
Stop exercising if you feel
- Chest pain
- Muscle cramps
- Uterine Contractions
- Loss of vaginal fluid/bleeding
Many women may associate kegel exercises with recovery after birth, but in reality kegels should start the moment you get a positive pregnancy test.
Performing kegels during pregnancy will help to strengthen your pelvic floor. This is not only important during labor, but also to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, bowels and uterus. This strengthening is important because as your baby grows, more and more pressure will be put on these areas.
Learning to strengthen and isolate the kegel muscles will help with the final phase of labor-pushing. Kegels are also helpful in postpartum recovery to restore the strength of the pelvic floor and aid in the healing of the perineal tissues.
How to Perform a Kegel
Learn to isolate your kegel muscles by stopping the flow of urine when on the toilet. Once you have learned how to isolate the muscles, start holding the muscles for 30 seconds at a time, releasing and holding again for 30 seconds.
Repeat several times throughout the day to build up strength.
For some women sex may be the last thing they want to do during pregnancy and others may not be able to get enough. Both are normal, but if you do choose to indulge in a little action between the sheets during pregnancy, you may reap its many benefits.
Benefits of Sex During Pregnancy
- Burn calories
- Increased intimacy with partner
- Better sleep
- Improved Immunity
- Lower blood pressure
Sex is not always recommended during pregnancy. It is important to discuss with your healthcare provider if continuing to have sex is safe for your pregnancy. Once your healthcare provider has cleared you to resume sexual activity after birth orgasms can help to continue to strengthen your pelvic floor.
When most picture getting a massage during their last month of pregnancy, they are likely picturing a relaxing back massage to help with the strain of carrying around their soon-to-be born baby or perhaps a foot massage to help with fluid retention.
While those are great ways to ease the discomfort of the third trimester, they will not likely help you in labor. The massage that is best to help prepare your body is a perineum massage.
Instead of feeling relaxed, this massage is likely to tingle and burn. That is because it is designed to help prepare the area between your vagina and anus for birth and help to minimize tearing.
This massage lengthens and softens the perineum which is essential in a smooth vaginal delivery. Check with your healthcare provider before starting this massage after the 35th week of pregnancy.
How to do a Perineal Massage
Relax the perineum (the area between the vagina and anus) with a warm bath or a warm compress for 10 minutes.
- Sit or lean in a relaxed position
- Put a safe and water soluble lubricant on your thumbs (or your partner’s thumbs) and your perineum
- Put both thumbs into your vagina about 1-1.5 inches inside your vagina
- Press down firmly
You may notice a burning or stinging or tingling sensation. Breathe deeply and concentrate on relaxing the muscles. Hold the pressure for two minutes or until the area becomes numb. Start to slowly massage back and forth the sides of your vagina in a U shape.
Repeat the process once.
Have a Safe Pregnancy
Exercise during pregnancy can lead to a healthy deliver when done under the advisement of your doctor. Always consult your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise routine.
Pregnancy questions keeping you up all night? You can contact one of our doctors 24/7. Connect now and we can cure your worry from the comforts of home.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.
About Kate Killoran M.D.
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