Doctors say that delivering a baby is like running a marathon — it takes a lot of effort, preparation, and exercise if you want to have a relatively easy pregnancy and a normal delivery. However, it’s really important to talk to your doctor beforehand and to listen to your body’s needs.
For all moms-to-be, Bright Side put together some exercises that will help you tone your body to get it ready for labor and delivery, as well as to ease some of the most common pregnancy pains.
Firstly, we should mention that it’s probably not the best idea to hit the gym once you get pregnant if you’ve never been there before. If it’s not a high-risk pregnancy, then your exercising routine should remain the same or become a bit lighter. It’s a common misconception that exercising can lead to a miscarriage. Light cardio like walking or swimming will help build stamina which you will need during labor and it can also lower your risk of having a C-section or a newborn with a weight that’s abnormally high.
So here are some of the best exercises for every mom — from newbies to professionals.
1. Side leg lifts
This exercise will help you tone your thigh muscles:
- Lay on your side with your shoulders, hips, and knees lined up. If you don’t feel stable enough, bring the leg you are laying on forward;
- Support your head with your arm and bring the other one forward for more balance;
- Slowly lift the upper leg as high as you can without experiencing any discomfort;
- Switch sides and repeat.
2. Tailor sit
This exercise makes your pelvic, thigh, and hip muscles more flexible:
- Sit on the floor with your back straight and the soles of your feet together;
- Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hips and thighs. Your back should remain straight;
- Hold for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
The clamshell exercise is perfect for toning your core, hips, thighs, and pelvic floor muscles, and it also helps reduce back pain.
- Lie on your side with your legs and hips stacked and knees bent;
- Support your head with your lower arm;
- Keep your back straight and make sure your toes are touching;
- Raise your upper leg with the knee still bent and feet touching, spreading your knees as far apart as possible;
- Hold it for a few seconds, then put your leg back down;
- Switch sides and repeat.
Doing squats during pregnancy has several benefits for you. It helps tone your pelvic floor muscles, reduce lower back and pelvic pain, and it’s a great birthing position.
- Stand up straight and put your feet shoulder-width apart;
- If your stomach is big and you feel unsteady, hold on to something like a chair, a couch, or a wall;
- Keeping your back straight, start squatting down;
- Make sure your knees don’t go past your toes;
- Go as low as you can without experiencing any discomfort;
- Hold the squat position for a few seconds, then return to the starting position.
5. Hip Flexor Stretch
Stretching your hip flexor muscles will help you stay limber and make it easier for you to open your legs wide during labor.
- Put one foot in front of you and slowly get down as low as possible;
- Make sure that your front leg is bent at a 90-degree angle and that your knee doesn’t extend past your toes;
- Lean forward onto the front leg and hold the stretch for a little bit;
- Switch legs and repeat.
6. Forearm plank
The plank is a great core exercise as it doesn’t put pressure directly on the abs, making it safe for the baby.
- Get down on your hands and knees, lower yourself onto your elbows, and put your forearms on the floor;
- Straighten your legs so that your body forms a straight line;
- If it’s too difficult, slightly bend your knees or put them on the floor completely;
- Stay in this position for as long as you can without experiencing any discomfort.
7. Goddess pose
This exercise works with the pelvic floor muscles and helps open the hips:
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart;
- Make sure your feet are looking outward;
- Slowly bend your knees so that they’re over the ankle bones;
- Stay in this position and breathe steadily.
8. Belly breathing
Belly breathing is a great exercise to perfect your breathing technic.
- Sit down in the cross-legged position;
- Close your eyes and put your hands on your belly;
- Slowly take a deep breath;
- Make sure that your jaw, neck, and shoulders are relaxed;
- Relax your pelvic muscles;
- Slowly exhale and repeat.
Bonus: Keeping your posture correct
As your center of gravity shifts during pregnancy, it gets really hard to maintain good posture. The best way to fix this is to practice standing close to a wall, so that the back of your head, shoulders, glutes, calves, and heels touch the wall. Another great way is to strengthen your core muscles by doing plank regularly.
We hope these exercises will help you feel better during your pregnancy. If you have anything to add –feel free to do so in the comments!
Illustrated by Sergey Raskovalov for Bright Side