Labor and delivery is often referred to as a marathon and you wouldn’t run a marathon without training for it-- the same goes for labor and delivery!
This doesn’t mean you need to do hours a day of exercising and stretching, but it is helpful to spend a few minutes each day preparing your body for the work it’s about to do!
As always, please discuss any new activities with your care provider or consider seeking out a women’s health physical therapist! A women’s health physical therapist can help you:
- Learn how to push during delivery
- Lengthen pelvic muscles and soft tissue
- Practice different laboring positions
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Prevent or treat urinary incontinence
- Relieve pregnancy related aches and pains
It’s important to remember that pain isn’t normal and should always be investigated, even if you’re pregnant! Reaching out to webster certified chiropractors, regularly scheduled prenatal massages, and a women’s health physical therapist (also referred to as a pelvic floor physical therapist) can help keep you comfortable during all of your trimesters.
In the meantime, here are some helpful stretches to help prep your body and relieve you of those common pregnancy aches!
Child’s pose: This yoga pose helps lengthen pelvic floor muscles and ease discomfort. To do this, kneel down and sit on your heels. Lean forward and slowly walk your arms out in front of you. Practice taking deep breaths. As your belly grows, you may need to spread your knees farther apart to create space!
Deep Squat: Deep squats help relax and lengthen the pelvic floor muscles and stretch the perineum. To get into a deep squat, slowly squat down as far as you can go with your hands pressed together in front of you.
Cat/Cow pose: This yoga pose helps ease discomfort and decrease lower back pain. This is performed on hands and knees. As you exhale, round your back and tuck your chin toward your chest; then inhale and arch your back downward as you look up to the sky.
Bridge: Bridge provides a gentle stretch for your hip flexors. It can also help strengthen your lower back, abdominals, and glutes. It will help relieve hip and lower back aches.
For this stretch, lie down on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, curl your pelvis until you feel your low back flat on the ground then gently lift your bottom off the floor keeping your spine in a neutral position.
As you exhale, gently lower back down, thinking of one vertebrae at a time.
Forward lunge: This stretch is helpful for those with tight hip flexors, the muscles that run along the front of your hip. These muscles can often get tight during pregnancy due to changes in the position of the pelvis. To safely lunge, begin by kneeling on the floor with your knees on a yoga mat or pillow for comfort.
Step one foot forward so that both your front knee and hip are at 90 degree angles. Breathe out, slowly lean forward and place more weight into your front leg. Make sure both hips remain facing forward so that you feel the stretch down the front of your hip and thigh.
Hold for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side. *can hold onto a chair or the wall for balance
Stretching is so beneficial during pregnancy as it helps relieve pain in your joints, reduce tension in muscles, reliever lower back pain from the change in position for your pelvis, increase overall flexibility, aids in relaxation, and prepares you for childbirth!
Please note that the hormones you release during pregnancy increase your overall flexibility so you can be prone to more injuries. It’s important to take it easy and slow through the stretches to avoid overstretching!
Author Bio: Ashley Olson is a certified pediatric sleep consultant, owner of Heaven Sent Sleep, and passionate about helping new parents, experienced parents, desperate and sleep-deprived parents form healthy sleep habits for their children.
She has over 3 years of experience in working with families and has completed over 150 hours of coursework plus continuing education related to infant and toddler sleep. The focus of her work is on fostering a routine that grows your bond with your child while improving their sleep habits. She specializes in custom sleep plans and one on one support in changing sleep practices!