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Exercises and stretches to help with labor

Pregnancy exercise has numerous advantages and might even help your body prepare for labour. We’ll guide you through a few of these exercises, explain why they’re good for pregnancy and labour, and show you how to practise them. All of these workouts may be done at home with very little equipment.

Working out when pregnant can help with backaches, constipation, and edoema, as well as sleep, energy, and mood, and general health. Exercising might also help you prepare for labour and delivery.

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According to one study, women who exercised regularly throughout pregnancy had a lower risk of c-section birth, experienced less pain and discomfort during labour, and recovered faster after giving birth.

While many sorts of exercise, such as walking, swimming, weight training, and aerobics, are good during pregnancy, certain movements and stretches are especially beneficial during labour and delivery. Here’s how these basic exercises can help you, as well as how to correctly perform them

Gravity exercises

Walking

Walking is a terrific technique to build stamina and a great aerobic exercise that is also gentle on the joints. Walking at the end of your pregnancy can assist your baby in descending due to gravity and the back-and-forth action of your hips.

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Birth ball

Birth balls can be used to sit, rock, stretch, or provide support. Birth ball activities are among of the greatest exercises for assisting with labour – in fact, women who engaged in birth ball exercises, particularly in a group environment, were shown to have shorter labour times. Here are a few ideas about how to use a birth ball:

  • Rock your pelvis forward and back, side to side, and in circles while sitting on the birth ball. This action can help to strengthen your abdomen while also alleviating pelvic and back pain.
  • Sit on a birth ball and bounce up and down. The movement may aid your baby’s descent as labour progresses.
  • While working, replace your desk chair with a birth ball, or sit on it while watching TV.

Hip-opening exercises

Squat

Squatting is a tried-and-true method of getting ready for and giving birth. The exercise strengthens your thighs while also assisting in the opening of your pelvis.

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  • Stand with your toes pointed outward and your feet somewhat wider than hip-width apart. Hold the back of a chair or another object for support if you need more balance.
  • Relax your shoulders while contracting your abdominal muscles and lifting your chest. Then, as if you were sitting in a chair, lower your tailbone to the floor. Find your balance by putting most of your weight on your heels. To avoid hunching and straining your back, keep your gaze forward. Hold your breath for a moment.
  • To get to a standing position, take a deep breath and then exhale while pushing into your legs.

Butterfly stretch

Another technique that helps open your pelvis while also stretching your inner thighs and lower back is the butterfly stretch. Stretch lightly and avoid overstretching because your joints are looser during pregnancy.

  • Sit with your bottom on the floor and your legs bent outwards in front of you, the bottoms of your feet touching. The stretch will be more severe the closer your feet are to your body.
  • Lean forward enough to feel the stretch in your inner thighs and back while keeping your back straight, then hold for a few seconds.
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Back-stretching exercises

Pelvic tilt

On all fours, on your knees, with your hands on the floor, perform the pelvic tilt (also known as the angry cat). It can help with back pain during pregnancy and delivery by strengthening the abdominal muscles. How to do it:

  • Kneel with your arms shoulder-width apart and your knees hip-width apart on your hands and knees. Maintain a straight line with your arms, but don’t lock your elbows.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles, tuck your buttocks down, and round your back as you breathe in. Wrap your spine around your stomach.
  • As you exhale, relax your back into a neutral position.
  • Count to five as you slowly arch your back and tuck your pelvis beneath, then count to five as you slowly return to the neutral position, following the rhythm of your breathing. Rep the process three to five times more.
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Back stretch

This exercise extends the muscles at the back of your legs, as well as the spine and shoulders. When you’re feeling tense in your back, try this stretch. It can also aid in the relief of muscle tension during labour.

  • Bend forward from the hips, facing a wall, until your legs and upper body make a 90-degree angle. Your legs should be straight or slightly bent, and your back should be flat.
  • Place your hands at shoulder level against the wall. Allow your head to relax and your arms to remain level while you face down and gaze at the floor.
  • Lean backward from your hips, pressing your hands into the wall, until you feel a stretch in your back and back of your legs. Relax and return your hips to the previous posture after five to ten seconds. Rep two or three times more.
  • Standing in front of a birth ball and holding on to the birth ball instead of the wall is a version of this stretch. Exhale and wrap your spine over your tummy as you stretch.

Child’s pose

Child’s pose is a moderate lower back stretch that can also be used as a light hip opening to help prepare for delivery.

Sit on your knees and open your knees wide, leaning forward with your tummy between your legs. Reach your arms forward on the ground and place your brow on the ground.

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Pelvic floor exercises

Kegels

The pelvic floor muscles that support your pelvic organs — the vagina, urethra, cervix, uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum – are worked during Kegel exercises. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can help prevent or treat urine stress incontinence by providing greater support for these organs.

There’s even some evidence that having adequate control of your pelvic floor muscles can assist you labour more quickly during the pushing stage. The theory is that if you can relax those muscles willingly, it will make it simpler for your kid to come out. Pelvic floor exercises may also help to shorten labour time.

Kegels can be done anywhere – at your computer, while watching TV, or even while waiting in line at the store. Specific exercises can be recommended by your doctor or midwife, but here are the basics:

  • First, “discover” your pelvic floor muscles: When you go to the bathroom, can you tighten the muscles around your vagina and stop the flow of urine? If that’s the case, you’ve just performed a Kegel exercise and found your pelvic floor muscles. To get comfortable engaging that muscle group, practise multiple times while urinating.
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  • Try practising lengthy, slow contractions once you’ve mastered isolating and controlling your pelvic floor muscles: increase contraction power for five seconds, hold for another five, then gently relax for five. Consider the pelvic floor as an elevator that goes up a floor for each count of five and down for each count of five as you relax. Twice a day, work up to 10 or 15 long, steady contractions.
  • You can also practise “rapid flicks,” which builds a particular type of pelvic floor muscle fibre. Squeeze the muscles fast for two to three second pulses, then repeat 10 to 20 times. Twice a day, work up to 40 to 60 fast flick contractions.
  • When you complete these exercises, your tummy, buttocks, hips, and thighs should not move, so if you’re having difficulties isolating the proper muscles, seek advice from your healthcare professional.

Perineal massage

The area between your vagina and anus is known as your perineum. Perineal massage entails gently rubbing the tissue surrounding the back of your vaginal opening to allow it to stretch more easily after your baby is born. This is something you can do at home in the later weeks of your pregnancy to reduce perineal damage or tears during labour and delivery. Learn how to give yourself a perineal massage.

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Breathing exercises

Deep, slow breathing

Breathing deeply while relaxing and concentrating on your breath helps you prepare to breathe in this manner throughout birth. You can employ deep and concentrated breathing as a relaxing technique at any moment. It’s also beneficial to practise at times of pain or stress, or whenever your body tenses up in everyday situations.

  • Concentrate on your breathing. If it helps, close your eyes.
  • Slowly inhale deeply through your nose, then exhale slowly through your lips in a sigh.
  • As you exhale, let go of every tension in your body. To thoroughly relax your body, try going limp.
  • Focus on relaxing a different region of your body each time you exhale.

FAQ

  1. Can stretching help with labor?

    Exercise, specifically extending the pelvic region, has been shown in a recent study in England to reduce the length of time you are in labour. In fact, women who did not exercise while pregnant had a longer labour and more difficult, aggressive pushing than women who exercised from week 20 onwards.

  2. What stretches help with labor?

    As you inhale, sit tall and push your chest forward and up, creating a natural curvature in your lower back (similar to Cow Pose). Drop your chin, lean back, and round your back as you exhale (like Cat Pose). Rep this move five to ten times, or until it feels comfortable.

  3. What is the quickest way to go into labor?

    Natural methods for inducing labour
    – Get your feet moving. Movement may assist in the initiation of labour.
    – Have some sex. Sex is frequently suggested as a way to start labour.
    – Relax as much as possible.
    – Consume something hot and spicy.
    – Make an appointment for acupuncture.
    – Ask your doctor to strip your membranes.

  4. How should I lay in bed to induce labor?

    It’s quite acceptable to lie down during labour. Lie down on one side, straightening your lower leg and bending your upper knee as far as possible. Place it on a pillow to support it. Another way to expand your pelvis and help your baby to rotate and descend is in this posture.

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