Nothing is more blissful for a woman than to find out that a baby is growing inside her who is going to fill her life with love, warmth, and lots of laughter. But with pregnancy comes many changes in your body. To cope well with those changes, you must keep yourself active through exercises for an easy labor and delivery. You may also need to include some modifications so that you don’t compromise you or your baby’s health.
One of the best ways to keep your body moving and active is by doing safe pregnancy workouts. It does not matter if you were an exercise enthusiast or a couch potato before pregnancy you can start doing different exercises.
You can practice many of the same exercises that you used to do before pregnancy with modifications to adjust them to your growing body’s requirements.
So wear your favorite workout outfit and lace up your sneakers again to make your pregnancy experience even more pleasant with these top 5 exercises.
Top 5 Exercises for an Easy Labor and Delivery
When you become pregnant your body produces a hormone called relaxin to prepare you for childbirth. Relaxin does just that, it relaxes the muscles and joints of the body which can make it more susceptible to injuries. You may also notice your center of gravity is not the same, making you feel more clumsy in movement. Before initiating any exercise make sure you stretch your body and muscles properly to save yourself from any injury during exercise.
Walking and Running
Walking is the easiest and safest exercise for any pregnant woman. All you need is a good pair of sneakers and a water bottle with you to start walking anywhere you like. You can walk in nature to boost its effects more or go with family or friends to make sure you don’t get bored.
If you used to walk before pregnancy then keep your routine the same after consulting your doctor. But if you were not fond of walking, then start with 15 minutes of walking three days per week. You can increase the time duration and number of days with every passing week. Doctors recommend that a pregnant woman should devote at least 150 minutes per week to a moderate exercise.
If you are a runner, you want to ensure you modify your speed and duration, especially as you enter your second trimester of pregnancy. I recommend mothers walk briskly instead of run as it’s less impact on your baby and joints.
After walking, squatting is another exercise that you can do throughout your pregnancy and is one of the best to have an easier labor and delivery. The best part is you don’t need any machine to start doing squats.
Squats help a lot during and after pregnancy as they stretch lower muscles of the body and help in descending a baby during delivery. They keep your muscles in shape and prevent the back pain that many moms complain about. Squats can be done in different ways. And you can choose any type that suits your body the best.
The most common way of doing a squat is with the help of a couch. In it, stand with legs apart (not too much) and back towards your couch. Squat down but stop as your thighs touch the couch surface come back to your standing positing in 3 seconds and squat again by taking 5 seconds to go down in sitting position again.
Repeat it for 20 to 30 times. You do not have to overdo it. If you are breathing hard and your body is not supporting this exercise then stop and start the next day again with only a few squats without overburdening yourself in any way.
3. Side-lying Inner and Outer Thigh
Leg exercises are a great way to stretch your body in the right angles to make your muscles sturdy, flexible, and ready to deliver a child. You should choose a leg exercise that suits you and does not trouble your body in any way. One of these exercises is the side-lying inner and outer thigh.
Here is how you can do it properly:
Lie on your left side on your workout mat. Keep your left leg bent at a 45-degree angle. Your right leg should be straight. Place your left arm under your head to provide support and comfort. Similarly, place your right arm on the floor in front of you for the sake of support and stability. Lift your right leg to the height of your hip. Repeat it several times.
Now bend your right knee and support it on a pillow. Bring your bent left leg into a straight position and lift it as high as you can. Repeat it just like you did for your right leg. Change your side and repeat the whole procedure. This exercise will help you build your inner thighs and core strength.
4. Modified Pilates
In Pilates, different movements and positions are tried to bring strength, balance, and coordination in your body. During this exercise, the main focus is on the back muscles and pelvic floor muscles which shows that this exercise will help you a lot during and after delivery.
Modified Pilates is a safe and effective exercise that helps pregnant women in increasing their body flexibility, reducing backaches, and stretching body muscles. If you were already practicing Pilates before pregnancy then keep doing that with a few modifications.
You can also join classes conducted by a trained instructor who is aware of your pregnancy status. Make sure that you do pilates at a moderate level so that your heartbeat or body temperature does not increase.
5. Prenatal Yoga
Prenatal yoga is a great workout to prepare your body to withstand delivery and pregnancy. It will help you relax, develop a habit of deep breathing, the ability to focus more, and make your muscles more flexible. If you were doing yoga before pregnancy then continue it with a little modification so that you can prevent harm to your baby or yourself.
If you take yoga classes then inform your yoga trainer about your pregnancy. They will instruct you to change your yoga poses accordingly. There are different poses of yoga you can choose from. Make sure you avoid poses that are not suitable for you like deep backbends and hand or headstands.
How Often Should I Do Exercise During Pregnancy?
Doctors advise pregnant women to exercise at least 30 minutes for five days a week. You can bring a little change in this time duration according to your body’s condition. It is very essential to keep your body moving and active during the time period of these 9 months.
You can start with a simple exercise like walking. If you are not used to it then start with 10 to 15 minutes of a walk for a few days a week. Then increase this time duration and change forms of exercise as well. Make sure you listen to your body and do not overburden yourself.
How Will Exercise Help Me in Pregnancy?
Exercise has multiple benefits not only on regular days but during pregnancy as well, including to help you have an easier labor and delivery. To understand its importance better let’s go through some of its benefits.
- Keeping your body fit and active during exercise will keep many pregnancy complications away from you. You will feel your body getting strong and better.
- You may not get backaches that many women complain about during and after pregnancy. This is likely because you have stretched your bones and muscles to keep them energetic and fit. You will also have very few issues of constipation and bloating.
- Exercise builds more stamina and power to endure pain during delivery. It also helps you lower your stress and anxiety levels. Studies show that very few women who practice exercise during pregnancy acquire gestational diabetes as compared to those who do not exercise during pregnancy.
- Yoga will help you boost your mood and help you stay positive. You will see a positive change in your attitude. You will also enjoy better and peaceful sleep at night.
- Exercising during pregnancy will not only help you during these 9 months but it will also help your body recover its original shape speedily after pregnancy.
Exercises to Avoid During Pregnancy
As pregnancy is a sensitive period for you and your baby, doing moderate level exercise is highly essential and exercises will help you have an easier labor and delivery. If you put a lot of pressure on your body you can harm your baby or yourself. So as a rule of thumb avoid exercises that are jarring, involve jumping, or very tiring.
Some of the exercises that you must avoid during these 9 months are:
- Holding your breath for a longer period of time.
- Exercises that involve bouncing, jumping, skipping, and other similar activities.
- Deep bending on knees.
- Exercises that involve sudden movements.
- Exercises that increase your heartbeat rate and body temperature at a higher level.
- Exercise done in hot and humid environmental conditions.
- Involving yourself in sports activities like football, volleyball, etc.
Useful Exercise Tips for Mama-to-Be
Now that you know how exercise will make your pregnancy time better and exercises for an easy labor and delivery, it is time to hit the gym and start working on your body. Before that, you must keep in mind these amazing tips that will help you save yourself from any mishap.
- If you have never done exercise prior to pregnancy, then this not the right time for you to test whether you can exercise. For a beginner, it is better to start with easy exercises such as walking. Once you develop enough stamina then move on to other forms of exercise.
- If you are an exercise enthusiast then remember that days of pregnancy are not like your pre-pregnancy days. You have to be extra cautious as your body is going through different changes. If you were doing hard exercises before, then move towards moderate level exercises. Never overburden your body.
- Every day before starting exercise, warm up your body and stretch it to make it ready for different poses and exercises. Avoiding this step can cause injury.
- Do not let your body temperature rise more than the normal level. If you are in a hot environment and there is humidity around you then make sure that you work out in an air-conditioned room and have a bottle of water nearby.
- Make sure that you are properly dressed for the exercise. Wear comfortable sneakers, sports bra, or loose breathable clothes so that you do not feel suffocated during exercise.
- Keep water and snacks near you if you are exercising for a longer time duration. Exercise can drop your sugar level so take short breaks in between and drink a few sips of cool water and eat healthy food to bring your blood sugar to a normal level.
- Keep yourself active and motivated during these 9 months. It will not only improve your health but your baby’s health as well. Staying sluggish and lying down on the bed all day will not make your body ready for the muscle contractions during delivery. To make your experience of pregnancy and delivery good, it is wise to include movement into your routine. If you get bored with one then start practicing another exercise after speaking to your doctor or midwife.
Exercise for an easy labor and delivery has multiple benefits that you can enjoy to make your pregnancy experience even more delightful. Let us know in the comment section which exercises you prefer to do.