The Brightside: Preparing your body (and mind) for birth.
FIVE PREGNANCY EXERCISES WITH
HER CONNECTION PHYSIO FOUNDER
FIVE DAILY EXERCISES TO DO DURING PREGNANCY TO PREPARE YOUR BODY (AND MIND) FOR BIRTH.
THINK MOBILITY, LENGTH AND SPACE.
It is undeniable that no matter how we birth, it has a huge physical and emotional load on our bodies. It makes sense to prepare our bodies for such an event. These exercises are by no means the only exercises to do to prepare for birth (strength is also key), but they are a nice way to get your mind thinking about what your body needs to do.
Side lie Rotations/ ”Bow and Arrow”:
You need mobility through your trunk. The baby is going to take up a lot of space! Your ribs need to expand, and your diaphragm needs room to contract and relax – and who doesn’t want to be able to breathe well – especially in labour! A mobile trunk, will also help prevent and/or manage back and pelvic pain.
Lie on your side with knees and feet together and arms outstretched in front of you. Raise your top arm up and over until it is stretched out on the opposite side. Remember to keep your knees together, which will keep your pelvis still and allow for true rotation of the trunk. Stay here and breathe into your upper ribs for three big breaths. Repeat ten times on both sides. (or more if you can!)
Glute Stretch or Pigeon ‘type’ Pose:
Think space in the pelvis. Sure we want strength around your pelvis to help support your body during pregnancy, but we also need your pelvis to be able to move. During birth, your baby needs to descend down. The pelvis expands and the sacrum needs to get out of the way. Our deep glutes attach, and if they are stiff and short, there is resistance. We want as little resistance as possible!
Stretch. Your. Glutes.
Start on your hands and knees and bring one knee toward the same side hand and the foot toward the opposite hand. Stretch the other leg behind you. Melt your hips back, and feel a deep hip and glute stretch. Breathe and hold for at least one minute. Longer if able.
The ‘Cow’ bit of cat/cow:
Think length through your abdominal wall. The baby is going to grow. The uterus needs space. A tight grippy belly doesn’t stand a chance against a growth spurt in the third trimester! Better off having long muscles so the piece of fascia down the centre of the abdominal wall doesn’t have to take all the load and result in a big abdominal separation.
Let. Your. Belly. Go.
Start on hands and knees, drop your belly (and butt in the air) and direct your breast bone out in front of you. Feel the stretch through your abdominal wall. A gentle stretch through here is good! Hold for 3-5 seconds, reverse, and then repeat.
Wide Leg Child’s Pose:
A nice easy stretch to let go of the abdominal wall, relax the pelvis and think about your pelvic floor.
From hands and knees position, bring your toes to touch and widen your knees (especially if your belly is big). Drop your bottom toward your ankles. Reach forward with your hands to open up your trunk. An option is to reach either side to really focus on stretching the side of your ribs. Or you could place your head on a pillow in front of you – and relax and think about Length and Space through your body.
Likely the most important, it has to stretch almost three times its resting length to allow your baby to pass through and meet you. Let’s think mobility, length and space here! So you’ve made it to 10cm, and now it’s time for this baby to enter the world – first, it hits the first layer of the pelvic floor – which needs to lengthen and open, then it will hit the perineum, which needs to stretch to get the baby out (hopefully without tearing). A pelvic floor that can move, and lengthen well, will allow enough space for your baby to be born with less resistance to exit.
A nice position to feel your pelvic floor is in child’s pose or leaning over a swiss ball.
Take a breath in; as you’re breathing out, squeeze and lift your pelvic floor. Breathe in – drop and open. The goal here isn’t to have a super strong pelvic floor that can hold for a long time. The aim is to feel the full range of contraction and relaxation, however mostly focusing on the letting go, lengthening, softening and widening of the pelvic floor for birth.
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