Late-stage pregnancy is such a unique time for many women. Discomfort is starting to set in (for some much earlier than others!) and there is often this weird tug of war between the you who is just sick of being pregnant and the you who is nervous and maybe a bit frightened about what lies ahead. The birth can be the cause of much anxiety, especially when it is your first one. Is it going to hurt? Will you be able to cope? Will you be ok? Will your baby be ok?
Staying strong and fit can improve your health, birth and recovery time, but there are also some more specific things you can do to improve your awareness and confidence in your body to help you cope with your labour (if you’re planning on having one) and help to give you a better birthing experience.
Here are my 3 favourite exercises to prepare your body for birth:
1. Supported pelvic mobility
I love these exercises because not only do they feel great and often help relieve back ache, but they can also be used as positions during labour to help manage pain during contractions.
- In kneeling, rest your arms on a couch, chair or fitball. Rest your head on your arms
- Rocking: rock your hips from side to side, feeling your weight gently shift and your lower back start to loosen up.
- Circles: Now practice circling around in one direction with the hips / pelvis for 5-10 reps, and then repeat in the opposite direction.
- Pelvic tilts: gently tuck your tailbone under as you flex your lower back, then stick your tailbone out as you let your lower back arch and tummy drop.
Continue for as long as you like / feel comfortable.
2. Child’s pose
This is a great resting position that also works wonders in mobilising the back of your rib cage and gives the added benefit of lengthening your pelvic floor.
- In kneeling, separate your knees (to make room for your tummy)
- Sit back on your heels, reach out with your hands (palms down) and rest your forehead on the ground
- Now take some deep breaths. On the inhale, breathe into your back and ribcage while you feel your pelvic floor relax and lengthen. On the exhale, let every last bit of air leave your lungs as you feel your pelvic floor gently lift
Repeat for 5-10 deep breaths.
3. Deep squat
This is one I often get my late stage pregnancy mums to do, if they can get into the position comfortably. It can also help to relax and lengthen the pelvic floor in preparation for labour
(Avoid this one if you have pelvic girdle (particularly pubic symphysis) pain or if it aggravates any tailbone, hip or back pain).
- Stand with your legs wide and toes turned out
- Slowly lower into a deep squat position, trying to keep feet as flat as possible and allowing your tailbone to sink to the ground
- Breathe deeply, again breathing into your back ribcage as your pelvic floor relaxes and breathe out as your pelvic floor gently lifts.
Hang out here for about 1 minute before slowly returning to standing.
There you have it! 3 simple exercises to help you (and your pelvic floor) feel more prepared for birth!