Giving birth can be a traumatic experience for your body, but there are some things you can do to prepare your body for birthing.
CONTINUE TO EXERCISE
Unless directed otherwise by your OBGYN or Midwife, exercise is safe and beneficial during pregnancy. Not only does exercise prepare you for the physical feat of labor and birthing, it also improves outcomes for mother and baby. Recommended dose: 150 minutes per week, spread out over at least 3 days, include a combo of aerobic and resistance training.
You can read more on safely incorporating exercise during your pregnancy in my previous post.
PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE TRAINING
This isn’t just Kegals! It’s learning to lift and strengthen as well as to soften and release the pelvic floor muscles. Learning to control the muscles of the pelvic floor can help with the ability to open and lengthen them during labor. Training these muscles during pregnancy can also help reduce incontinence (urine leaking) during and after pregnancy.
Breathing strategies can help with labor and birthing by reducing pain and having a calming effect. It also coordinates with the pelvic floor to help the muscle soften and expand on the inhale.
– Inhale and expand the belly and ribs. Try to feel your rib cage lift outward in all directions: to the front back and both sides of you. Feel your belly rise, and the pelvic floor descend towards your feet.
– Exhale and release. Let the rib cage move inward. Continue to exhale and feel the abdominals gently tighten and the pelvic floor gently lift upward.
PELVIC TILTS & ROCKS
These exercises can help reduce back pain and improve back, hip and sacral mobility to prepare for the opening of the birthing canal. Pain management and mobility are important for being able to find comfortable labor positions. Doing pelvic rocks during labor can actually help progress the baby to the birthing canal.
PRACTICE YOUR POSITIONING
Some birthing providers will work with you to find the best positions in which to birth your baby. If the person helping to deliver your baby has options for you, try getting in the various positions prior to labor and finding which ones feel best for you! A few examples are: a deep squat, on your hands and knees, on your back with your knees bent to varying degrees and positions, side lying with your top knee bent and pulled upwards.
These suggestions are not a substitute for medical advice. As always, talk to your doctor if you have any questions or special considerations.