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It’s time to Preggercise

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Put on your wrist bands, your headband, your leg warmers and your leotard – it’s time to preggercise!

In addition to your continuation of general exercises and Kegels that we’ve discussed before, there are some other pregnancy exercises that can help you to get in good condition for your natural birth.

Squatting

This exercise gets your body in the natural alignment for birth.  It also helps to condition your leg muscles.  This position is imitated in most birthing positions and squatting in labor shortens the birth canal and second stage and opens the pelvis outlet by more than 10%. 

Stand straight with legs spaced comfortably apart.  Bend your knees slightly, tuck your hips under, then bend forward and squat with both heels flat on the floor.  To return, raise your tail end first halfway, then place your hands on your knees and bring yourself all the way back up.

You may need support from your partner by locking wrists as your belly grows and at first you may not be able to keep your feet flat on the ground.  Do this exercise any time you need to pick up something.

Pelvic Rocking 

This exercise is the cure all to a lot of pregnancy aches and pains.  It relieves pressure on the lower back, blood vessels, uterus and bladder.  It increases circulation and improves digestion.  Pelvic rocking tones and conditions your lower back and abdominal muscles.

Get down on your hands and knees, relax your back, then level off and tuck hips under.  Only the lower half of the body should move and the back should not be arched.

You should aim to do a few sets of a few repetitions every day.

Tailor Sitting 

This exercise stretches the inner thighs.  It also increases circulation and encourages the uterus to move forward.

Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.  Maintain good posture.  You can vary your position by leaning back or forward or stretching open a leg or two occasionally.

Gradually incorporate this into your daily routine.

Butterfly

This exercise conditions your abductor muscles and allows you to pull your legs back more comfortably in second stage labor.

Sit on the floor leaning against a wall with your knees bent and up and your feet together and flat on the floor.  Your partner uses the palms of his hands on the outside of your knees to apply gentle resistance while you try to open your legs.  Go down as far as comfortable and return without resistance to the starting point.

One set of ten once a day is sufficient.

Side relaxation/sleep position

This exercise/position helps circulation and allows for all of baby’s weight to be supported. 

Lay on your side with both knees slightly bent and the top leg forward supported by a pillow.  Another pillow may support your head and breasts and perhaps one under your belly.  Your bottom arm can be behind you or over above your head.

The point of this exercise is to have every part of your body supported so there is no added weight or stress on any part of your body and nothing is getting circulation restricted.  Use this position for sleeping.

As with any physical exercise, you should consult your medical professional with any questions or concerns or if you have any pregnancy complications, back, neck or knee injuries.

Exercise instructions are paraphrased from The Bradley Method® Student Workbook, 2008 by Marjie, Jay and James Hathaway

Let’s get physical

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Regular physcial exercises during pregnancy goes hand and hand with good nutrition and pregnancy exercises.  Giving birth is a physical activity in itself and requires training and physical preparedness.  The condition you are in physically will make a difference in your birth.  You will use muscles you haven’t used before and stamina will be needed.

As with any physical exercise, you should consult your medical professional with any questions or concerns or if you have any pregnancy complications, back, neck or knee injuries.  While pregnant, you should avoid lying on your back, jogging or bouncing, balance exercises, overworking yourself and raising your temperature or pulse beyond a safe range and anything that hurts when you are exercising.  Make sure to stay hydrated and avoid exhaustion.

Many women can continue to do the activity or exercise that they are used to doing but the intensity may need to be modified.  Walking is a great exercise for pregnant women and especially in late pregnancy it can help to align baby and bring him down or even speed up labor.  Swimming is an exercise I really enjoyed while pregnant.  It takes a lot of weight and pressure off due to the buoyancy and equilibriating effect of water.  Kickboards are useful in late pregnancy as well to help ease the exercise.

It is also good to continue with regular exercise post-pregnancy as well (once given the go ahead by your medical professional).  There are a lot of great options that include baby (they make great resistance) in your routine as well.