Key exercises that prepare you for labor and delivery
By Isa Herrera, MSPT, CSCS, founder of www.PelvicPainRelief.com
Being pregnant can be exhausting, leaving you with a “closed for business” sign from the waist down and no time to work out. Weakened pelvic and core muscles make pregnancy feel torture filled with unexpected pee parties, painful bow-chicka-bow-bow and a sense that your body is no longer your own.
We’ve all been there but this doesn’t have to be a life sentence and there’s no need to blindly hope for some sign of light. There are things you can do keep your core, legs and “lady parts” in shape making it easier than ever to reclaim your pelvic power and body strength. The pelvic floor muscles aka your “lady parts” are connectors to your abdominal muscles and your leg muscles. So to reclaim pelvic power and to keep yourself in the best shape possible during pregnancy I recommend all pregnant women and new moms do three simple exercises. These exercises include Belly Holds, Walls Sits and Perineal stretching exercise. With just 10 minutes a day, we can get you back in business and feeling stronger than ever.
Belly holds – transverse abdominal
Ladies go crunch crazy to get their waist back, but in pregnancy, it’s even harder to work your core and the wrong exercises can create an even bigger baby bulge, incontinence, and pain. While outer abs get all the credit, the inner abs work hard to keep your organs, back and pelvic muscles in place. They also strengthen your lady parts and help you recover your abdominals quicker after the baby comes. The “x” marks the spots where you can feel your deep abdominal muscles being activated.
Belly holds can be done in any position though first timers should start seated or in a semi-inclined position. Draw your belly button simultaneously back towards your spine and up towards your heart, like putting on skinny jeans and sucking your belly in to zip up. You’ve just done the belly hold. Hold for five seconds and release, repeating five times per set. Breathe and exhale throughout. Do three to five sets per day. To reclaim your pelvic power check out the Female Pelvic Freedom checklist here.
Walls sit exercise
Sitting without a chair sounds crazy until you get Beyonce-style legs in just a few minutes each day. This exercise sculpts thighs, calves, and lower abs – increasing endurance using nothing but your body and a wall. This exercise also strengthens your legs so you can maintain any labor position you desire with ease.
Lean flat against a wall, placing your feet one foot in front of you. Tighten your abdominals and slide yourself down until thighs are parallel to the floor, hold for 15 seconds with your arms hanging at your sides. Repeat three times. Increase holding time gradually: 15 seconds / 30 seconds / 45 seconds to utilize non traditional cardio and strengthen your muscles without being damaging or aggressive.
You can do this anywhere in your home while reading, watching tv or listening to music. You can use a physioball as well like in the picture, which will make it a bit easier. Where there’s a wall there’s a way. Your legs will thank you and it’ll help with overall balance, metabolism and movements like lifting your baby and getting up and down off the floor and holding any labor position you want with greater ease.
As you can see ladies, it doesn’t take hours of cardio or expensive gym memberships to keep your pregnant body in shape. All it takes is a few moments of your time and patience. The rest will fall into all the right places.
Perineal massage exercise (Must get MD or midwife permission to do in pregnancy and after the baby comes. Not recommended before 36 weeks in your pregnancy or before six weeks post-partum )
During pregnancy, women can benefit from perineal massage to prepare the pelvic floor muscles for childbirth and delivery. Childbirth includes surprises like perineal tears and unexpected episiotomies, leaving scar tissue behind. So it is important to pay attention to this area during pregnancy and after childbirth.
Take a visual visit with a mirror and familiarize yourself with your perineum. Imagine your lady bits as a clock – twelve o’clock up top within close reach, 6 o’clock near the anus – 3 o’clock to the left and 9 o’clock to the right. You will stretch the 6 o’clock position.
Laying down, place lubricant (such as vitamin E, rose oil, coconut oil check with your caregiver) on your thumb and insert the thumb into your lady parts up to the first knuckle. Start at 6 o’clock by pressing your thumb down for 30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times or as tolerated. Don’t press too hard, stay away from pain. You must get permission from your OBGYN, or midwife or caregiver before doing the perineal stretch exercise.
Need more help? Read this FREE Female Pelvic Freedom Checklist and discover the secrets to reclaiming your pelvic power during pregnancy and after the baby comes.