The final few weeks of pregnancy is similar to an endurance test: you’re ready to go, but your body and your baby need a little more time. The right kind of exercises, such as gentle yoga and stretching exercises, can tone and strengthen your body and make labor and delivery easier. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for these exercises, and do them in a quiet, well-ventilated room that is neither too hot nor too cold.
While you’re watching the hours go by and waiting for those regular contractions, try the following exercises that can prepare your body for childbirth:
This exercise is easy to do, and it feels great. Your body is more flexible during pregnancy, and this exercise capitalizes on your newfound looseness. Tailor sitting strengthens and stretches your back, thigh and pelvic muscles while improving your posture. It also keeps your pelvic joints flexible, and improves blood flow to your lower body, which can ease delivery.
To do this exercise, sit on the floor with your back straight. Bring the soles of your feet together. Pull them in toward your body as far as you comfortably can. Let your knees drop toward the floor. Stay relaxed, and don’t force anything. Use your elbows to gently press your knees towards the floor.
In many parts of the world, mothers deliver their babies in a squatting position. In this position, your pelvic outlet opens to an extra quarter or half inch. This may not seem like much, but when you’re delivering your child, you’ll appreciate every bit of extra space. Sitting in a squatting position can be a good way to prepare for delivery.
Squatting is easier for some people than others. Don’t do this if you have trouble with your knees or hips. Try to squat with your feet flat on the floor, with your weight resting in the center of your pelvis.
To get into the correct squatting position, try this strategy: stand with your back straight against a wall. Place your feet shoulder width apart with your heels about six inches from the wall. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides. Keeping your back straight, slowly and gently slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Try to keep your heels on the floor, but if you need to, come up onto your toes slightly.
Stay in the squatting position for a few minutes at a time. Try to find time to do this a few times each day. It should become more and more comfortable. As long as you are comfortable, increase the amount of time you stay in the position.
The pelvic tilt is an isometric exercise that helps your posture, strengthens your abdominal muscles, relieves backache during pregnancy and labor, and eases delivery. The pelvic tilt can also make your back more flexible.
To do this exercise, kneel on the floor, then move into a hands-and-knees position. Keep your head in line with your back. Gently pull in your stomach and arch your back upward. Hold this position for several seconds. Then relax your stomach and back, keeping your back flat and preventing your stomach to sag. Repeat this exercise three to five times at first. Increase your repetitions as you do this each day, and gradually work your way up to ten pelvic tilts at a time.
Try to do these exercises daily in the last few weeks before your due date. Preparing your body now will pay off with a smoother and more relaxed labor and delivery.
Source: The Mayo Clinic Guide to Healthy Pregnancy