Exercise can make childbirth easier and relieve labor pain. Modern research supports the benefits of physical activity for women who choose natural birth. If you don’t train your muscles, labor can take a toll of your body. Deep breathing, pilates, kegels, and other labor-prep moves will make a huge difference. Certain exercises engage the muscles you will use during the last hours of pregnancy, which helps ease pain and discomfort.
According to health experts, squats are the most important exercise for childbirth. It not only strengthens your legs, but also works your core and pelvic floor muscles. Regular squatting may shorten labor by an hour, helping move the baby along. Moms-to-be can practice wall squats, up to three sets of 12-15 reps each. Place an exercise ball between your back and the wall for greater stability.
Kegels target the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, uterus, and bowels. Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor, leading to incontinence and organ prolapse. When done regularly, kegel exercises strengthen these muscles, improve your sex life, and make labor easier. If you feel pain in your back or abdomen, you’re not doing them correctly. For best results, kegels can be combined with biofeedback.
This ancient practice focuses on breathing, which plays a key role in childbirth. Future moms who practice yoga are shown how to breathe away the tension in their bodies, open their hips, and relax during labor. Certain poses work the pelvic floor muscles, preparing your body for the demands of pregnancy.
The pelvic tilt is one of the best exercises for moms-to-be. This move relieves back pain during pregnancy, strengthens the core muscles, and eases labor. You can do it from day one and continue through all the nine months of pregnancy. Pelvic tilts are safe and require no equipment.
Swimming a few times a week will keep you fit during pregnancy. It’s also a good way to strengthen your core and legs, calm your mind, and prepare your body for labor. This simple form of exercise improves blood flow to your heart and muscles, which is important for you and your baby. The water also supports your joints and makes you feel weightless. Most moms experience greater energy, stress relief, and better sleep after a swimming session. Just make sure you don’t dive into the pool because it can be dangerous.