Once you find out you’re pregnant, there are a million things to get ready! Today we’re thrilled to introduce Prenatal Pilates Instructor, Ali Handley, who will be breaking down some easy exercises that may help prepare your body for giving birth. Let us know what you think, and be sure to check back for more from Ali.
I like to think of childbirth as a marathon — you are going to need to train for it! You will require physical stamina, muscle endurance, strength and whole lot of mind control so as you enter your third trimester and now is the time to prepare your body for the physical challenges ahead. Here are my top 3 moves to help get your body “race ready” for childbirth.
If you do plan on natural childbirth, having strong legs will be crucial to ensure you can hold some of the recommended birthing positions. Squatting can also help your baby get into the right head down position.
- Inhale through your nose and sit back into the squat.
- Exhale out your mouth and first feel your belly button pull into your spine — keep this connection as you push through your feet and stand back up.
- Do 3 sets of 8.
Challenge: Hold the squat between each set for 8 breaths. This is great practice for the mind control you will need for labor. Focus on keeping your breaths long and even. This skill can be used during a contraction.
Pliés are a wonderful way to keep your lower body strong in the third trimester, helping provide support for your pelvis and growing baby. Reverse breathing is an important technique to learn as you approach the birth. This is the breath pattern you will use in the pushing phase of labor. It’s important to master this skill and be able to harness the power of your exhale to fully release the pelvic floor so the baby can come out.
- To set up, stand with legs wide apart and your feet externally rotated (think 2nd position in ballet) and your knees tracking over the second toes.
- Inhale through your nose and grow tall through your spine.
- Exhale a long slow even breath out your mouth and bend your knees, lowering straight down into a plié. Focus on a full release of your pelvic floor as you lower down.
- Inhale again through your nose and lift the pelvic floor, hug your baby to your spine, push through your feet and stand back up to the start position.
- Do 3 sets of 8.
Challenge: Hold the plié in between each set for 8 breaths and practice the reverse breathing technique while your pelvic floor is stretched out.
PELVIC FLOOR STRETCHING
The pelvic floor muscles are an incredible system made up of three different layers that support your baby as it grows. As you approach childbirth you need to begin to stretch these muscles so they can fully release to enable the baby to come out. There are lots of ways to gently stretch out the pelvic floor — in a plié, child’s pose or just sitting with your feet together and knees apart (butterfly stretch) — but this wall slide is a nice way to incorporate breath into it as well.
- To set up, place a yoga block or stack of pillows against the wall. Stand with your back to the wall with your feet out in front of you.
- Inhale through your nose as you begin to slowly slide down the wall.
- Exhale a long, slow, even breath out your mouth as you continue down the wall allowing your pelvic floor to fully release.
- Keep going down, maintaining the pelvic floor stretch, until you reach the yoga block or pillows. Once you are down, slowly butterfly the knees open and gently apply pressure just above the knees to get an additional stretch. Hold the stretch for 90 seconds. Close the knees and then repeat again.
- Do this 3 times.
~Ali Handley, BodyLove Pilates
Ali is a certified pilates instructor and founder of BodyLove Pilates, an online pilates studio for pregnant and postnatal women. She’s also mother to two small children Lyla and Henry.
This post is solely for informational purposes. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for health advice. Before undertaking any course of exercise, you should seek the advice of your physician or other health care provider.