Best Exercises for a Natural Delivery

Using exercises to prepare for labor can help you get your body ready for your big day. Labor can be a long and arduous task, and if you’re not fit, it can be tough on your body. Getting in shape during pregnancy is perfectly fine as long as your doctor approves. There are plenty of exercises that can help you safely build and tone the right muscle groups to deliver your baby. This article will go over a few safe exercises you can do all through your pregnancy by trimester, and give you helpful tips for best results, and safety.

Exercises for a Natural Delivery

You may not be thinking about labor early in pregnancy, but with your doctors okay, exercise is good throughout pregnancy. You can start as soon as you know you’re expecting and work through each trimester with the right exercises to get you ready. Here are some exercises you can do by trimester: 

First Trimester (0-3 months)

Your pregnancy has just began, and while you may feel more tired or nauseous, you still have time to get in some regular exercise before you start showing. As long as your doctor approves, you can do most workouts you did prior to pregnancy. Here are some good exercises to prepare for labor in the first trimester:

  • Side Bends

Get down on the floor on your right hip. Bend knees to the left and grab your ankle with your left hand. Pull your right arm to the side over your head and lean into your left side. Lift up into your ribs and contract your abdominal muscles. Hold for one breath and release. Take your right hand down to the floor and push your hip up off the floor. Make sure you are firmly balanced on your right foot. Keep your left leg straight and press into the floor with the left foot. Reach your arm up over your head and stretch to the side. Squeeze your abdominal muscles and hold. Release and return to the floor. You can do this 5 to 10 times, as tolerated.

  •   Squats

Place a dumbbell in each hand and stand with your feet a shoulder width apart. Slowly lower your body while bending your knees. Only squat as far as you are comfortable. Hold for 2 to 3 breaths and raise back up. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

  • Curls  

Grab a dumbbell in either your right or left hand. Raise arm to shoulder height and keep straight. Bring the dumbbell to your shoulder, then lower till your arm is straight again. Do 6 to 10 repetitions on each arm.

Second Trimester (4-7 Months)

As you enter your second trimester, you will most likely be noticing a bump in your belly. While you have a new burst of energy to do more, your center of gravity is starting to change. Exercises will need to be adapted for this to keep you safe from injury.

Yoga is a great way to gently exercise, but still tone up your muscles for labor. It is also a great form of cardiovascular exercise, but with low-impact on your body. It can help you learn good breathing patterns, stretch your muscles, and tone your core muscles for pushing. Just make sure you stick to poses that don’t require too much balance. For good exercises to prepare for labor in the first trimester:

Try these yoga positions:

  • Warrior Pose

Warrior pose is a standing position that doesn’t require much balance, and can tone your abdominal muscles and legs. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and turn your right foot out to the side, while keeping your left pointed forward. Slowly lower yourself by bending your right knee, while keeping your arms outstretched to the sides. Raise back up and point the right foot forward, and shift the left foot pointing to the side. Slowly lower your body to the left while bending the left knee. You can do this 5 to 6 times, then take some slow cleansing breaths.

  • Cat Pose

Get down on your hands and knees and arch your back like a cat. Drop your head and pull your back up higher making your spine round. Straighten back out, then repeat this move 8 to 10 times.

Third Trimester (8 Months to Due Date)

Your third trimester may weigh you down a bit, but there are exercises to prepare during these last months. In this trimester, you will be focusing on getting the baby into position for labor, and getting your pelvis opened up for delivery. Gravity exercises like walking will also help bring baby down into your pelvis. Here are some easy exercises to continue preparing your body:

  • Pelvic Rocks

This is another “hands and knees” type exercise that helps in the third trimester to move your baby into position and take some weight off your lower back. Get down on all fours and slowly rock your pelvis up and down. You can do this as many times as you can tolerate during the day.

  • Frog Legs

This exercise will help open up the pelvic floor and bones to allow for more room to baby to pass through. Sit on the floor and make “frog legs.” To do this, bend your legs at the knees and put your feet flat together. Bring your knees up and then gently push them back down and press them into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, release, and repeat. You can also rock on your bottom gently from side to side. Do this 10 to 12 times.

  • Kegels

This will help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles for delivery, help prevent tearing during delivery, and help them bounce back after baby is born. While you are sitting, just squeeze together the muscles that help you hold in your pee. Squeeze them and hold for as long as you can and release. Try to do 25 to 50 kegels a day for best results.

  • Walk

Walking is one of the best exercises to prepare for labor. Gravity will help pull the baby down, and help move things along once labor has started. You can walk your entire pregnancy and continue to walk up until your due date, unless you’re on bedrest. Try to fit in at least 10 to 20 minutes of walking each day.

Pregnancy Exercise Tips

When doing exercises in pregnancy, you will want to make sure you are safe from injury. It is also important to take care of yourself, since exercising while pregnant will require extra energy. Use these tips to feel your best with exercise during this time:

  • Check with your doctor before starting any exercise program
  • Wear sturdy shoes with good support
  • Have something nearby to hold onto when doing standing exercises
  • Make sure you eat a light snack before exercise for energy
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after
  • Don’t push yourself too hard and rest if you need to
  • Make sure you are on a firm, flat surface
  • Avoid exercises like; contact sports, skiing, horseback riding, waterskiing, or anything that has a risk of falling.
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