Friday, May 9, 2008

Preparing for Labor: Exercises you can do

Preparing for labor
During the final months of pregnancy,
a few simple exercises can help prepare your muscles for labor.

For example, Kegel exercises help tone your pelvic floor muscles. Simply tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping your stream of urine. Try it for five seconds at a time, four or five times in a row. Repeat throughout the day.
Various other exercises target the muscles that will receive the most stress during labor and delivery.

Tailor sitting
The tailor sitting position stretches the muscles in your thighs and pelvis. It also improves your posture, keeps your pelvic joints flexible and increases blood flow to your lower body.
Sit on the floor with your back straight. Bring the bottoms of your feet together, pull your heels toward your groin and gently drop your knees. You'll feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Try tailor sitting anytime you're able to sit on the floor.
If it's difficult to sit in this position, use a wall to support your back or place cushions under each thigh. Remember to keep your back straight.

Pelvic rock
The pelvic rock stretches the muscles in the lower back, which helps relieve backaches.
Rest on your hands and knees with your head in line with your back. Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly. Hold the position for several seconds. Then relax your stomach and back, keeping your back as flat as possible. Repeat several times. Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.
You can do a similar exercise leaning against a wall. Simply stand up straight and push the small of your back against a wall.

Wall slide
Squatting during labor can help open the pelvic outlet, which gives your baby more room to descend through the birth canal. But squatting is tiring. It may help to practice ahead of time.
Try the wall slide. Stand with your back against a wall, your feet shoulder-width apart. Slide down the wall until you're in a sitting position. Hold the position for a few seconds and then slide back up. Repeat several times. Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.
For less stress on your knees, try the wall slide with an exercise ball behind your back. You can also squat without the wall. Keep your back straight and your feet shoulder-width apart.