Prenatal Exercises that help with Labor & Delivery

You probably know that exercise is not only allowed during pregnancy, but actually encouraged.  While extreme exercise isn’t recommended, keeping your body moving will increase oxygenated blood flow to your baby and give moms the energy they need to sustain a pregnancy.

Another great benefit of exercise is that it increases stamina and endurance, two important requirements for labor and delivery.  Studies show that moms who are in better shape before and during pregnancy have a shorter and easier labor because they are better able to handle the physical demands.  After all, they don’t call it labor for nothing.

The main muscles required for labor and delivery are those of your core.  Core muscles include a range of abdominal muscles, back muscles and the pelvic floor.  The weight of your growing belly requires a lot of back strength.  Going into labor with a sore back will only make things worse during the process.  The most significant abdominal muscle required for childbirth is the transverse abdominus, which warps around your lower core.  This muscle expands and contracts forwards and backwards and can help you push during delivery.   Additionally, a strong pelvic floor supports an easier vaginal birth and also improves incontinence after childbirth, a common complaint of women who have had vaginal deliveries.

So which exercises are best suited to prepare you for childbirth?  We’ve got your covered with these prenatal exercises that help with labor and delivery:

Prenatal Exercises that help with Labor & Delivery

Pelvic Tilt:  Lower yourself to an animal-like position on all fours starting with your head in line with your neutral back.  Slowly draw in your pelvis as if there were a string pulling your belly button towards your hands.  Your back will create a camel hump.  Hold this curl for 5 seconds and then release into the opposite position with your tailbone stretched upwards as much as possible.  Repeat 10 times.

Kegels:  This is the tried and true exercise that all women should do for a stronger pelvic floor.  This exercise can be done almost anywhere so take advantage of quiet moments in your car, at your desk or in bed to get in four or five kegel sessions a day.  Kegels are done by drawing in your vaginal muscles without using your thighs, butt or abs.  If you aren’t sure how to do it, try stopping yourself during urination and you’ll recognize the muscles you’re targeting in a kegel.

Butterfly:  Sit on the floor with the bottoms of your feet clapping.  Your legs will look sort of like butterfly wings.  Push your legs towards the floor until you feel a stretch.  Sit up with your back as tall as possible.  Do not bounce the stretch.  This will open your hips and pelvis while also supporting your back muscles and posture.

Squat:  This oldie but goodie is hard but effective.  With your feet shoulder distance apart, bend your knees and lean backwards so your weight is only on your heels.  Never let your knees come further than your toes.  Straighten and repeat.  Squats open your pelvis significantly, which is helpful when you’re trying to push a pair of baby shoulders through such a narrow cavity.

Belly Breathing:  Sitting upright on the floor with your legs crossed, hold your belly and take deep breaths in-and-out.  Use your abdominal muscles to expand and contract with each breath.  The inner transverse abdominus will help you push your baby along the birth canal during contractions.

Childbirth is physically demanding but you can prepare your body with these prenatal exercises that help with labor and delivery.  Ready…Set…Push!