Every pregnant woman wishes to have a normal and safe delivery of her baby. To have a normal delivery without any complications, it is very important to stay fit during your pregnancy.
During pregnancy, you might go through a lot of physical, mental and emotional changes. It might be hard to deal with all of these changes all at once, but exercise will make you feel a lot better. With regular exercise, you will become less stressed, fitter and more relaxed. The exercises mentioned in this blog will prepare your body for labour and delivery. Follow these tips to keep your body ready for normal delivery of your baby.
If you have not exercised before, start with exercise for just 5-10 minutes per day and slowly increase this to 30 minutes per day
In the following cases, ask your doctor if exercising is safe for you during pregnancy
- If you have had a premature delivery in a previous pregnancy.
- If you have had a miscarriage or abortion in a previous pregnancy.
- If you have any pain in your joints or muscles.
- If you have any vaginal bleeding.
- If your blood sugar level is not normal
- If there are any complications in the placenta or cervix.
Before doing any exercise, always confirm with your doctor that it is safe for you. Wear loose, comfortable clothes during exercise.
1. Exercise for normal delivery: Clamshell Exercise
- Lie down on a mat on your right side with your right hand folded under your head for support.
- Rest your left foot on top of your right foot and bend your knees. Bring your knees in front of you such that your shoulders, hip and feet are in a straight line.
- Keep your left hand on your hip or in front of you. While you do the exercise, this position will maintain the position of your hips. Your hips should not bend forward or backward.
- Keeping your feet together, raise your left knee up as much as you can. Make sure that your hip and right knee are still on the floor and that you are not rotating your hip.
- Stay in this position for 1-2 seconds and slowly bring your left knee back down.
- Repeat raising and lowering your knee 20 times and then do the same on your left side as well. For more comfort after your stomach is bigger, you can keep your back against a wall while doing this exercise.
The clamshell exercise helps in normal delivery by improving the flexibility of your hips and pelvic area (which contains your bladder and reproductive organs).
2. Exercise for normal delivery: Hip raise/bridge exercise
- Lie down on your back on the floor. Place your palms near your thighs.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Now, slowly raise your hips upwards until your shoulders, hips and knees form a straight line. Do not move your neck and shoulders.
- Stay in this position for 5 seconds and then slowly come back down.
- Repeat raising and lowering your hips 8-10 times.
By doing the hip raise exercise during pregnancy, you will get a lot of relief from any pain in your lower back. Also, this exercise also increases the strength in your hips which is necessary during normal delivery.
3. Exercise for normal delivery: Lying cobbler pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you.
- Make the soles of your feet face each other by spreading your legs open and folding your knees.
- Hold your ankles and pull them closer to your body.
- Using your palms, push your knees down as much as you can towards the floor. Don't put too much pressure on your knees while doing this. You will feel your hips and inner thighs stretching.
- Stay in this position for at least 5 seconds and then slowly stretch your legs in front of you. For more comfort, you can sit with your back against a wall or a thick pillow.
The lying cobbler exercise also helps in increasing your flexibility and strength. For having a normal pregnancy, you need to have strong hips.
4. Exercise for normal delivery: Squat exercise
- Stand with your feet spread to the width of your hips. Keep your feet flat on the floor with your toes pointing outwards. Join your palms in front of your chest.
- Once you are comfortable in this position, take a deep breath, and slowly push your hips down to a sitting position. Go as low as you can. This position is called a squat.
- Stay in this position for 5 seconds and then slowly come back up.
- Repeating this up-down movement for 2 minutes. If you are having any difficulty in balancing yourself, sit on a low chair or stool in the squat position.
By doing the squat exercise daily, your thigh muscles become stronger and more flexible. So you will feel less labour pain during normal delivery.
5. Exercise for normal delivery: Upper back stretch
- Sit on the floor with your legs folded in front of you.
- Keep your left palm behind you and your right palm on your left knee.
- Taking a deep breath, slowly twist your body towards your left side. Only turn as much as you are comfortable with. Do not put any extra strain on your body.
- Breathe out and return to your starting position.
- Repeat the same movement on your right side, with your right hand behind you and your left hand on the right knee.
- Do this 5 times on each side.
The upper back stretch will make your back stronger and your waist more flexible. By doing this regularly in your pregnancy, you will feel less pain during normal delivery.
6. Exercise for normal delivery: Sitting glute stretch
- Sit on a chair that has a comfortable height (you should be able to keep your feet flat on the floor when you sit).
- Lift your left leg and place your foot over your right knee.
- Holding your left leg in this position, push your upper body forward. Try to touch your chest to your left knee.
- Feel the stretch in your hips, and slowly come back to the sitting position.
- Repeat this exercise on the other side as well. Do the exercise 5 times on each side.
Be careful not to fall off the chair as you bend down. You can keep a pillow on your leg and rest your chest on it for more comfort.
By doing the sitting glute stretch, your pelvic muscles (muscles in the bladder and uterus) will become stronger. This will make you feel less pain during normal delivery.
7. Exercise for normal delivery: Downward dog pose
- Start in a crawling position on the floor. Your palms should be directly under your shoulders and your knees should be directly under your hips. Spread your fingers wide for more balance.
- Now, slowly raise your hips up and move your feet forward until they are flat on the floor.
- Try to bring your hip, back, neck and arms in a straight line. Don't bend your knees.
- Hold the pose as long as you are comfortable.
- Slowly come back down on your knees and rest for at least 30 seconds before repeating the pose.
By doing the downward dog pose daily, the strength in your hands and legs will increase. The muscles in your hips will also become stronger. This will help you balance the extra weight in your body. Do not do the downward dog pose in the last two months of your pregnancy
Apart from these exercises, go for a walk outside every morning or evening for at least 30 minutes. This will keep you active. You can also go swimming or do water aerobics. The weight of your stomach will feel lighter in the water.
Staying active and fit during pregnancy is very important. Normal delivery can be a painful procedure if your muscles are weak or your body is not flexible. So try to make a habit of exercising during these months so that you prepare your body for normal delivery. You can also ask your husband to exercise with you. This will be a great bonding experience for you and your husband.