If you ask your doctor, “What is the best thing I can do for my pregnancy and birth?” I bet you he will say to exercise. Ask him the next time you see him and prove me right.
Exercise is the BEST thing you can do for yourself, your baby, your pregnancy, your labor, your delivery, and even your post partum recovery!
So I put together the best easy pregnancy exercises that I guarantee will make your labor and delivery easier.
Benefits From Easy Pregnancy Exercises
I’m sure you know that exercise is great for you. But it’s even MORE so during pregnancy. Some of the many benefits include:
- stronger muscles
- stronger cardiovascular system
- healthier metabolism
- lowered blood pressure
- better utilization of oxygen
- easier labor contractions
- shorter delivery time
So just think of what exercise will do for your baby on top of that.5 Easy Pregnancy Exercises Guaranteed To Make Your Delivery Easier #pregnancy #pregnant #exerciseClick To Tweet
I Promise You’ll Feel Better
You’re probably thinking, “Okay, Sarah, I don’t need the lecture. How am I supposed to exercise when it’s already SO hard for me, let alone that I’m pregnant?” I get it.
Maybe you’re in your first trimester and you’re still puking everyday. So the very idea makes you feel sick.
Or your belly is starting to get in your way and the thought of sloshing it around isn’t appealing. Or you’re already so big that your back pain persuades you from doing anything but rest.
But just TRUST me. No matter how you feel, try these very basic exercises for a week and then come tell me how much better you DO feel.
- pelvic tilts
- tailor sitting
Start with one exercise and add another the next day, building up to get all of these going. These are super simple!
These are the muscles in your pelvic floor right that control your urinary, vaginal, and rectal areas. When you’re using the bathroom, these relax in order for you to pee or poop.
- Next time you’re in the bathroom, stop your urine mid-flow. THOSE are the muscles I’m talking about. Once you can feel where they are, you can easily contract and relax them at any time.
- It doesn’t really matter how many repetitions you do per day, just pick a time during your day and try to do them consistently for at least 10 minutes, holding for a second or two, over and over.
This is the EASIEST exercise because you can do them when you’re sitting, standing, wherever, and no one knows you’re doing them.
I would always do kegels while I was commuting back and forth to work, which would add up to about an hour total of my day.
Tips & Tricks For Kegels
- They’re easier to do when you’re sitting.
- Use a kegel trainer if it’s easier for you. Sometimes just feeling something ‘in there’ really helps.
The Benefits Of Kegels
- It decreases the urinary incontinence you will unfortunately get while pregnant. It doesn’t eliminate those accidental trickles, but it certainly reduces them.
- Your pelvic floor is stronger for holding all of that baby weight.
- You’re less likely to tear your perineum during birth.
- You can push that baby out better during delivery.
Now there is a wrong way to do squats and a right way to do squats. I actually did them wrong my entire first pregnancy. So I don’t want you to make that mistake.
- Stand in front of a chair.
- Then stick your butt way out behind you as if you’re going to sit down on the chair, but DON’T fully sit in the chair, just hover above it.
- Keep your shoulders back and your head up, but let your waist bend as much as you need.
- Squeeze your thigh and butt muscles in order to hold you up and keep your back straight.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor and lower down as far as you can go.
It’s okay to hold onto a railing or table until you get the feel for them.
Tips & Tricks For Squats
- Don’t let your knees move farther forward than your feet. They can certainly bend and shift forward a bit, but keep them above your feet best you can.
- It’s okay to widen your feet placement until you get stronger. The closer together your feet, the stronger you will become.
- Hold onto an exercise ball for stability.
Do these all the time. Now, I don’t mean constantly, I just mean in all of
your every day movements. Bending will over-strain your back, another reason for your back pain.
You can gradually sit all the way down so that your bum is pretty much touching the floor in order to rest a little bit. But you may fall over a few times before you get the hang of it.
The Benefits of Squatting
- Your back, pelvic and legs muscles will all be stronger to carry that baby.
- Your delivery will be easier and faster! Enough said.
- You’re opening up your pelvic area that needs to be as flexible as possible for when the baby comes through.
Growing up, I knew this as sitting indian-style, or cross-legged. It’s how little kids sit down on the floor all the time.
- Sit down on the floor.
- Bend your knees so they’re facing outward.
- Keep your feet in the center, one foot tucked under the other.
- Lean forward a little so your belly hangs down in the middle of your legs.
Do this as much as possible, keeping your legs spread open as you sit as often as you can. I know it might not seem very lady-like or attractive, but you’ll thank me later.
I would take my shoes off at work so that it was easier for me to cross my legs as I sat in my work chair. If I was at church, I would try to just tuck one foot underneath my bum. (And really, no one will say anything because you’re pregnant.)
I know that for the first few days your knees will be a little sore. This is because they’re stretching in a way that you probably haven’t done much of in a long time. Rub some pain-a-trate on them and you’ll be good as new.Don't EVER sit with one leg crossed over the other! This is the exact opposite of what you want. #pregnancyClick To Tweet
Tips & Tricks For Tailor Sitting
- Don’t EVER sit traditionally with your legs crossed one over the other! This is the exact opposite of what you want. This will cause you more pain because you’re making your pelvis close up when it’s trying to relax and open.
- How to do it more often? Sit on the floor as you:
- eat your dinner
- when you fold your laundry
- playing with your kids or dog
- as you organize your purse
The Benefits of Tailor Sitting
- This opens up your pelvic area, getting the space ready for that little baby to come through.
- It helps you with your squats by getting your hips and knees positioned in a way that keeps your joints stronger.
- It takes the pressure off of your back and pelvis as you sit, allowing your pelvic muscles to strengthen as they carry your baby weight.
- The swelling in your legs and ankles will go way down.
Here’s how to do them. It’s a combination of the cat/cow yoga move and kettle bell swings without a kettle bell.
- Get on your hands and knees, shoulder width apart, forming 90 degree angles with your back and the floor.
- Just let your belly hang there for a bit. Isn’t it great to have all the weight off of your hips and back? Do this as long as you want.
But onto the actual exercise:
- Arch your back as high as you can curve it.
- Thrust your pelvis forward, in a rocking motion
- Squeeze your butt muscles and your lower abs as you do so.
- Hold this for a few seconds, then relax and repeat.
As your belly gets bigger, you’ll feel how your back muscles get stronger and you particularly you can lift up that baby weight solely with your muscles instead of your bones.
Tips & Tricks For Pelvic Tilts
- Try to do at least 50 a day. I know it’s a big number. If you can’t make it, no problem. Just add a few more the next day. Soon you’ll be able to far surpass that number.
- Don’t push your belly and back downward into the ‘cat’ position, like in yoga. You may strain your spine.
The Benefits of Pelvic Tilts
- Your back, abdominal, and pelvic muscles will strengthen far more than simply sitting on the couch.
- It will ELIMINATE your back pain if done consistently, more and more.
- All of the muscles you use to push that baby out will be toned and ready for when you deliver.
- You posture won’t lag, leading to increased back and neck pain, but will provide proper support to the rest of your body.
Do I need to even explain this one? This will help with aches and pains, increase blood flow and oxygen to that baby, release hormones and endorphins that are a great benefit to you and your baby, let alone all the same benefits as the previous exercises.
Now I’m not talking about simple walks around the block. I mean something that is still going to get your huffing and puffing a little.
Even if it’s five minutes a day consistently, that it a HUGE benefit already. Just imagine if you were to work up to 30 minutes a day.
Tips & Tricks For Hiking
- Work in a few small hills or inclines on your route. Hills are the number one thing that can help you get more out of your exercise than having to run or walk for even longer amounts of time.
- Carry water in a backpack to help balance out the load and stay hydrated.
- Wear awesome clothing that is designed for exercise and heat. I wear these kapris and shirts from Under Armor.
- Have excellent shoes with in soles for support.
The Benefits of Hiking
- It will augment and shorten your labor. The movement of walking is so fluid and reinforces the direct movement your baby will take during delivery.
- It will decrease the amount of time that you’re in labor, especially if done prior and during your labor.
If it’s too much, take it slow, decrease your time, rest a for a short while. There’s nothing wrong with going easy on yourself.
Stick With It
Just remember that it will become easier tomorrow and the next day if you’re consistent. If you’re consistent, your marathon of the delivery will be SO much easier. I promise!I always felt better, strong, and lighter during pregnancy after doing these exercises. #pregnant #pregnancyClick To Tweet
You’ll want to be doing all of these at a bare minimum while you’re pregnant. Here’s a recap:
- kegels, daily with as many reps as you can
- squats, daily as much as you can
- pelvic tilts, 50+ tilts daily
- tailor sitting, as much as you can when sitting
- hiking, a few days a week so that your heart rate gets up
If you’re ready to take things up a notch, I recommend MuTu System for pregnancy and recovering moms. They focus on all the essential exercise and routines to keep your pelvic floor and body strong.
You’re going to be great! It’s a lot of work, and there will be days when you absolutely don’t care about exercise because you’re sick and tired of being pregnant.
But I’ll say this: I have NEVER regretted forcing myself to get up and exercise, even simply, during my three pregnancies. I always felt better, strong, and lighter. You will too.