No matter how excited you are about being pregnant, you’re probably more than a little nervous about labor and delivery. There’s no doubt that the birth process comes with physical and emotional stress.
Preparing your body ahead of time can help you stay more comfortable and relaxed, all the way through the delivery of your new family member. As long as you’re healthy, prenatal exercises can be a great way to get ready for the labor and delivery process.
Paul W. Morrison, M.D., whose practice is in Newburgh, Indiana, and serves the Evansville area, is an expert in helping moms-to-be get ready for the birth process. His patient-centered pregnancy care includes giving lifestyle guidance aimed at preparing women for their big day. In this post, Dr. Morrison offers some helpful tips about prenatal exercises and how they can help ease the rigors of giving birth.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly fine to exercise and be physically active throughout pregnancy, including in the weeks leading up to delivery. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week throughout pregnancy, with activity spread out during the week.
The key is to work with your doctor to determine the best prenatal exercises for your health and the health of your baby, so you can prevent potential complications. Generally speaking, the best exercises during pregnancy are those that provide gentle stretching and aerobics and don’t involve high-impact activities.
Exercise offers plenty of benefits for moms-to-be. For example, a regular exercise routine may help reduce back pain and swelling as well as help you maintain a healthy weight during every stage of pregnancy.
Furthermore, research suggests that prenatal exercise can reduce the time spent in labor and help prevent exhaustion during the labor process. While being fit may not reduce the discomfort of giving birth, a shorter labor may shorten the length of discomfort.
Regular exercise may also help you decrease psychological stress, which may help reduce anxiety during the labor and delivery process. And, to round out this list of benefits, engaging in prenatal exercise might make it easier for you to shed the “baby weight” in the weeks and months following birth.
You may derive the most labor-related benefits by focusing on exercises that improve strength and flexibility in the hips, pelvic area, lower back, and core. Muscles in these areas are deeply involved in the labor and delivery process.
And, as mentioned, the best exercises involve gentle stretching and aerobics and nothing that’s high-impact. Many prenatal exercise programs also target the joints, ligaments, and tendons in these areas. Activities that can help in this regard include:
While some weight-lifting is OK for upper body strength, it’s a good idea to talk with Dr. Morrison about which activities are safe, especially as you approach the later stages of pregnancy.
Stretching exercises can also play an important role in preparing your body for labor and delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists offers a list of eight simple stretches you can do right in your home. These moves can help tone your lower back and your pelvic muscles prior to giving birth.
Prenatal exercise is important during every stage of pregnancy, but before embarking on any fitness program, it’s very important to talk with Dr. Morrison first. Even if you routinely engaged in exercise prior to your pregnancy, some pregnancy-related changes may mean you need to alter your exercise routine or abstain from specific activities.
To learn more about the benefits of prenatal exercise, call 812-490-5200 or book an appointment online with the practice of Paul W. Morrison, M.D., today.