By Momlovesbest.com https://momlovesbest.com/pregnancy-stretches
We are pleased to share this guest blog from Mom Loves Best who are an online community, created to provide informative content for mums and mums-to-be. All of the authours at Mom Loves Best are parents who have personal experience with the topics they write about, and are dedicated to ensuring their content is current, scientifically accurate and reader focused.
Are you a mum-to-be and looking for stretches to keep you healthy and prepare your body for labour? Wondering which stretches are safe and which ones you need to avoid?
Regular exercise is essential for a healthy and happy pregnancy, and stretching is a great, gentle way to do so. Stretching works all the right muscles to help keep you feeling your best as your pregnancy progresses. Plus, you can do them while you’re watching TV or resting in bed.
In this post, we will talk about the benefits of stretching during pregnancy, which stretches you should avoid, and cover some general safety tips. We will also cover ten simple stretches you can do throughout your pregnancy and how to do them properly.
Regular stretching throughout your pregnancy will help you feel healthier and happier, especially as you get toward the end of your pregnancy. It will help you stay relaxed and keep you feeling comfortable in your changing body.
There are also many specific poses that can be used to help alleviate common pregnancy discomforts, such as backaches and hip pain (1).
Stretching makes you more flexible and helps tone and relax your muscles, preparing your body for the rigors of childbirth. Daily stretching aids in the recovery of organ tone and placement after birth and helps prevent prolapse of the pelvic organs.
Women who engage in stretching and other physical activity during pregnancy have also been shown to experience less pain during labour, giving them a higher chance at a natural delivery (2).
But these are just a few of the many benefits of regular stretching. Stretching during pregnancy also helps:
It’s always a good idea to consult with your care provider before starting any exercise program when you’re expecting. Your doctor may have certain restrictions for you, especially if you are at risk for preterm labour, or have placenta previa, high blood pressure, or were prescribed bed rest.
Here are just a few things to keep in mind when doing prenatal stretches:
Relaxin is a pregnancy hormone causing your joints and ligaments to loosen to grow and give birth to your baby, keep in mind that your body continues to produce relaxin as long as you are breastfeeding. So joints will not be as stable as you are used to when you get back to more normal exercise. Keep this in mind and be gentle with yourself during pregnancy and postpartum and prevent injury.
Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
Generally speaking, you can go about exercising like normal throughout the first trimester. After the first trimester, you will need to start making some adjustments, as you will become more prone to injury as your pregnancy progresses.
During your second and third trimesters you will want to avoid:
You will also want to use caution with any balancing stretches, as they come with a risk of falling now that your belly is larger and your center of gravity has shifted. Avoid balancing poses or modify them by doing them up against a wall
These 10 stretches will help set you up for a healthy pregnancy and easier labour.
Squats are one of the best exercises for preparing for and giving birth. They strengthen your legs, open your hips and lower back, and encourage baby to engage into your pelvis.
For a more gentle stretch, use a few yoga blocks to sit on while performing the squat.
This is also a pose that you can stay in to really open up your hips, working up to 3-5 minutes will really strengthen you for labour.
This familiar hip opener stretches your inner thighs and prepares your body for labour by strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. It also helps prevent calcification of your joints in your hips, knees, and ankles.
To increase difficulty, try bringing your feet in closer toward your body, your knees closer to the ground, and your head down toward your feet.
Seated Forward Bend
This stretch helps relieve tension in your lower back, opens your pelvis, and quiets the mind.
Pelvic rocks are excellent for easing backaches, as they push the baby away from your back, giving you some relief. They also strengthen your lower back and abdominals and alleviate side and sciatic pain. This hands and knees position also helps encourage baby down into the birth canal.
This is a great stretch! Especially after a day of mostly sitting, try to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Avoid dropping your abdomen too far toward the ground, as it can potentially create diastasis recti or splitting of the abdominal muscles.
Bridge pose is another great hip opener that also strengthens your abdominals, glutes, and hamstrings.
Be sure only to perform this stretch if lying on your back is still comfortable for you.
Engage your pelvic floor muscles on the inhale, release on your exhale, and this will strengthen your whole core.
Gentle twisting poses, like the seated twist, are excellent for releasing any tension along the spine.
Twists in pregnancy should be ‘open’ away from your midline, not towards your midline, then should not overextend and be gentle.
Leg lifts are always great for opening the hips and strengthening the legs.
Optional: Gently make circles in the air with your foot.
Supine Frog Stretch
If you guessed this is a great hip opener, you guessed right. The frog stretch opens your inner hips, stretches your inner thighs, and helps relieve tension in your lower back.
The runner’s lunge is excellent for stretching your legs, opening your chest, and lengthening your spine. It strengthens your body for labor and encourages baby to engage.
As your pregnancy progresses, you may need to make some modifications to make room for your growing belly. You can try separating your feet wider away from each other, using yoga blocks, or bringing your back leg down on the ground and your front knee more out to the side.
Backward Stretch (Child’s Pose)
This pose is great for alleviating back pain, as it opens up your hips and lower back. It also helps combat nausea and fatigue and can be a great quiet time for you to bond with your baby.
It’s time to start stretching now that you have ten safe poses for pregnancy. These stretches will not only set you up for a healthy pregnancy but will also help tone and relax the muscles that will be called upon when you give birth, setting you up for an easier labour.
Hot and cold therapy is also very effective if used in conjunction with these stretches, with a product such as the BodyICE Back and Hip pack it can drastically help improve comfort during pregnancy.
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