Can Exercise Make Labor Easier?

pregnant woman walking outdoors


Pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be very hard on your body, which is why you need to prepare ahead of time. Even if you are caring for older children, holding down a job, and running a household, you can fit in some simple exercises that will help reduce pain during labor and may actually make delivering your baby safer.

How Exercise Can Help With Labor and Delivery

There are several reasons exercising before you have your baby can help with labor and delivery. Keeping your body in shape can help you:

  • Eliminate or reduce back pain
  • Lengthen pelvic muscles
  • Position yourself comfortably during labor
  • Prevent urinary incontinence
  • Push during delivery
  • Relax
  • Soften pelvic tissue

What Exercises Make Labor Easier?

Do you want to decrease labor pain on that special but usually painful day? If so, there are some exercises that can help prepare your body for when the time comes. Let’s take a look…

Butterfly Stretch

The butterfly stretch helps keep your pelvic joints flexible, which may aid in delivery. It also strengthens your back, thighs, and pelvis. To do this exercise, sit on the floor with the bottoms of your feet together and your knees dropped comfortably. Press both knees gently with your elbows, feeling a stretch along your inner thighs.

If you have difficulty keeping your back straight, sit against a wall and don’t bounce your knees as you press. Hold the position for 10 to 15 seconds and repeat five to ten times.

Child’s Pose

This is one yoga pose that is perfect for preparing to give birth as it lengthens your pelvic floor and eases discomfort. To do child’s pose, kneel and sit on your heels. Lean forward slowly, walking your arms out in front of you. Breathe deeply and hold the position for a count of five.

As your belly gets bigger, you may need to spread your knees farther apart. If you feel any discomfort sitting on your heels, raise your bottom off your heels a little.

Deep Squats

Another exercise that lengthens the pelvic floor is deep squats. This exercise can also help stretch the perineum. To do it, stand with your legs shoulder width apart and about six inches out from the wall, but with your back against a wall. Then slide down the wall to a squatting position.

Keep your back against the wall and stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the position for five to ten seconds then slowly slide back up. Start with five squats and increase up to ten.

Pelvic Tilt

Pelvic tilts help strengthen your abdominal muscles and relieve backache. It can also improve flexibility in your back, which may help during labor. To do a pelvic tilt, get on your hands and knees with your head aligned with your back, pull your stomach in, and arch your back upward. Hold the position for several seconds and then relax your stomach.

Keep your back flat, and do not allow your stomach to sag. Repeat three to five times, working your way up to 10.

Stretching Cat

The stretching cat is an excellent exercise during pregnancy because it is designed to reduce lower back pain. To do stretching cat, on your hands and knees, exhale as you round your back and tuck your chin to your chest. Inhale and arch back downward, raising your head to the sky. The exercise mimics the look of a cat stretching after a long nap.

Exercise can help make labor and delivery easier. Working out regularly can also help you lose weight and reduce the chances of shoulder dystocia at birth. This is a condition where the baby’s anterior shoulder gets caught on your pubic bone and can lead to serious birth injury as well as complications for the mother.

The Takeaway

Not only can working out help you with labor and delivery, it will also help your overall health and make you feel great. You’ll be glad you spent time exercising once you realize how much it will help you bounce back after you give birth.

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About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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