Just as athletes train for a marathon, moms-to-be also need to prepare for the arduous journey of giving birth. A true test of stamina, willpower, and strength, labor is arguably the hardest marathon of all. In conjunction with your regular pregnancy fitness routine, these 5 exercises will help train your body effectively for labor. While these exercises are generally safe for most pregnant women, make sure to clear them with your doctor - remember, safety first!
1. Kegel Exercises
What it’s good for: This will help tone the pelvic floor muscles with the second stage of labor (pushing and delivery of baby) as well as for strengthening muscles after labor.
How to do it: Push your belly button towards your spine. This helps stabilize your lower back. It may seem like you’re simply sucking your stomach in, but you should be able to breathe comfortably while doing this. Keeping this posture, contract your Kegel muscles (the muscles at the base of the pelvis), as if to pull the vaginal walls up towards your belly button. Hold the contraction for a count of 10, then release. Relax for 5 seconds and start again. Start with five repetitions, and work your way up to 30 repetitions per day. Break the exercises up into sets of 10, and do one set in the morning, another in the evening, and the third while you’re doing something routine, like driving or checking your e-mail. Do this everyday.
If you’re doing the contractions correctly, you’d be able to stop mid-stream during urination without contracting your abs, your glutes, or thigh muscles. Practice doing it once or twice while urinating to make sure you’re contracting the correct muscles, but don’t make it a habit. Doing your Kegels during urination is unadvisable, as it may keep you from fully voiding and increase the likelihood of a UTI.
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