Sunday, September 25, 2016

Exercises To Help Prepare For Natural Childbirth

I can't believe I'm entering my third trimester already! This pregnancy is flying by. Getting anxious to find out the gender too, it will be such an amazing surprise! (Any guesses??!!)

If you've been following me for awhile you know may know that I had a natural, unmedicated birth with Rio and I plan to do the same with my second baby. Aside from mental preparation (that's another post!) I've been physically preparing by going to prenatal yoga twice a week and walking everyday. I've started doing some additional daily exercises and stretches to help me prepare. Hope this helps some of you! 

Walking: I always feel so much better when I walk at least 30 minutes a day. It's so important during pregnancy to just keep moving in order to keep everything aligned and in balance. Daily cardio will help prepare you for the craziest workout of your life...labor!

Prenatal Yoga: I  have been going to prenatal yoga classes twice a week for the last couple months, and I stretch on my own at home daily. Yoga is a great way to prepare both physically and mentally for childbirth. I've had some really great teachers who do specific breathing exercises and stretches that help prepare you for what labor brings. I really utilized the breath techniques when I was in labor with Rio. I encourage you to try a few different classes and instructors to find the right fit for you! I've listed some of my favorite poses too just in case going to a class isn't available to you. If you're in the San Diego area, the classes at Cap Wellness Center and Soul of Yoga are my favorites.

Swimming: is a particularly good exercise during pregnancy because the water helps to support your extra weight. This can be a huge relief for body aches and sore muscles, especially in the third trimester. I like to put my feet and hands on the wall and do some side lunges and squats in the water too.

Cat Cow Pose/Pelvic TiltsThis pose helps with back pain. It can also help to shift the weight of the baby away from the spine, giving you some much needed relief. It's also a good way to safely tone your abdominal muscles. I  actually did pelvic tilts a lot during labor to try to get the baby into a safe position for delivery. This pose is also said to boost mood, increase energy, and can support breast milk production.

Exercise Ball SitsAfter 30 weeks, it's important to try to keep the pelvis aligned and baby in optimal position. Sitting on an exercise ball is supposed to help with this. Try to sit on the ball as much as you can instead of reclining in big couches or chairs. If you work on a computer, use a ball t instead of an office chair. Ball sitting doesn't sound like exercise, but it's actually a great way to help prepare your body for birth! 

Sitting Side Stretch and Side Angle Pose: These poses have really helped to relieve stiffness in my shoulders and back. Side stretches help to open the groins and hamstrings and strengthen the legs, knees and ankles. These postures are said to be therapeutic for constipation, infertility, and sciatica as well.   

Deep Squats/Frog Pose: Squats are great for building leg strength, which you need a lot of during labor and pushing.  Because squatting opens your pelvis and strengthens the muscles you need for delivery, this exercise is one I do everyday. Doing squats regularly is said to help lengthen the pelvic floor. Squats are said to be more beneficial in preparing for natural childbirth than kegels because they open the pelvic floor instead of tightening it. We don't want those muscles to contract during the birthing process, we want them to relax and be open!                                

Plank: Only do these if you don't have to strain. Planks strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.  
If you have any questions or want to talk about my birthing experience and how I prepared for Rio send me an email or message! As with any exercise or movement during pregnancy, never do anything that causes pain or major discomfort. Every woman's body is different and there are no "one size fits all" stretches or exercises. Be mindful and listen to your body. Also, I'm wearing a Bao Bei belly bra in turquoise in which really helps with belly support when working out!  


  1. Hi Carly!! Thanks a lot for your post, I found it really helpful, specially since I'm 7 months pregnant, too! I think our due date is very close, mine is December 8th...! :)

    I'd like to send you a private email if you don't mind, about the mental preparation for natural birth. This will be my first labor, and any tips from you would me more than welcome!!

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Monica! Would love to hear from you, yes our due dates are close, mine is December 13! One of my favorite books that I recommend is Journey into Motherhood. It's a compilation of short natural birth stories written by moms. Very motivating! I also recommend taking a class, either Hypnobirthing or Birthing from Within. During my first pregnancy, I actually took a Birthing from Within class with my husband and read the Hypnobirthing book and both were really helpful. If you want to chat more send me an email!