Last Friday afternoon I practiced some of my labor “exercises” for the first time this pregnancy. Relaxation exercises, to be specific. The kind in which I lie on the couch and see how close I can get to falling asleep without actually being asleep, visualize my body opening like a flower, and “breathe the baby down.” Sure, it only lasted 20 minutes or so, but I must say I’m feeling pretty confident that I remember all the right moves from the previous pregnancies. At least, I felt so relaxed that I had a hard time shaking that relaxed feeling right up until I lined up for the 5-miler on Saturday morning.
(This is what I see when I visualizing my body opening like a flower . . . .)
I fully endorse practicing all the relaxation techniques in the book in preparation for labor. Fully endorse. But I also know that sometimes your body doesn’t want to take things lying down. Sometimes your body wants to be up and active as it pushes that baby down and out. And so I think it is good to prepare for that possibility as well. The more tools you have in your box the better. The more prepared, the less scared. Right?
So let me suggest a few other exercises to practice in preparation for birthing a baby:
Kegels. I am not in love with Kegels. I can think of a million things I’d rather do than contract my pelvic floor 8 times in a row, and let’s not even talk about holding it for 10 seconds. And yet. It is a good thing to do anyway. It improves circulation to the area, may help your body prepare to push that baby out more quickly, and helps to heal the area after birth. So, do your kegels. Contract your pelvic floor like you would if you were trying to stop your pee. Hold it for 10 seconds, or contract and release several times in a row. Do it many times a day. Whenever you think about it. Whenever you’re bored. And get your abs and glutes into the act as well. Contract them while you contract your pelvic floor. Keep them all nice and strong and working together.
Squats. And when I say squats, I don’t mean just the half-way-down-like-your-sitting-in-a-chair kind of squat. I mean all the way down, bum almost to the ground kind of squat. This is the kind where you really have to open your hips, which is something you’re going to want to do when you are passing a human being through them. Stand with your feet hip-width apart (maybe a little more) and toes pointed out. Relax your shoulders, keep your chest up, and lower your tailbone to the floor. Keep your weight mostly toward your heels. Once you get all the way down, use your legs to push yourself back up. If you need to, use a chair to help you keep your balance. Repeat 8-10 times.
Tailor Pose. I like this one. It’s another hip-opener and it’s also called butterfly, I believe. Sit with your back straight up againts a wall, with the soles of your feet together and your knees as close to the ground as you can get them. Relax your hips, let them open, and gently push down on your knees to encourage your hips to open even more. Breathe, relax, and hold the pose for as long as you can/want.
Anybody else have some recommendations for exercises/poses to practice in preparation for labor? Please share in the comments.
(Also, I apologize for the lack of photos of the exercises. My photographer is away and I don’t want to wait for him to get home. If you really want me to, I’ll add some later this week.)