What exercises help prepare me for labor and delivery?

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

Regular exercise during pregnancy helps to maintain cardiovascular health, core body tone and maintain mom's strength. Regular exercise can help mom to have an easier labor, birth and recovery. Walking is a great exercise for mom during pregnancy especially if she had not been very active prior to pregnancy. It is low impact and great for her heart. Swimming is also not weight bearing and a great exercise if mom has access to a pool.

Specific spot exercises can be done to help prepare specific muscles used in the labor and birth. Most of these exercises are demonstrated in childbirth classes, pregnancy centering groups and mentioned in most childbirth books like YOU HAVING A BABY.

I recommend my patients learn pelvic rocking, the low back stretch, the hip stretch, squats, kegels and abdominal tightening exercises.

Kathy Snider
Neonatal Nursing

There are many research studies that have shown that regular exercise during pregnancy can provide many benefits to the mother. Some of those include increasing the mother’s energy levels, improving all-over body circulation and helping to return your body to a pre-pregnant state after you have delivered and recovered. One of the greatest benefits of exercising while you are pregnant is that it can help in shortening labor, and making it easier in some respects. Exercise is always important for a healthy lifestyle, pregnant or not, however, if you’ve never exercised before, pregnancy is a good time to start, but you should always check with your care provider to be sure the type of exercise program you want to start is appropriate for you and your baby. It is important to realize that not all exercises are as helpful as others. These are some exercises that can give you the most benefit when pregnant and especially those which might help labor be easier:

Walking is an excellent choice of exercise for pregnant women. In fact, studies have shown that it is the best overall exercise for pregnant mothers everywhere, because walking is low impact, meaning it is easy on your body, and is great for your heart and circulation. While pregnant, it is important that you not get your heart rate up to high, or it can put your baby at risk. Walking is a way to improve your overall health with little risk.

 Another great exercise, for many of the same benefits noted with walking, is swimming! Swimming is considered a “zero gravity” exercise, which again, means that there is not impact. It is a wonderful way to give pregnant mothers some relief from feeling the increased weight of pregnancy. It also can give you with optimal cardiovascular benefits. You can get a great workout in the pool without putting baby at risk. Many women report feeling invigorated after participating in water yoga for expectant mothers, as it cools you down, makes you feel “lighter” and provides a way to burn a few calories while getting your heart rate up; all with little to no risk to you or your baby!

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Many women find themselves trying several positions during labor and during the pushing phase. The following exercises will help you prepare your body for that:
  1. Supported Squats: Prepares for squatting or hanging rope positions for the end stage of labor or for delivery.
  2. Delivery Circle: Prepares for labor and birthing on your back.
  3. Rocking Table: Prepares you for a variety of kneeling positions.
  4. Side-Lying Lifts: Prepares you for the side-lying labor and delivery position, which will usually be on your left side.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.