What are side-lying lifts and how do they prepare me for labor?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
  1. Lie on your left side with your head resting on your left arm. Bend both legs about 90 degrees at the hip and knee, so that your knees are straight out in front of your hips. You can tuck a pillow between your knees and under your abdomen if you need to. With your right hand resting on your right thigh, lift your right leg up, still bent, slightly higher than your shoulder and extend it straight down, so it is in line with your body, not out in front of you. Repeat 20 times. Do the exercise again, only this time, grab the back of your thigh with your right hand, and use the strength of your arm to help lift your leg. Repeat 20 times. Breathe normally throughout the exercise.
  2. Continue lying on your left side with your legs and hips now bent at a 45-degree angle. Slowly place your right hand behind your head and simultaneously lift your right leg and elbow up several inches, so you are doing a side crunch. Focus on gently pulling your lower abdomen in. Do 20 times. Continue regular breathing. Repeat the exercises lying on your right side.

This exercise prepares you for the side-lying labor and delivery position, which will usually be on your left side. If you have an epidural, you may need to use your arm to help support your lifted leg, or the nurses will provide a bar that attaches to the bed for you to use for support in this position, which is why we've included the second exercise in part 1.
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