Preparing for Birth: Mental and Physical Exercises

Exercises can help you prepare for birth

Birth is coming…are you ready?

I still have 15 weeks, give or take.  But even now I’m starting to think about how I’m going to prepare for birth.  There are lots of things that you can do — especially if you’re planning to go naturally — to get yourself ready for the big day.  Are you ready?  It’s time to start!

Mental Exercises

These really are important, because giving birth is a huge mental stretch as well as physical.  Birth takes over your body like nothing else.  It’s going to happen whether you’re ready or not…but it’ll be a lot harder on you if you’re not.  Try some of these exercises to help you!

Opening — Sit and relax.  Visualize your body “opening” for your baby.  Try to imagine waves of cramping and think about your cervix opening like a flower blooming.  Think about how your baby will move down to help this process.  This is good to do during labor, too.

Comfort — Think about what comforts you most.  How do you view comfort during labor?  What positions seem natural to you?  Do you want music?  Try imagining the birth situation, serenely.  Write down all the things you think might comfort you in labor.  This list will be for your support people to pull from during the moment, when you may not be able to explain to them what you want.

Bonding — Think about your baby, and how s/he is coming to meet you soon.  Think about what s/he might look like, his/her temperament, and so on.  Watch your baby move and just think about special this time is!

Previous births — If you’ve had previous births, especially if they didn’t go the way you’d hoped, go through them in your head.  Write them down.  Note exactly what you didn’t like and why (especially if it is something that was or might be within your control).  Write down what you wish had happened, and how that knowledge can help you this time.  This is really, really important if you’re unhappy with your previous experience(s).  I will definitely be doing it!

Deep Breathing — This is really both mental and physical.  It’s sort of like meditation.  Sit calmly in a comfortable position and practice breathing deeply.  You should feel your stomach rise and fall, not your chest.  Visualize your body relaxing, muscle by muscle.  Make sure there is no tension at all.  You can even tense and relax your muscles just to feel the difference.

Physical Exercises

Squatting — Practice squatting.  It will help tone your pushing muscles.  I’ve actually found it to be quite relaxing on my back and upper body, too!

“Cat” stretch — On your hands and knees, stretch your legs up, one at a time.  Being on your hands and knees is good for the baby, too; it helps the baby get into position (it’s a good pushing position too).

Walking — Even just getting up and moving strengthens you overall, giving you more endurance.  Running may be okay too, if you’re used to it and you take it easy.

Swimming — If you can.  It takes away the extra weight of your body, yet it is excellent for physical endurance!  I would swim a lot if I could.  It is often recommended for pregnant women.

At this time, you don’t want to work your abs at all — or what’s left of them!  I frequently feel like someone is stabbing in the stomach whenever I forget and use them.  Don’t do exercises on your back on your stomach, either — assuming you actually could.  This can be dangerous after the first trimester.

How are you preparing for birth?

Top image by spaceodissey

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