Preparing for labor with exercise

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Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
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Preparing for labor with exercise

So we all know we should be doing our exercises to help our bodies prepare for labor....squatting, tailor sitting, etc. Who actually does this? For those who have, did you notice it helped in your labor?

I was sooooooo out of shape for DS's birth and the worst part of my recovery was my sore muscles! So I am determined to not be that way again. I started yesterday back at the gym my husband goes to. awesome website with great workouts!!! The basis for the workouts is the squat.

So, I went. holy crap am I sore today! I didn't even use any weight whatsoever. Just a lot of squats and going through the movements of the exercises with a PVC pipe (to simulate a bar that the others use). Just going through the motions for not even 30 minutes was enough to let me know that my body is NOT ready for labor!

I didn't even try squatting last time for DS's birth in any way (during labor or pushing). So I am determined to get my legs and core in better condition to prepare. I hate that I'm starting so late, but with the horrible sickness I had for so long at the beginning, there was no way I could even get off the couch!

So, seriously, did any of you prepare for births with exercise and do you feel it made any difference? I figure it can't hurt right? There are a lot of movements in crossfit I can't and won't do (jump rope, box jumps, etc.) but the coaches/trainers can substitute any of those movements for me.

Last seen: 4 years 1 month ago
Joined: 12/10/05
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I have been active through all my pregnancies (walking a lot while pushing a double stroller, basic weight training, aerobics, etc). I'm not super fit or anything, but never stop while pregnant. I did make a point of tailor sitting, stretching, focusing on posture and baby's position.

I have had 4 easy labors (3 of them very fast) and have always bounced back after birth. I've never been sore or anything and am up and about right away and back into my normal routine.

So, while I can't compare, I do think it has helped. In doesn't take much time of inactivity for those muscles and core strength to really diminish.

ange84's picture
Last seen: 1 year 7 months ago
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I went to the gym until I was 36 weeks and only stopped because they closed down. I was put on restrictions of walking only after 12 weeks because of an unexplained bleed. Unfotunatly I can't say if it helped cwith labour or not because I ended up with a c-section for a breech baby, but I do count having a decent fitness level with recovery.

CaBlondie918's picture
Last seen: 5 years 7 months ago
Joined: 01/27/07
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Thinking back to my pregnancy with DD#1 I was going to school full-time so my exercise was really from walking up and down campus from classes and parking. Then when I was 39-41 weeks I did a lot of walking around to try and get labor started which was a no go. I don't remember my legs being sore after her birth, but I wasn't up and walking around in labor (I was induced and got an epi). This time I'm pretty bad at exercising :eekout: my midwives would not be too happy BUT I can say that we did go to Disneyland for 2 days (this past weekend) and I walked the whole time and only my quads were sore the next morning when I woke up after we got home, but that was gone by midday. When I'm at home I usually will sit on the birth ball and bounce, and I have no problem sitting on the floor and playing with DD and all that stuff so I'm thinking recovery wise for muscles I'll be fine; even if it's been a few years since high school when I played sports.... and I think being young helps bounce back quicker too. Smile

Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
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I worked out faithfully throughout my pregnancy ~ yoga (regular yoga that I modified as I had to) about 5 X's/week, weight training, cardio classes elliptical etc etc.

I will say that I don't know that it helped with my actual labor (it might have, but that is pretty hard to quantify)...but it absolutely 100% helped with my pregnancy. I felt great with very minimal pain or discomfort throughout my entire pregnancy. I also slept better, had a better attitude, and felt better about my body. I totally recommend it, it may help in labor, but it absolutely definitely helps in the long 40 weeks leading up to labor, and absolutely helps with your recovery (IMO).

I don't really think of squats or tailor sitting as exercise, but more of positioning strategies.

Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
Joined: 08/22/06
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I decided to go ahead and get back into a program b/c I was in Italy for 10 days earlier in the month and took a hike. It was about 2.5 hours and included lots of hills! I was sore for 3 days - mainly in my butt and thighs. So I was pretty happy with myself and wanted to continue being active since I felt so good during my trip.

Well....after squats yesterday....I know I have got to do more if I'm going to squat at all during labor/birth! I am truly amazed at what just a proper squat can do for my body! I walked for almost an hour today to help keep my sore muscles moving and hope I can do the same tomorrow.

since I've been more active with this pregnancy (mainly due to DS!) I've felt better after the first trimester horrid sickness passed, so I'm hoping that by continuing to do so, then perhaps I won't have the issues I had as badly as I did during my pregnancy with DS.

DunyaWolf's picture
Last seen: 3 years 9 months ago
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I feel really guilty about this, I'm pretty bad at working out regularly. That's pregnant or not. With DS, though I didn't realize it at the time I actually stayed pretty active because until I got laid off at 6-7 months, I was working which involved a lot of walking from the shuttle to the hospital, plus we took patients on walks every day too. And even after I wasn't working, I went to trails and walked. I also did a few exercises at home (from the book Your Pregnancy Week by Week), although I never got on a strict routine overall I did them fairly regularly.

This time, my only exercise has pretty much been chasing my toddler. I found out I was pregnant in May, and over the summer it was honestly too hot to do anything- no way I was going to walk in 90 degree heat and we don't have a/c so I never wanted to do anything at home either. As the weather has been cooler though I try to go for walks; however we live in a crappy neighborhood so that involves packing DS up and driving to a park or trails 15+ minutes away. I got a pilates for pregnancy book from the library and have been doing that some.

I can't do squats effectively. My right foot isn't flexible enough for me to do them; I was born with a clubbed foot and though you pretty much can't tell, squatting is one thing that affects :confused:

TiggersMommy's picture
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
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I was really bad about exercising. I was able to make it to several belly dance classes before I went into labor. It was a fun cardio and core workout plus it's supposed to help with positioning (DD was perfectly positioned BTW :p). I was in really good shape pre-pregnancy, I walked a lot while pregnant and I have naturally strong legs. So, I wasn't too bad off when it came down to it. Recovery has been pretty smooth and I can squeeze into my pre-pregnancy clothes already. I gained a total of 32 lbs and I've settled into a weight about 7 lbs from pre-pregnancy. I don't anticipate shedding much more as I was working out heavily before getting pregnant and I can't imagine I'll be doing that again anytime soon. I really wish I had spent a little time working out my arms! They were very sore for several days after birth from holding myself up in the tub.

emommyof2's picture
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I've been active my whole life, and with my last I was training for a marathon when I found out I was pregnant. An unforseen fall on the ice that winter slowed me up BIG TIME, and it showed in labor my muscles weren't where I would have liked them to be.

I have to admit I've been counting "Chasing after a 4yr old" as daily exercise for awhile now but since I found out we're expecting I've been getting back into a low impact yoga/belly dancing three times a week. I'm hoping that will be helpful, but won't know until D-Day!

krazykat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 8 months ago
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I really focused on flat-footed squatting, tailor sitting, kegels, and cardio. At 20 weeks pregnant I was still running 4 miles at a time, then I slowly tapered down to 2 miles, then 1 mile. Up until 38 weeks pregnant, I was doing an hour of cardio 5-6 times a week. I did elliptical, treadmill, and a LOT of stairmaster once I stopped running. And then....

I ended up laboring for 48 hours and transferring for a c/s.

One thing for sure is the kegels! I have not had any leaking, or trouble when I sneeze or cough. I REALLY think they kept things strong down there.

If I hadn't been hit with a sinus infection and bad cough right after I think my recovery would have gone a lot faster. Heck, less than 8 hours after the c/s and laboring for all that time, I was up and moving and going to the bathroom, showering and all that. With DD I was NOT out of bed that fast. I tried, but every time I went to stand up I almost passed out with her.

Once I am cleared at my 6 week PP appointment, I am going to start working out again. I'll have to let you know if that goes easier for me. From what I've been told, I will be surprised at how in shape I still am. I have also heard that if you put on weight during pregnancy, but HEALTHY weight since you are working out and eating right, that it is a lot easier to come off afterwards. We'll see!!

ETA: I do not think my body would have ever been strong enough to labor for 48 LONG hours if I hadn't been in reasonably good shape.

Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
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Ariel - that definitely sounds like the exercise probably helped you! that's amazing to be up and about after labor and a c/s!!!! Good for you! Yes, definitely on the flat footed squatting. I learned the importance of that in Bradley and now in the gym I'm at. I'm amazed at how sore my legs are but glad since I'm started now so I'll hopefully be better prepared!

jooniper's picture
Last seen: 4 years 8 months ago
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I tried really hard to do this for this pregnancy- mostly working on squats and on flexibility (I have the tightest hamstrings in the world, it makes certain laboring positions much more painful than they need to be). Unfortunately I had to stop about halway through the pregnancy because of contractions- I'm pretty sure if I did a squat right now, the baby would just pop right out;)

emansmom's picture
Last seen: 4 years 4 months ago
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I believe exercise during pregnancy helps with labor/delivery a ton!! I was running up until about 12 hours before my daughter was born. I had obviously decreased my mileage and pace from pre-pregnancy but I was still running 3 miles 3-4 times a week until the last week. I also did a awesome pregnancy workout dvd that had lots of squatting and such. It is I highly recommend it! With my first pregnancy I was not workout out like I was the second time around. My second labor and birth was 100 times better and easier than my first which I know exercise played a role in.