While there are many aspects of your pregnancy that you do not have control over, there are still just as many that you can manage with determination; mood, soreness, and the pain associated with childbirth can be managed with exercise, stretching and breathing techniques. For the purpose of today’s article, let’s dive into the important of some good stretching to get your body through the day-to-day, and to prepare you for childbirth.
Stretching While Pregnant
Stretching is an amazing activity that everyone should be doing every day, especially while pregnant. Stretching not only increases overall flexibility, it teaches slow breathing, controlled breathing, and releases tension throughout the body that could be causing pain from muscle tightening.
Stretching and controlled breathing go hand-in-hand, and by teaching your body to relax with controlled breathing you will be preparing yourself for labor pains. When stretching, be sure to breathe deeply and slowly, feeling your abdomen and lungs expanding fully, allowing for better gas exchange and more oxygen to your baby. In the end, you and your baby will fee refreshed and better than ever.
Useful Pregnancy Stretches
The most common pregnancy stretch, according to Mayo Clinic, is the lower back stretch. This can be incredibly beneficial, helping you feel your best and increasing oxygen flow to your baby. Because pregnancy places a great deal of pressure on your lower back, and in fact changes your posture for a better part of 9 months, lower back pain is quite common, which can lead to other pregnancy aches and pains.
The lower back stretch, also known as the Cat Stretch in yoga, involves arching your back while on hands and knees on a soft surface. Inhale as you round your back, holding the position for 5 to 10 seconds, an exhaling deeply as you release the position. This will take pressure off of your lower back and help to relax those overused muscles of the spine. (cat stretch photo)
Another area of the body pregnancy greatly affects are the hips. With the baby resting on your pelvis and lower abdomen, the hips deal with a lot more pressure than they normally would. Hip stretches are wonderful for releasing some of that pressure, decreasing pain, and preparing those hips for childbirth.
While it is often overlooked, the neck holds a great deal of tension during pregnancy, and releasing that pressure could decrease any headaches you’ve been having. The most basic way to stretch your neck is with neck rolls, tilting your head from side to side while maintaining focus on your breathing.
Remember, as you began to breathe deeper and more controlled while stretching your muscles, you are also helping to increase circulation, all of which are wonderful things for both yourself and your baby.
What stretches work for you? What have you found to be most effective at releasing lower back pressure and tension? Let us know here in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. Join the conversation!