11 Effective Pregnancy Exercises for Normal Delivery

PREGNANCY EXERCISES

Physical exercises during pregnancy, contrary to the myths and beliefs of being harmful, are in fact helpful for the mother’s health and increase the probability of a normal delivery. Performed in the right form and intensity, exercising during pregnancy is actually advisable.

Instructions To Follow Before Doing Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise is essential and very helpful during pregnancy but a few vital instructions should be followed that can benefit both the mother and baby.

  • Loose and Comfortable Clothing: This ensures circulation is not obstructed.
  • Moderate Temperature: A room which is too hot and two cold can affect your body temperature, and harm the baby.
  • Drink Plenty of Water: This ensures that you stay hydrated.
  • Wear Comfortable Footwear: This provides stability.
  • Stretch: Basic initial stretching helps prevent aches and sprains.
  • Don’t Over-Exert: Don’t exercise if you are too tired.
  • Avoid Standing Still For Long Periods: This may lead to pooling of blood and resultant swelling in the lower limbs.

Best 10 Exercises to do during Pregnancy for Normal Delivery

Performing exercises based on the phases of pregnancy can help the mother prepare well for an easy and normal delivery without causing any harm to the mother and the child.

1st Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

1st trimester (initial 3 months) is the most vulnerable period and mothers are advised to avoid any tiring activity, which includes lifting heavy weights, extreme cardio or high intensity workouts. Only gentle exercises may be permissible but only after consulting your doctor.

Doing a warm up helps prepare your body for a workout by making the muscles flexible and reducing stiffness.

1. Warm Up

  • Head tilt, both sides – A set of ten repetitions
  • Head nodding, (both up & down) – A set of ten repetitions
  • Head rotations (both directions) – 1 set of five repetitions
  • Arm swing rotations (clock and anti-clock) – A set of ten repetitions
  • Shoulder rotation movements (clock and anti-clock) – A set of ten repetitions

2. Wall Slide

To start, lean back your head, buttocks pressing a wall, relax your shoulders, and widen your feet apart.

Steps:

  • Stand with your back against the wall. Bring your feet in the front, away from the wall.
  • Now slowly drop your waist, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, as if you are sitting on an invisible chair.
  • Raise your hands above the head and rest them against the wall. Now slowly pull them down on either side of your head, like you would during a shoulder-press. Repeat for 10 counts.

This exercise is helpful in stabilising your spine and lower abdomen when you experience a back ache.

3. Clam Shell

Start by lying on the floor by your side with flexed knees and an arm below your head and the other supporting your body by touching the ground. Keep your heels one on top of another.

Steps:

  • Press your heels together and elevate your leg to the maximum possible height.
  • Pause for a second and then return to the starting position. Repeat for five counts
  • Repeat on the other side.

This exercise helps tone the muscles, abs, thighs, buttocks and pelvic floor. As your tummy grows through pregnancy, it is advised to do this exercise with the back against the wall.

4. Hip Raises / Bridge

Lying flat on the floor with bent knees, place your palms under your hips.

HIP RAISES

Steps:

  • Gradually elevate your hips to bring the torso in line with the shoulders.
  • Hold a second and lower down to the initial position.

This exercise will support the lower back to accommodate a growing belly. It also strengthens the buttocks and helps during labour.

Walking is necessary during pregnancy but avoid brisk walking. It helps the mother to be more flexible and helps to avoid fat deposit in the body. Walking at least 30 minutes twice a day is adequate enough. During the first trimester, it is common to have some nausea. So keeping a light workout routine is highly advised. In the second trimester, the mother feels better, and this is a perfect phase for exercises that would help in an easy delivery.

2nd Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

Second trimester (13-27 weeks) or the honeymoon phase is relatively easier because symptoms of vomiting sensation usually resolve by this period. Abdominal cramps are common and movements of the baby are felt easily, as uterine contractions become frequent. Workouts in this phase are usually safe but better done in consultation with your doctor.

1. Downward Dog

Take a cats posture by tucking the toes and spreading your fingers wide, press the floor with your fingertips.

Steps:

Bend forward and rest on your feet and palm with your fingers pressing firmly into the floor and forming an “A”.

  • Bend the right knee and straighten it feeling the stretch.
  • Bend the left knee and straighten it.
  • Repeat as many times as you can comfortably.
  • This exercise is not recommended in late pregnancy.

Pelvic Tilt

2. Pelvic Tilt (Or) Angry Cat

Again get in a cats posture, with flat palms and pointed toes against the floor.

Steps:

  • While resting on all fours, bend your head back
  • Arch your back so that your spine is curved.
  • Hold the posture and return to the initial position gently
  • Relax and then repeat.

This exercise strengthens the pelvis, soothes back pain during pregnancy, helps in labour and works towards easing the delivery process.

3. Lying Cobbler Pose

Lying flat on a floor close to the wall, with legs stretched, rest your feet on the wall.

Steps:

  • Stretch your legs in front of you as you sit on the floor. Use a blanket to sit on if you are uncomfortable
  • Join the soles of both feet, hold your ankles and pull them close to your pelvis
  • Relax, but refrain from pushing down your knees to the floor
  • Exhale as you bend forward as you can comfortably
  • Hold for as long as comfortable, inhale and sit up slowly

3rd Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

In the third trimester, heavy workouts must be avoided as heavy and strenuous activity like lifting heavy weights can cause complications like leakage of the amniotic fluid, for instance.

1. Opening Hips

Begin by standing straight with feet at shoulder width distance.

Steps:

  • Flexing your knees perform a simple squat.
  • Relax your pelvic region.
  • Breathe deep at least five times while you squat.
  • Gradually get back to starting position.

2. Pelvic Stretches

Exercising the pelvic floor muscles is essential when you are preparing from labour. Kegel exercises for normal delivery focus on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. To isolate and exercise these muscles, try stopping the flow of urine without using your abdominal muscles, thighs or buttocks. For slow Kegel exercises, start by sitting with a straight back comfortably on the workout ball.

Exercises In Third Trimester

Steps:

Slow Kegel exercises

  • Hold the contracted muscles for 3-10 seconds for 10 sets.

Fast Kegel exercises

  • Contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles 25-30 times before relaxing for 5 seconds, and perform four sets of exercises

3. Yoga

Yoga during pregnancy for normal delivery is highly recommended for expecting mothers and there are plenty of forms and aasanas that can help increase the flexibility and endurance in an expecting mother. Some aasanas that can be done include:

Yastikasana (Stick pose):

  • Lie down with your arms stretched above your head and legs straight
  • Keep the arms and legs as close to each other as possible
  • Hold for as long as it is comfortable

Vakrasna (Twisted pose):

  • Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you
  • Bend you left knee, placing the left foot near the right knee
  • Inhale and raise arms to shoulder height
  • Exhale and twist as much as you can comfortably and grasp your right knee with the right hand and hold for a while
  • Reverse

Konasana (Angle pose)

  • Sit comfortably on the floor
  • Press the soles of your feet together and draw them towards your body slowly
  • Lean forward as much as you can comfortably
  • Hold for five breaths

4. Squat

Squats are important as they help in the contraction and loosening of the pelvic muscle and help reduce delivery pain. Taking position with the support of a gym ball or holder, will give a good pressure to the pelvic area and thighs.

SQUATS

Steps

  • Breathe and bend down to acquire a sitting position.
  • Waiting for a second, return to your starting position.
  • Repeat the squat, now keeping your elbows placed inside your thighs and gently try to open your hips by pushing them back.
  • Slowly return to the standing position with feet well supported.

Benefits of Exercise for a Pregnant Woman

Exercising in pregnancy offers a range of benefits for the mother and ensures higher chances of normal safe delivery. It also provides the following benefits,

  • Prevents weight gain
  • Prepares a mother’s body for a normal delivery
  • Reduces labour pain
  • Improves circulation and keeps the heart rate stable
  • Improves your stamina and makes you more flexible
  • Helps you recover quickly post delivery
  • Reduces the chances of high blood pressure and pregnancy induced diabetes

When to Stop Exercise in Pregnancy?

Generally, about half an hour of exercise is adequate and recommended. An expectant mother must stop when the following is observed:

  • Fatigue
  • Pre existing blood pressure problems, asthmatic conditions, cardiac disorder, diabetes etc.
  • Vaginal bleeding
  • History of a preterm delivery or wasted delivery
  • Experience augmented contractions shortly after exercising.

A proper routine of exercise for a pregnant lady can be very helpful in making normal delivery more likely, additionally reducing labour time and its pain. To ensure safe practices one should ask the doctor about exercising in detail and perform them under supervision.

Also Read: Exercises You Should Avoid When Pregnant