What type of exercises can you do to ease childbirth?

By: - 1st February 2019
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It’s fair to say that most expectant mothers become anxious about their upcoming delivery. This could be due to a lack of experience for first-time mothers or a bad experience in a previous delivery.

In the past, expectant mothers continued doing hard household work during their pregnancy. They used tools like brooms, besoms, and whisks. Using these tools was a work out in itself resulting in easier delivery. However, these kinds of exercises are no longer a part of daily life for most women.

One reason is the advancement of technology, which has come up with new tools and equipment to make life easier. We now use a blender to do tasks that were once done using labour intensive tools such as a mortar, kurrakkan stone, and grinding stone. The reason is that nowadays more women pursue careers. Our busy lifestyles demand easier and faster ways of doing things. In the past, daily household work helped in strengthening the muscles relevant to childbirth, easing the process. However, expectant mothers rarely get this opportunity these days.

For this reason, it is important to discuss what types of exercises expectant mothers can perform to ease childbirth.

Breathing Exercises

During childbirth, a woman has to inhale and exhale well and also hold longer deeper breaths, for better oxygen transportation. In advanced countries, breathing exercises are introduced as a non-medical technique to reduce labour pain. Engaging in breathing exercises during your pregnancy can really ease your childbirth. Therefore, start on it from the early days of your pregnancy. It’s undoubtedly an exercise that you can do freely without any difficulty. One and half hours before or after your meals, go to a clean and calm place, take a deep breath filling up your lungs, and hold it for as long as you can while exhaling bit by bit. Do 3 or 4 of these at a time.

Relaxation Exercise

This is also a very important exercise for women preparing for childbirth, as it is useful to avoid complications that can arise during delivery as a result of involuntarily stiffening of your body and tightening your muscles. These are relatively easy exercises to learn and do. What you are required to do is to breathe well, walk, and tighten and release your vaginal muscles.

Walking

Walking is one of the easiest exercises to do during your pregnancy which helps your blood circulation and strengthens your respiratory system and muscles. It also helps with the correct positioning of the baby.

Balancing ball exercises

Although it has yet to gain popularity in Sri Lanka, an exercise ball is an affordable and effective workout tool for expectant mothers. What is required to do is to sit balanced on the ball with your legs apart, your spine straight and to move the ball to left, right, front, and back. This strengthens your muscles and also gives you the benefits of a range of other exercises that ease delivery.

Kegel Exercises

This exercise can help in strengthening your vaginal muscles. In a normal delivery, the mother needs to strain and push the baby out, hence it is very important to strengthen the vaginal muscles as well as urinary muscles.

Lie down facing up, keep one leg over the other, lift your waist tightening the muscles of your thighs, buttocks, and vagina, and hold for 5 or 6 seconds before loosening them. Wait for a few seconds and repeat. Doing this exercise several times a day can make your delivery easier. Closer to the delivery, you will have to do this exercise while standing straight because doing it while lying down with your face up is not advisable.

Stretching Exercises

In a normal delivery, a mother needs to bend her legs and keep them apart, and for this, it is important to strengthen the muscles in your legs and thighs. A mother who has been doing these stretching exercises can face this situation without difficulty. Squatting is the most important stretching exercise to do.

When stretching your thighs, sit on the floor with your legs to your front, keep the ankle of your right leg across your left knee, and stretch the outer muscles while stretching your right thigh to the left with your left hand. Do this 10 times and change to the other side.

When stretching your legs, keep your head on a pillow or a folded towel and lie down on your left. Now keep your right leg straight, right hand on the floor, and bend your left knee. Stretch and lift up the right leg and then lower it down again. Do this about 5 times and turn to your other side.

An article prepared in consultation with Chief. Physiotherapist, Lady Ridgeway Children’s Hospital Dr. Jaliya Uduwella

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