Naturally Move More During Pregnancy
I am not going to talk about “exercise” when “movement” is a more accurate term. Exercise seems to introduce stress when there doesn’t need to be any. For our purposes, an increase in movement is what will be beneficial to you. Increased movement isn’t just beneficial during pregnancy, so you are going to focus on how you can increase movement with the plan for it to become a habit ~ one that will continue AFTER the birth of your precious little one(s).
We all know that increased movement leads to an increase in strength and stamina. Who needs more of these two things more than a woman preparing to give birth? When a woman is giving birth she is using many different muscle groups and expending a lot of energy. Women who move more during pregnancy handle the birth process better than those who make no change in their amount of movement at all.
Movement During Pregnancy
Did you know that many of the “normal” discomforts of pregnancy are reduced or completely eliminated with movement? During pregnancy the joints — especially the joints of the pelvis and spine — experience significant changes. The body produces special hormones, like relaxin, that are designed to loosen up the joints, cartilage and ligaments in preparation for giving birth. It is normal to feel the hips and spine “popping” as they adjust. This is why regular chiropractic adjustments may be helpful to the body during pregnancy. Many believe that chiropractic visits should coincide with the regular prenatal visits and that regular massage therapy is also beneficial.
Take some time to study the hormones involved in pregnancy and birth. Write what you learn in a journal.
Increased movement will also help you become more aware of your body and aid you during the birth process. Our society has forgotten how to “speak” with the body. The body is still speaking but you may not be listening or you may not understand what your body is trying to tell you. Listening and paying attention to the needs of your body are things that only you can do. LOTS of pregnant women have increased their movement during pregnancy and have found it to be very helpful. There are a few things to remember though.
HEALTH AND WELLNESS DISCLAIMER: Women who are experiencing complications during pregnancy, have any back, neck or knee injuries, or who experience any discomfort while moving should use caution and check with their care provider before increasing their level of movement. Avoid lying on your back, avoid excessive pressure on the pelvic floor muscle (such as when jogging or bouncing), avoid putting too much stress on your body (keep your pulse and core temperature in a normal range), and check with your care provider if you have any questions or concerns. Be careful of balance, avoid risk of abdominal trauma, avoid becoming dehydrated and/or exhausted, and avoid anything that hurts.
Most activities that you have already been doing regularly can be continued safely during pregnancy. Movement should be part of every day so that you will have the strength and stamina it takes to give birth. This can be done in a variety of ways. You may find the need to modify the intensity in order to move according to your prenatal needs.
Let’s talk about “excuses” because we all have them. You may live in an area where the weather might keep you from taking a walk or you may live in a neighborhood that’s not safe. You may experience “time issues” and other commitments that seem to leave you with no time for anything else. In these instances, it’s important to think outside the box….
How about carrying the basket of laundry upstairs (if you have stairs in your home)? This gives you an opportunity to add some weight bearing movement to your day. You could choose to make your housework less efficient? We have learned how to get things done with as little movement as possible. We scrape all the dishes into a single dish, stack them all together and take the entire stack to the kitchen at once. How about working as children do? Watch a child clear the table and it might drive you nuts until you realize they are working in a way that increases their daily movement; taking one or two items at a time.
How beneficial might it be for you to squat and recover multiple times when picking things up off the floor rather than squatting and recovering once or twice after gathering as many items as possible? Yes, the latter is more efficient but is it helping you increase movement? There are LOTS of ways to increase daily movement when you take the time to really analyze how you do things and make them a little less efficient…..just an idea.
In general, pregnant women like to swim because they notice a reduction in the pressure on the legs as well as the pelvis and many have said that it feels as though they are not pregnant. The water pressure helps swollen feet and ankles feel better. Many find it easier to squat in the pool. If you have or live near a pool this is a great way to increase movement.
Walking is another excellent way of increasing movement. It’s a great way to get in your daily movement while also reducing stress, aiding digestion and naturally and rhythmically helping to align the spine. Walking opens the top — inlet — of the pelvis so the baby can “become engaged” when the time is right. It also helps to keep the pelvic floor muscles long and taut. It’s not necessary to make time for a long walk each day. Taking a few 10-minute walks daily is a good beginning. If the weather is bad or you live in a “bad” neighborhood, walk through your home a few times. Even better if you have stairs in your home, you can add them to your routine.
Take a moment to list in a journal some ways you can naturally move more.
It’s also very important to reduce as much stress as possible and take time to relax and be still. You and your baby will love the quiet moments that come through relaxation. There are lots of different relaxation techniques that you might choose to learn or perhaps you already know what helps you relax the most. Also remember that there are different types of relaxation. Do you need physical, emotional, spiritual or mental relaxation?
What types of relaxation techniques do you prefer? Take a moment to write them down in your journal and make sure your sweetheart knows which are your favorites.
Many like to talk about how to encourage the baby into a “positive” position. A positive position is usually defined as “having the baby in an anterior or spine facing position.” The idea being that “positive” positions help the baby enter the pelvis “correctly” which may shorten the length of the birthing process and minimize back pain. You may have been told:
“If you have a “comfy” sofa or chair at home, pregnancy is the time to avoid it. These items encourage your body into a slouching position which may also encourage the baby into a posterior or tummy facing position and increase the likelihood of “back labor” which increases back pain during pregnancy and the birthing process. A better choice is to sit on a birth ball or use the tailor sit position on the floor. If you’d like to continue to sit in that “comfy” sofa or chair then do so with some modifications. Place pillows behind your back that help to get you into an upright position and encourage a more straight spine.”
What’s really going on here? Does this really matter?
Back labor is a real thing. I experienced it with my first 2 children. I survived as have millions of other women. Basically what happens is that the baby’s hard head is coming down your spine instead of their cute squishy face. This intensifies as the contractions intensify and for some women becomes “unbearable”……?
Here’s the thing….as your contractions intensify, your body produces more of the wonderful pain relieving hormones. Also, babies have been known to turn over the course of the birthing process from anterior (face to spine) to posterior (head to spine) and back again. This also means that just because your baby is facing your spine when the birthing process begins does not mean your baby will stay in that position.
The entire concept of “positive” positioning is more about the location, care provider and their rules, policies and regulations than your comfort although your comfort is how it will always be stated. This is because persistent posterior babies usually mean a “longer than normal” birthing process. Even that’s subjective. What does “longer than normal” mean anyway? Who’s timetable does “longer than normal” impact? If you’ve chosen someone who truly understands birth, he/she already knows that birth can sometimes take days because the uterus will be shifting the baby into position. They will also know some techniques for helping turn the baby during the birthing process. We’ll talk more about this in a later chapter.
Please don’t make yourself or others crazy trying to make sure your baby stays in a “positive” position. The womb offers a lot of space for your growing baby and babies move however they want and into all sorts of positions that we “grown ups” don’t believe are very “positive.” Often times pregnant women become concerned about their baby’s position because they have chosen a “care provider” who believes that the baby must be in the “right” position in order for a normal, vaginal birth to occur. OR if the baby isn’t in the “right” position, the type of birth being planned “can’t” happen where it is being planned to happen, such as at home or in a birth center or vaginally. Believing in the body and the baby and self will go a long way in this situation.
Some babies come breech (feet, foot, or bottom first) because that is the best position for that particular baby. Other babies will arrive head first but facing up (posterior). Whatever position your baby chooses may be altered by where you sit, how you stand, etc. but some of the positions that babies choose will not be altered regardless of what you do, or have done (like chiropractic visits, acupressure, etc). What you need to now is that one of the jobs of uterine contractions is to position the baby for birth.
Often times what is best is for the pregnant woman to take a deep breath and consider that perhaps the baby is in the perfect position or that the positional change will occur on its own; even during the birthing process. Stressing yourself over something that is not fully in your control is a waste of energy.
Instead place your focus on enjoying this glorious moment in your personal history. Enjoy every movement and every moment you have with this little one in his private womb. Spend time playing and enjoying life. What do you want to do with your free time? Ask your body what it needs right now and give yourself permission to do it.
Here are some questions for you to discover the answers to:
- What homeopathic remedy could you try at 36+ weeks to turn a breech baby?
- What can a chiropractor do to help turn a breech baby?
- According the www.SpinningBabies.com, what can you do to “ensure” optimal fetal positioning?
- What if the baby turns back to breech? Is this cause for panic? Is there a true need to plan cesarean surgery?
- How does your birth team feel about vaginal breech birth?
(If you enjoyed this article, purchase my book — Embracing Birth: wholistic childbirth education (a home study course) — from Amazon)