Although there is no “one” exercise that will ensure you bring on labour (especially during those desperate days of being overdue), you can help to prepare your body for the big event and encourage the labouring process through movement.
Here are a few exercises that can help with labour:
Squatting – Probably one of the most functional exercises you can do, squatting simulates something we do on a daily basis; getting in and out of a chair, a car, picking something up off the ground. Squatting (properly) not only helps you go through your days without injury but also prepares your pelvis and pelvic floor to expand and strengthen – something we can all agree will help with giving birth.
Pelvic rocking – If there is one piece of equipment you should invest in when you are pregnant, it is a stability ball!! Not only are they great to exercise with, but some women love to labour on them and fussy babies can enjoy the gentle bounce too! If you are trying to get your labour to progress, some midwives like pelvic rocking or even bouncing on the ball to help open up the hips and guide the baby down into the pelvis. If you don’t have a ball, you can lie on your back with knees bent and gently rock your pelvis back and forth.
Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels) – Not “just” for incontinence, kegels help you to have a fully functional pelvic floor, which will help with delivery. Recruiting those muscles and sending signals to them to work can also help bring on labour, especially if you are overdue.
Walking – Have you ever been on the labour and delivery floor of a hospital? If so, you have likely seen (very) pregnant women walking around with their partners trying to get that baby out! Sometimes the simplest things like walking, using gravity for what it is, can help get that baby where it needs to be.
Having said that, other than rock climbing, bungee jumping and sky-diving, there is no real “right or wrong” when it comes to trying to bring on labour (those are in the wrong category). Some women swear by having sex (if you have it in you) and some say massage helps. I even remember a woman showing up at one of my exercises classes over 10 years ago, 1 week overdue and her midwife told her to go exercise. She went into labour the next day.
Just listen to your body and do what is safe. You want to GET THAT BABY OUT but you want to do it safely, with everything in place.
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