No one not your doctor, or even your mother, can reliably predict how your labor will progress. Fortunately, there are a few exercises and stretches you can do now to help prepare your body.

Kegels

Kegel exercises are contractions of the pelvic floor muscles that support your urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles improves circulation to your rectal and vaginal area, helping to keep hemorrhoids at bay and speeding healing after an episiotomy or tear, if you have one during childbirth. There's even some evidence suggesting that strong pelvic floor muscles may shorten the pushing stage of labor.

  • Tighten the muscles around your vagina as if trying to interrupt the flow of urine when going to the bathroom.
  • Hold for a count of ten, then release. Repeat ten times. Try to work up to three or four sets a day.

Pelvic tilt or angry cat

This variation of the pelvic tilt, done on all fours, strengthens the abdominal muscles and eases back pain during pregnancy and labor.

  • Get down on your hands and knees, arms shoulder-width apart and knees hip-width apart, keeping your arms straight but not locking the elbows.
  • As you breathe in, tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck your buttocks under and round your back.
  • Relax your back into a neutral position as you breathe out.
  • Repeat at your own pace, following the rhythm of your breath.
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Reverse pelvic tilt

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Squat

This exercise strengthens your thighs and helps open your pelvis in preparation for delivery.

  • Stand facing the back of a chair with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, toes pointed outward. Hold the back of the chair for support.
  • Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Then lower your tailbone toward the floor as though you were sitting down on a chair. Find your balance — most of your weight should be toward your heels.
  • Take a deep breath in and then exhale, pushing into your legs to rise to a standing position.

Tailor or Cobbler Pose

This position can help open your pelvis and loosen your hip joints in preparation for birth. It can also improve your posture and ease tension in your lower back.

  • Sit up straight against a wall with the soles of your feet touching each other (sit on a folded towel if that's more comfortable for you).
  • Gently press your knees down and away from each other, but don't force them.
  • Stay in this position for as long as you're comfortable.
  • Remember to start slowly and work at your own level for each exercise.
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Sitting on “Birthing Ball”

  • This simple maneuver helps alleviate strain on your lower back and sacrum. It is also a great stretch to help prevent Sciatic Nerve pain in pregnancy.
  • Simply use a birthing ball (exercise ball) to sit on when sitting.
  • You can also sit and rock on the birthing ball in order to ready your pelvis for labor.
  • Also leaning on the ball and rocking helps open up your lower back, pelvis and sacrum.
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Figure Four stretch

  • This stretch helps take strain off of your lower back and also helps to decrease Sciatic Nerve Pain in pregnancy.
  • Lie on your back and bring your ankle above your opposite knee and have a partner bring your uncrossed leg up to comfortably stretch the back muscle of your leg. Repeat on other side. Make sure to have your partner gently stretch your muscles so as not to strain your muscles and ligaments.
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