Exercises for strength building for childbirth
December 26, 2012 5:58 PM Subscribe
I'm currently 22 weeks pregnant and am wanting to start some kind of muscle building exercise to help prepare me for (a hopefully unmedicated) childbirth. I have some health problems which place limitations on the types of exercise I can do.
This is my first pregnancy, I'll be 37 when the child's born and am physically very weak. So far all indications (1st and 2nd trimester ultrasounds, basic genetic testing, all appointments with the midwife) have been that the little one is doing well, yay! And so far I've had no pregnancy related red flags.
I would very much like to have as natural a birth as is safely possible. I am hoping that this will lead to a shorter recovery time and hopefully a reduced chance of a relapse of my illness. I also have had unreliable reactions to some pain meds in the past and would like to avoid a negative reaction (with all the resulting stress and illness) to a new med during labor.
I'll be giving birth at a fairly progressive hospital with a midwife and possibly a doula (also, my husband will be there and hopefully my mother) and am under the impression that they allow movement, have birthing balls and showers. I would like to utilize as many non-medication pain management techniques as possible. The problem is that I am so muscularly weak that I have difficulty standing up from a squat now, even though I have a healthy bmi and my belly is very small.
For context, I have had a chronic health problem (ME/CFS) for the last 3 years. One aspect of my illness is POTS, which basically means my body doesn't regulate blood flow well when I am upright/standing so my heart rate jumps in an (often futile) attempt to get blood to my brain. When the POTS is bad my heartrate can jump from 60bpm (resting) to 120+bpm (standing) within 3 minutes and I get lightheaded and sick from lack of oxygen. Btw, I have seen a cardiologist and perinatologist about the POTS, and they are in agreement that I should have a little more monitoring (L&D vs. the birth center), but they are not overly concerned about its effect on the pregnancy and delivery, and I am still in the primary care of my midwife. The POTS makes it difficult for me to do exercise which include prolonged standing (tai chi, chi kung, standing postures in yoga, that kind of thing). The ME/CFS also places constraints on what type of exercise I am able to do - it makes aerobic exercise and any prolonged exercise routine difficult to impossible.
So, in summary, what kinds of (non-aerobic, non-prolonged standing) targeted exercises would be good for developing muscle strength to better support a natural child birth? I would assume leg muscles will be very important as squatting seems to be a big part of childbirth, but any more specific (or different) recommendations? The more 'efficient' the exercises the better - i.e. the most useful muscle development for the amount of energy invested.