MomFilter: Physical exercises that helped you prepare for childbirth?
March 5, 2018 9:12 AM   Subscribe

My gym has canceled several of my strenth-based and cardio classes, which has completely upended my routine. Bad timing - I'm 23 weeks along. In lieu of classes, I've taken to climbing the stairs at work, about 28 floors a day ( I guess that's 56 flights?) which is about 30 minutes total. I'm finding it helpful, and I'm curious what specific physical exercises helped others.

If it matters, I'm in good shape, thin and I've only gained about 15 pounds so far so I'm not looking to change that. Pregnancy is so far healthy and happily uneventful.
posted by onecircleaday to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Squats and yoga.
posted by crunchy potato at 9:27 AM on March 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Finding ways to sit in a squat, cat pose, sitting on an exercise ball while working, and lots of walking outside when I could. I think my awareness of how I was moving my body to “prep” for pregnancy came from this blog:

Which should be taken with a grain of salt as should anything geared toward pregnant women - the stuff about staying vertical and re-learning a natural squat was very helpful but I disregarded nearly everything else.
posted by annathea at 9:29 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I got several workout dvds and alternated them throughout my second and third trimester (I had been a regular runner and workout dvd fan before pregnancy). Suzanne Bowen's prenatal workouts were my go-tos. Between 2 dvds, I had about 7 twenty minute segments to rotate, and did one per day pretty religiously. The stretches also seemed helpful for preventing sciatica and other pregnancy related pain. They are barre-type workouts, good for maintaining strength, but also have some cardio affect. I also did a lot of walking. I took a weekly prenatal yoga class in my third trimester, which I enjoyed for its social aspect but felt like it was "too easy" fitness-wise.

I felt well prepared for labor, and a couple of nurses commented that. I also bounced back pretty quickly afterward.

The two dvds I used were Long and Lean Prenatal and Slim and Toned Prenatal. She has an additional dvd out since, Sleek and Toned Prenatal, which I haven't tried, but I'd bet it's also worthwhile.
posted by Kriesa at 9:53 AM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: To prepare for birth - lots of walking, and when I was at home watching tv I'd make sure to sit down in a squat position at least a few minutes. Cleaning the floor on hands and knees is also good when you're closer to delivering the baby.

Some work for the arms and upper body is good cause you're going to be surprised at how heavy a newborn feels when you are carrying them around and you end up with rounded shoulders often.
posted by lafemma at 10:19 AM on March 5, 2018

Kegels! Emily Oster writes about the importance of them in her much lauded Expecting Better. I forget how many/how long/how often, but I did what she recommended, and I like to think it contributed to my relatively easy and short labour.
posted by toby_ann at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My midwife recommended I haven't tried the workouts but do a bunch of the daily stretches/exercises, and have noticed they seem to be helping with back pain (no sciatica this time!). Specifically, I'm doing squats & lunges, walking daily, sitting on an exercise ball sometimes, and doing most of the stretches recommended on the daily pregnancy page. From what I've been told & read, walking is great exercise in pregnancy and I find it really helps my back. I will say I was not in fantastic shape prior to pregnancy (only exercise was walking daily) and I do not think I could climb 28 floors right now (I'm 34 weeks) so this might not seem terribly challenging to you! I am seriously impressed!
posted by john_snow at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Mommastrong! The woman who created it is awesome and has made one of the most welcoming and supportive environments for exercise I've ever seen. She keeps the cameras rolling as her kids wander across the screen, when the place is a mess because a baby's been sick for a week, etc. There's a pro-natal series that's supposed to be pretty great. ms. range started after we had kids and it's not an exaggeration when I say it's been life changing.
posted by range at 10:42 AM on March 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I agree with the suggestion for upper body weight work - you'll be picking up, holding, and putting down the baby a lot and it's more of a workout than you might think.
posted by mogget at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2018

When I was pregnant I maintained my regular slow running schedule eventually transitioning to walking when I got near term. This kept my general fitness level up and building a regular schedule of running/walking made it easier to return to exercising after delivery since I could take the baby with me in a jogging stroller or baby carrier and essentially pick up where I left off.
posted by bq at 1:24 PM on March 5, 2018

Seconding range's recommendation of Mommastrong in general, although I don't have experience with the prenatal (pro-natal) series. I've been doing these workouts for about six months now, and really enjoy how streamlined and well thought out the workouts are, and by Courtney Wycoff's understanding of women's bodies and needs.
posted by Kriesa at 1:39 PM on March 5, 2018

Best answer: One thing I wish I had done during my first pregnancy was look at some of the materials widely available online about how to prevent symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) in later pregnancy. This is a really, *really* common ailment in late pregnancy where your pelvis gets unstable and can start to cause pain in your lower back and right above your pubic bone, which makes even basic mobility (like walking short distances or turning over in bed) extremely painful. I was very active with trail running / hiking until midway through my third trimester, and then I got SPD and could barely walk, which really sucked. Especially because there were some basic precautions and exercises I could have been doing that might have prevented me from getting it in the first place, if I had only known.

Just as an FYI, walking up stairs is one of the activities that can trigger/worsen SPD. If you keep doing that as a work out, it's probably worth acquainting yourself with early symptoms so you can keep an eye out. Most of the prenatal workout videos that I used were very good at avoiding movements that would exacerbate SPD, so those are probably a good option. Prenatal yoga, surprisingly, can be pretty hit-or-miss so if you do that I'd make sure your teacher is pretty well-versed in the biomechanics of pregnancy.

During my second pregnancy I ended up signing up for cheap-ish private swim lessons at the local rec center and learned to lap swim, which was an awesome cardio workout. Plus it let me dream about really doing a triathlon at some point postpartum, which has always been a goal of mine, but I was kind of chicken about taking lap swimming lessons because I didn't want to look clueless in the pool. A major bonus of lap swimming when heavily pregnant is no one can tell if you're bad at it, they're all just impressed you're working out at all--so it's a great time to learn!
posted by iminurmefi at 2:34 PM on March 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh and one bonus thought! I can't point to a specific YouTube video or anything, but I'd try to see if you can find pelvic floor exercises that concentrate on both drawing in the pelvic floor (kegels) as well as *relaxing*. The second part is arguably way more important while giving birth, and per my (postpartum) pelvic floor physical therapist, it can actually be counterproductive to do a bunch of kegels while pregnant because you risk creating too much tension or hypotonia in your pelvic floor. If you do kegels, make sure you're pairing them with squats, since that movement stretches the pelvic floor and can counteract any excessive tightness you may create with kegels.

I ponied up for the Mutu Systems postpartum exercise videos online (it was around $100) and so far I'm really liking that, and those videos do a great job of setting up pelvic floor exercises in a way that encourages general mobility (able to tighten and loosen when needed, versus just being tight). I think some of the videos in that series are okay for pregnancy and I'd definitely recommend it; many of the exercises are exactly the same as what my pelvic PT taught me to do postpartum after my first pregnancy.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Bradley Method has a few exercises. I skimmed Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way during my recent pregnancy and did the exercises every day in my last trimester. They are:
- Tailor sitting (sitting cross legged) as often as possible.
- Squatting (not workout squats, but a deep, flat-footed squat). I started at less but worked up to a five minute squat every day.
- Pelvic rocking, which is like cat and cow in yoga. Make sure you just move the pelvis, not shoulders. I did this 30x a day.
- Kegels
- there's also pushing your knees apart against the resistance of your partner, but I didn't do that

I also did some YouTube prenatal workout videos. I especially liked the ones made by BodyFit by Amy.

Last, this is not so much a gym exercise, but I think perineal (self)massage helped me avoid tearing during delivery.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:46 PM on March 5, 2018

Best answer: Pilates! Great for the core and the pelvic floor, and they have loads of pregnant lady modifications. Also great for non-pregnant people of all genders.
posted by wowenthusiast at 9:34 PM on March 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

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