Exercises to Prepare for Natural Childbirth

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Therapist and pregnant patient practice exercises

Folks opting for an unmedicated or natural birth might use breathing techniques, hot and/or cold compresses, massage, counterpressure, aromatherapy, water therapy, meditation, labor tools like birthing balls, and other methods to manage the pain of labor and delivery. 

If you haven’t yet, check out our blog on How to Make a Natural Birth Plan

If you are ready to start now, there’s plenty you can do at home to prepare for a natural birth. Here are some exercises to prepare for natural childbirth – focusing on getting your body relaxed and prepped for perfect pushing.

#1 Knees-to-Chest

Pregnant woman lays on side, holding one knee up.

Lie down on your left side and bring one knee to your chest. Take five slow, controlled breaths. Slowly roll onto your back and bring both knees to your chest, grabbing either your knees or ankles to extend and open the stretch. Take five additional breaths. Carefully roll to your right side and bring your other knee to your chest. Take five final breaths. 

#2 Cat-Cow Pose

Pregnant woman on hands and knees arches back up and looks down in cat cow pose.

Get on all fours. Keep your hands shoulder-width apart and your knees directly below your hips. Inhale deeply and curve your lower back, bringing your head up and tilting your pelvis. Exhale deeply and bring your abdomen in, arching your spine and bringing your head and pelvis down. Repeat the stretch.

#3 Hip Circles on Birth Ball

Woman sits on birth ball, smiling

Sit on a well-inflated birth ball with a wall or countertop nearby for support. Slowly rotate your hips in a clockwise position, about 10 times. Switch to a counterclockwise direction, rotating your hips about 10 times in the opposite direction.

#4 Child’s Pose

Pregnant woman leans back into child's pose.

Kneel on the floor. Touch your big toes and spread your knees wider than your hips. Rock your hips backward onto your heels and stretch your arms forward. Exhale and move your torso closer to the ground. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. Use a pillow under your chest for added support and comfort.

#5 Deep Squat Stretch

pregnant woman crouches with hands pressed together, between her knees

Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Slowly bend your knees and push your bottom back, as if you’re about to sit down. As you squat, put your elbows on the inside of your thighs, press your palms together. Your heels can be lifted, or you can place a rolled towel or yoga mat under your heels for more support.  Hold the pose for five slow breaths and then slowly rise. 

Perineal Massage

Perineal massage–slowly stretching and relaxing the tissue between your vaginal opening and your butthole–can help to reduce tearing during vaginal delivery. You can start this any time during pregnancy!

If you’re in your third trimester, I have just what you need to build confidence in your body as your due date approaches. It’s called the Childbirth Prep Series, and it includes daily exercises to prepare for natural childbirth and help make sure your pelvic floor is relaxed and ready to help bring your baby into the world! Join the V-Hive so you can start feeling better prepared today!

Alternative Pushing Positions

When the time comes, you might feel pressured to push in the “standard” position–on your back with your legs in stirrups. But there are actually several other positions in which you can labor and deliver.

#1 Squatting

Woman squatting & smiling

Get gravity on your side! Squatting can expand the pelvis, making it easier for the baby to pass through the birth canal. Using a birthing stool or birthing bar can be a bonus.

#2 Kneeling

Woman kneeling onto back of hospital bed

Kneeling is best known for relieving contractions and easing back pressure. It can also help turn your baby toward the best birthing position. 

#3 Hands and Knees

Pregnant woman on hands and knees

Getting on all fours can relieve back pain. It can also open your pelvis, giving more space for your baby to pass through. To give your arms a break in this position, lower your shoulders and place your head on a pillow. Turning your knees inward and feet outward can open the pelvic outlet for the baby’s head.

#4 Side-lying

Pregnant woman lies on side with pillow supports

This restful position can give you a much-needed break. Lie on your side, keeping one or both knees bent. This position can help relieve back pain and minimize the risk of perineal tearing.

#5 Reclining

Woman lays on exam table with one leg propped up under exercise ball

Don’t totally discount the reclined birthing position! Reclining or laying down completely can release tension and relax your muscles. Rest when you need to. You’ve got this!

Get ready, mama!

Most people think that birth just happens. But you can prepare for birth to help you feel educated and empowered during your experience. 

For pelvic-floor-PT-approved birth preparation, check out The V-Hive Membership. My Childbirth Prep Series will help you build strength and confidence as your due date approaches—for whatever type of birth feels best for you! (If you’re in your third trimester, your body will love you for this!)

Check it all out on The V-Hive. Your first week is F-R-E-E!

Join The V-Hive

Online pelvic floor fitness programs from a board-certified Women’s Health Physical Therapist. Your first week is free.

Free Pelvic Floor Guides

Download these free guides for some simple, do-able, totally-not-weird tips to take better care of your down there.

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