Prepping Your Body for Birth

Train your body physically and mentally for the big day.

Article & Photo courtesy of Well Rounded NY

Preparing your body for pregnancy and birth is comparable to getting ready for a marathon-meets-Tough Mudder! Although every birth is unique, a healthy, fit mother has strength and flexibility to her advantage to push her baby out like a pro. The birthing experience will be taxing on your body both physically and emotionally, so the more “training” you can do beforehand, the better. Below, find 5 great tips that will help you physically and mentally prep for birth.

Physical Prep:

  1. Squat it out. If I were to choose one exercise to perfect, it would definitely be squats because they help prepare for a natural delivery. Whether you play with a TRX squat, a yoga Malasana squat, or a weighted goblet squat, make sure you get low, and wherever the toes go, the knees should follow.
  2. Learn to Swim. Swimming takes 90% of the body weight off when you are waddling around winded during your later months of pregnancy. Learn how to swim now, and your body will thank you down the road! Spending time belly down also helps position the baby for a natural birth at 36 weeks pregnant, when you are praying your baby doesn’t flip breeched.
  3.  Untwist Asymmetries. Do you do any of the following? Turn to look at your computer screen, carry a side shoulder purse, or jut one hip out? Unbalanced movement causes a twist in the spine and pelvis. Why is it important? Two ligaments attach the uterus to the pelvis, and any twist in the pelvis will create torsion of these ligaments. If there’s a twist in the pelvis and uterus during labor, the baby will have difficulty descending and may end up facing the front of the mother leading to immense prolonged back labor. It’s important to get assessed by a chiropractor to help optimize the structure and function of your body leading up to getting pregnant.

Mental Prep:

  1. Meditate Daily. Meditation helps us to let go of our extraneous thoughts and habits, allowing us settle into a safe and calm space. The same is true during labor; if we let go of fear and expectations, we drop into a primal, grounded space during contractions and stay present between contractions. Our patients at the Urban Wellness Clinic who meditate daily tend to deliver their babies like rock stars! Our favorite meditation guides include Headspace,  a friendly app with short 10-minute meditations under the guidance of Andy, a gentle British bloke; and Art of Meditation  with Elena Brower, an innovative and accessible online offering created by my favorite NYC yoga instructor. Find the same time of day to meditate, this helps ease in creating a new healthy habit. Just start, there’s no better way to break procrastination than sit down, close your eyes and breathe.
  2. Belly Breathe. Place your left hand on your chest and right hand on your belly, and take a breath. Where did you send the majority of your breath? If it was all in your chest, welcome to the stressed out club of NYC’s dysfunctional breathers, don’t worry there’s hope. The natural breath is mostly belly expansion as we breathe in and the belly softening to the spine as we breathe out, and the sternum (chest bone) will travel forward but not upward.

Tips for belly breathing:

  • Place the tongue on the roof of the mouth 1 inch behind the teeth,  this helps access belly breathing.
  • Focus on the exhale. This is when we actually breathe, when there is an exchange of oxygen to the blood stream.
  • Low hum on the exhale. This engages the vocal cords and core muscles will sync up the diaphragm on the exhale.

Get belly breathing down now. During pregnancy, the baby grows which pushes up on the diaphragm and leads to using neck muscles to breathe and reflux. Lastly, the pressure action of the diaphragm is essential in creating force for progression and pushing out your baby in second phase of delivery.

This article is by Emily Kiberd, courtesy of Well Rounded NY.  Conceived with love by former magazine editors Jessica Pallay and Kaity Velez, Well Rounded NY aims to be the singular pregnancy resource for city-savvy moms-to-be. Through reviews, profiles, expert Q&As, local guides and more, Well Rounded curates the New York City pregnancy and helps its readers come to terms – and term! – with pregnancy in the city.