I am happy to welcome back my wife Caitlin for another guest post. JFG
What is the best exercise during pregnancy? Have you ever tried Hula Hooping? As a childbirth educator, I occasionally get questions about exercise during pregnancy. And last week one of my students asked me what exercises would be particularly good to train the body for labor, particularly the second stage since we were talking about pushing.
So it got me thinking about the training that athletes do to prepare for events. In order to run a marathon, a runner runs a lot to develop the endurance and strength to be able to run 26 miles. Labor has often been compared to a marathon. Having never run one I can’t say for sure how similar or different it is to labor, but I do know that marathon running and labor require similar things in order to finish: support, endurance, pain coping skills, and support! Staying in the moment and taking it one step at a time (or one contraction at a time!) helps a person get through either experience. Of course, if anyone out there has done both, please feel free to comment!
But how can you specifically train for labor? It depends on how you already move your body. Anything that gets you in touch with your body—yoga, running, belly dancing, hula hooping—will help prepare you for labor. Just keep doing your thing throughout your pregnancy. You might need to adjust or slow down. (And if skydiving or competitive mountain biking is your thing, you might want to find another thing while pregnant!)
I am a longtime yoga practitioner and my practice definitely changed during my pregnancies—first trimester I was just trying to cope with exhaustion and feeling ill—I even brought a baggie of almonds and nibbled on them throughout class to avoid extreme nausea. (Eating during class is a definite yoga no-no, but since it was my husband’s class in our own studio, I was able to take care of myself in that way.) Second trimester I had more energy and it felt great to return to a more rigorous practice. And 3rd trimester I took it slowly again. I credit this practice with helping me in a huge way during my labors. I was in touch with my body, I had strength, I had practice working with challenging sensations.
Some years after I’d had my two kids I saw this video of hula hooping posted on youtube. To me it exemplifies a woman doing her thing in pregnancy. Here she is, 35 weeks pregnant and moving fully, in the moment, totally connected to her body and tuned into her rhythm. I love seeing pregnant women who move. How did you take care of your body in your pregnancy?