Read on for three of my favorite stretches for an easier labor and pregnancy.
I was inspired to write this post after talking to some nuns in NYC while visting my sister.
Well, technically they are sisters, not nuns, but I didn’t know the distinction before now either!
But whatever you call them, a lot of the work they’re doing centers on helping pregnant women.
And me being me, I couldn’t help but mention that I, too, love to help women who are expecting! After a lot of excitement by both parties (because we’re both pretty psyched about the chance to help our pregnant friends 🤗), they asked me if I could share anything to pass on to their ladies.
Which made me start thinking about some of the basics I think could apply to most pregnant mamas. And, perhaps even more importantly, what actually has the possibility of helping make for an easier labor and pregnancy?
A lot of women don’t know there are things you can do during your pregnancy to help improve the possibility of an easier labor. But the truth is, you can! And you can do things today to improve that chance.
Plus, you don’t have to keep suffering through the aches and pains of pregnancy without any relief. The stretches below can help with leg aches and back pain, digestion, and even breathing.
If you’re interested in even more tools to help with better positioning for both you and baby, check out Spinning Babies (I know the name alone was enough to make me want to check it out!)
Stretch 1 for an easier labor/pregnancy: calf stretch
Most of us have done a calf stretch at some point in our lives, but you probably didn’t know it might help during pregnancy! Here are a few ways stretching your calves might help ease pregnancy and labor woes:
benefits of Calf Stretch
- decreasing feet and leg pain
- Stretching your calves helps give length to the back of the legs, which is especially important if you sit a lot or where shoes with any kind of heel (and that’s pretty much all of us – even most of our tennis shoes are higher at the heel than at the toe)
- creating more mobility for the pelvis to open during labor
- Lengthening the muscles on the back of the legs allows for more mobility in the sacrum and pelvis (technically, this has more to do with length in the hamstrings, but I’m going to show you a way to stretch your calves that will also help with hamstring length)
- making squatting easier
- Squatting during pregnancy and labor can be helpful for lengthening the pelvic floor to allow for easier passage of baby
How to do a calf stretch
Below you’ll find two of my favorite videos for explaining calf stretching and lengthening the back of the legs.
Stretch 2 for an easier labor/pregnancy: Psoas stretch
Lengthening the psoas has a myriad of benefits during pregnancy, but also for the rest of your life.
benefits of Psoas stretch
- Allowing baby to move down and engage
- Because of the anatomy of the psoas muscle, tightness in it may keep baby high – not something you want when ready to give birth
- Easing digestion
- A psoas muscle in good length allows for more space for your intestines to move and digest = less constipation 💩
- Decreasing low back pain
- For some people, the tightness in their psoas muscle leads to increasing back pain
How to do a Psoas stretch
Here is a video on performing a psoas stretch (with yours truly) and one of releasing the psoas in a resting position (yes, please!)
Stretch 3 for an easier labor/pregnancy: Pec stretch
This stretch feels soooooo good. After I get done, I usually feel like I can stand taller and feel lighter.
benefits of Pec stretch
- Breathe easier
- By opening up the front of the chest, you’ll be able to expand your lungs more easily as your baby grows and decreases the ability of your diaphragm to move down
- Better posture
- Tight pec muscles keep you shoulders pulled forward, making standing up taller a challenge
- Less upper back pain
- As breasts grow to prepare for lactaction, they can pull you forward. For some people this can cause upper back achiness, and this stretch (coupled with some strengthening like rows) can help
How to do a Pec stretch
Below is a video from an Aussie (don’t you love her accent!) on how to stretch both the pec major and minor. Make sure to do this on both arms 💪
Stretching for an Easier Labor & Pregnancy
At the end of the day, the best way to prepare for an easier labor and pregnancy is through a variety of movement! No one exercise or stretch can prepare you for everything that could happen during this time, but adding in more movement can certainly put you on the right path.
Want to know the first exercise I teach my pregnant and postpartum mamas? Check out this post.
Do you or did you have any favorite stretches during pregnancy? Anything you did that made a big difference in your labor? Share below!