- Keeping the pelvis and ligaments mobile and relaxed;
- Encouraging the baby into an optimal position;
- Minimising common pregnancy challenges, including sore backs and constipation;
- Helping to boost stamina and minimise muscle fatigue in labour;
- Helping the mother recover quicker after birth.
In fact, some really fit women will need to prepare for birth by learning to release their pelvic muscles and ligaments. They will often benefit from yoga, chiropractic and bowen/emmet techniques to help identify and relax the pelvic region.
For the rest of us mere mortals, regular, gentle exercise is all that is needed. Walking, swimming, yoga is all helpful to keep the pelvis moving and, towards the end of pregnancy, it allows baby to settle into a lovely position. Regular exercise is also great for preventing some of the common pregnancy challenges, including the aches and pains. Bodywork such as chiropractic, bowen/Emmett technique and massage are great complements to regular exercise and highly recommended.
If you’re usually active, can you continue your usual physical activity during pregnancy? In most cases, absolutely. Over the years I’ve supported many physically active clients who maintain an amazing amount of exercise that I can only aspire to. As long as the mother listens to her body and slows down when she’s getting signals that it’s becoming too much. There is always a point in pregnancy when physical activity will need to be modified. Remember, the pregnancy hormone Relaxin makes women more prone to injury to joints and ligaments. If you’re ever unsure, always check with your healthcare provider.
Some women will move around quite a bit during the earlier part of labour. Being capable of walking on and off for several hours can help minimise sore muscles after birth. But you know what – even elite athletes can feel sore after birth!
Once active labour is underway and the mother is “going internal”, she will tend to stay in her “birth cave” and only move around short distances– from the bed to the shower; from the shower to the birth ball etc. The mother will instinctively find active positions perfect for her labour style. It’s important for support people to think of ways to minimise sore muscles so that she can maintain the positions for as long as she needs. A rolled up towel underneath her hands (while on all fours) can prevent wrist fatigue. When a mother is squatting, a small stool to sit on in between contractions can minimise burning thighs. A deep bath is fantastic for many, many reasons including allowing the mother to move in almost any position with ease, while being supported by the buoyancy of the water.
Regardless of the fitness levels, all women will need a recovery period. Or, as I like to call it, a Babymoon. (http://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/4-reasons-why-you-should-hibernate-after-birth/)