Many women want to have a natural birth, but too often things don’t go according to plan. Hiring a great doula like Kelly Maslen is an awesome start, but there’s a lot more you can do to help prepare your body for the big event. Today, I’m going to share my top pain-free pregnancy tips to increase your chances of having an easy, all-natural birth.
Did you know that a lot of the issues we have giving birth are because of our modern movement (and lack of movement) habits?
What’s awesome about this is that simple changes to your daily movement can have a big impact in helping you have the birth you want. You can make many of these changes immediately, without even taking extra time in your day.
And what’s also great is that the same changes that will help the birthing process will also help you avoid the common aches & pains that go along with pregnancy – backaches, sore feet, sneeze pee, mummy tummy, digestive issues….
So here’s what you can do, starting RIGHT NOW!
1. Stop sucking it in
A common habit that I see in many of my prenatal clients is sucking in their stomach. It helps us look good in a bikini, but did you know it directly contributes to digestive issues, weak core muscles, and postpartum pelvic floor pain?
Not sucking it in can be so hard for women to do – there’s so much pressure to look skinny – but what better time than when you’re pregnant!? It’s easy, fast, and can make a huge difference to your health! Just let it all hang out. If you’re not sure if you suck in or not, try this belly release and core strength exercise to help you become aware of this habit and change it.
Related to this, try to avoid straining when bathrooming (and also avoid holding in gas). You can assist your elimination by investing in a SquattyPotty or a pair of yoga blocks to put under your feet. Staying hydrated and eating well can also be helpful.
2. Check your shoes
Get out of high heels now! (This means any rise between the toe and the heel at all). Heels shorten your pelvic floor and mess up your entire body’s alignment. Back pain, foot pain, so much badness!
Save the heels for very special occasions, and for daily life, choose shoes with no heel at all (it’s called ‘zero drop’ by shoe nerds) such as converse. NOTE – if you have been used to wearing high heels or if you use orthotics you will need to transition slowly. Switch to a lower heel heel, walk barefoot at home, and consider starting a program of foot exercises. Here’s a simple guide to choosing better shoes. If you want more information on feet and great foot exercises, try this book by Katy Bowman: Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Foot Wear.
3. Get out of that chair
Sitting in chairs literally changes the shape of your pelvis – leaving you with less room to get that baby through. It also contributes to having a short, tight (and weak) pelvic floor, and to back & hip pain. No good!
Here’s what to do.
At work: if you can stand while you work, go for it! If that’s not an option, take lots of mini walking or stretching breaks (getting up for a 2-minute walk every 30 minutes is ideal). Plus, learn how to sit the right way – this video I made about sitting, standing desks, and other workplace wellness tips has lots of info.
At home: try sitting on the floor instead of chairs. It sounds a bit crazy, but it literally means you’re stretching your hips (and your pelvic floor muscles!) every time you sit down to relax (or eat dinner, or whatever). This is one of the easiest ways to help your body get ready for a baby and adds no extra time to your day.
4. Learn to love walking
Walk a lot.
Walking at least 10,000 steps or around 6km a day is a good target.
If you are not used to walking regularly, transition slowly – add about 10 percent more distance per week.
The best walking is on uneven, natural terrain – parks are great, but it’s even good to walk on grassy verges and meadows. However, the pavement is better than nothing. Hills are your friend.
Choose minimal and zero drop shoes if possible.
I like using a tracker app to help me know how far I’ve walked – it’s fun to see the miles add up. I use Moves, which is available for iPhone and Android, and I believe is free, but any of them will do.
5. Get aligned
Your body is a lot like your car – when it’s in alignment, everything runs smoothly. When your car is out of alignment, even a tiny bit, it accumulates premature, uneven damage that affects not just the wheels, but the steering, suspension and durability of the entire vehicle.
So if you’re not standing (and walking, and sitting) in alignment, and you add the weight of a growing baby, you’re at a much higher risk of aches & pains. So just learning how to stand in alignment might be the best, easiest way to have a better pregnancy.
For even more tips on having the best pregnancy and birth experience, you can follow Petra’s blog or connect with her on Facebook. She also teaches private and group prenatal classes.
Petra Fisher is a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist and a recovering lawyer – once she discovered her passion for health and movement there was no looking back. Modern movement habits can have an impact on both pregnancy and the birthing process. Petra uses simple, but highly effective exercises, stretches and training to help moms-to-be enjoy a more comfortable pregnancy and prepare for a natural birth.