Do These Stretches for Pregnancy Everyday

When you’re living life with a baby in tow, some aches and pains accompany the joy of expecting.

We suggest stretches for pregnancy to ease those discomforts. To experience the best results in the way of comfort and pain management, do these stretches every single day. Some moms-to-be find that enrolling in a prenatal yoga class is a life saver for them! But, always check with your doctor before doing any exercises.

Not only will these stretches during pregnancy help your physical body, but it will also slow you down to give your active brain a break and aid in connecting with your baby.

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WHY DO STRETCHES FOR PREGNANCY?

There are countless benefits to stretching regularly throughout your entire pregnancy. Stretching helps your body stay flexible and prevents injuries. Your muscles and body can get worn down as you grow this precious human inside you. Stretching keeps you healthy and nimble as you prepare for labor.

If you decide not to stretch during pregnancy, your range of motion will most likely decrease, making life and labor more difficult.

Not stretching during pregnancy makes your muscles grow short and tight, so that they function less efficiently. Not stretching during pregnancy can lead to spinal misalignment, which can cause mild to severe back pain and can cause specific muscle groups to tighten. Over time, spinal misalignment can distort the shapes of major muscle groups. (1. Fit Day).

Lower back pain is often associated with pregnancy and stretching can significantly help relieve this.

WHAT STRETCHES ARE GOOD FOR PREGNANCY?

There are plenty of stretches you can do during pregnancy that are tailored to the discomforts of each trimester.

STRETCHES FOR THE FIRST TRIMESTER

Knee Hug

STRETCHES FOR THE FIRST TRIMESTER

  • Lift your knees up to your chest and hold them to feel a comfortable stretch in your back.
  • Hold for 8 – 12 seconds and relax.
  • Repeat 3 – 5 times.

Pelvic Tilt Back Stretch

Pelvic Tilt Back Stretch 1 Pelvic Tilt Back Stretch 2

  • Start with your knees bent, so your back feels comfortable.
  • Slowly flatten your lower back onto the floor and then release.
  • Repeat and hold for 6 – 8 seconds, feeling the lengthening in your lower back.
  • It’s ok for your bottom to lift if you feel this will allow your back to lengthen further.
  • Keep breathing quickly and smoothly.
  • To focus further, roll one part of your lower back onto the floor at a time.
  • Repeat five times.

Lean Back Stretch

Lean Back Stretch 1

  • Sit with your feet flat on the floor in front of you.
  • Place your palms down onto the floor behind you, fingertips pointing forward, and slowly lean back onto your arms.
  • Lean your head back and extend backward steadily, as far as you feel you can go, keeping comfortable control of the movement.
  • Hold this stretch for a few seconds and roll back up into sitting.
  • Repeat 2 – 3 times, each time holding the stretch for as long as it feels comfortable.

Rotation Stretch

Rotation Stretch to the left Rotation Stretch to the right

  • With your knees together and arms out to the side, gently roll your knees to one side and then to the other.
  • Keep the movement and amount of stretch at a comfortable level.
  • There should be no back pain felt.
  • Repeat five times on each side.
  • Finish with holding the stretch on the one hand for 10 – 12 seconds.
  • Repeat to the other side.

Thoracic Rotation Stretch

Thoracic Rotation Stretch

  • With your hand on your forehead, roll your elbow back towards the floor.
  • Hold for a few seconds and roll forwards.
  • This exercise can either be done – moving forwards and back 5 – 6 times OR rolling back and holding the stretch for 10 – 12 seconds, feeling your chest and shoulder open up.

(First trimester stretches adapted from 2. The Pregnancy Centre)

STRETCHES FOR THE SECOND TRIMESTER

As your baby grows and your body rounds, your lower back may become sore. During the second trimester, here are some easy stretches to help with these new discomforts.

Lower Back Stretch

Lower Back Stretch

  • Rest on your hands and knees with your head in line with your back.
  • Pull in your stomach, rounding your back slightly.
  • Hold for several seconds, and then relax your stomach and back — keeping your back as flat as possible.
  • Don’t let your back sag.
  • Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.

Backward Stretch

Backward Stretch

  • To stretch your back, pelvis, and thighs, try this backward stretch.
  • Start on your hands and knees, keeping your arms straight and your hands directly beneath your shoulders.
  • Curl backward toward your heels as far as is comfortable for your knees.
  • Tuck your head toward your knees and keep your arms extended.
  • Hold for several seconds, and then return to the starting position.
  • Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.

Standing Pelvic Tilt

Standing Pelvic Tilt

  • Stand up straight with your back against a wall, your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Push the small of your back against the wall.
  • Hold for several seconds, and then return to the starting position.
  • Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.

( the Second trimester stretches adapted from 3. Mayo Clinic.)

STRETCHES FOR THE THIRD TRIMESTER

As you stretch into your roundest trimester yet, you will want these stretches to care for your muscles and body.

Backward Stretch with Pregnancy Ball

Backward Stretch with Pregnancy Ball

  • Start on your knees with your arms straight and hands on a fitness ball, as shown.
  • Curl backward slowly in the direction of your heels as far as is comfortable for your knees.
  • Hold for several seconds, and then return to the starting position.
  • Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.

Pelvic Tilt with Pregnancy Ball

Pelvic Tilt with Pregnancy Ball

  • Sit on the floor with your back leaning against a fitness ball, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms at your hips.
  • Push the small of your back upward.
  • Hold for several seconds and then return to the starting position.
  • Gradually work up to 10 repetitions.

Consider having someone stand nearby to help prevent you from losing your balance.

( The Third trimester stretches adapted from 3. Mayo Clinic.)

STRETCHING DURING PREGNANCY WHILE SLEEPING

Many moms find themselves waking up throughout the night only to find themselves stretching! It is an unconscious stretch that occurs during sleep. Many moms wonder if stretching during their sleep will harm them or their baby, but if your body is stretching on its own, it is because it needs to be stretched! Do not worry.

STRETCHING FOR SPECIFIC ACHES + PAINS

STRETCHES FOR PELVIC PAIN

Below you will find an awesome video for stretching for pelvic pain during pregnancy. “Demonstration by Chartered Physiotherapist of three types of exercises that can help ease pelvic pain during pregnancy.” (4)

STRETCHES FOR CRAMPS

While pregnant, you may find yourself undergoing cramps in many different areas of your body. The most common complaints about cramps that we hear about are in the legs – you know those nasty charley-horse cramps? Yes, those. Do these stretches daily to help prevent those cramps:

Calf Stretches:
  • Stand a meter from a wall and lean forward with your arms outstretched to touch the wall.
  • Keep the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise for five minutes, three times a day, especially before going to bed.

Daily foot exercises:

  • Bend and stretch each foot vigorously up and down 30 times.
  • Then rotate each foot eight times one way and eight times the other way.

Stretches adapted from Baby Centre (5).

STRETCHES FOR RIB PAIN

During the third trimester is when rib pain kicks into high gear. Your little one is growing bigger and bigger while your frame remains the same size. Do this stretches for rib pain:

“Stand facing a wall. With your feet 40 centimetres from the wall, cross your arms in front of your face. Then lean your crossed arms on the wall sliding them up the wall above your head and stretching yourself up as far as possible. Hold the position for as long as comfortable. This lifts the diaphragm and rib cage up off the uterus and really provides effective, temporary relief, especially if the pain is caused by a breech baby’s hard little head wedged under your ribs.” Belly Belly (7)

STRETCHES FOR HIPS

STRETCHES FOR HIPS
source: https://www.baby-chick.com

The absolute best hip stretch you can do for your body during pregnancy is the butterfly. It’s so simple! It stretches your inner thighs, your groin, and your hips.

  • While sitting on the ground, bring the soles of your shoes together and allow your knees to point outward to each side.
  • Grasping your feet or ankles, draw both heels in as close to your body as is comfortable.
  • Lean forward slightly and hold that position. Focus on taking big deep belly breaths.
  • For an even deeper stretch, press your thighs down with your hands or elbows to bring your knees closer to the ground. Hold that pose and focus on the stretch and your breath.
STRETCHES FOR HIPS: LUNGE
Source: https://www.baby-chick.com

Another great stretch for those hips is the hip flexor stretch.

  • Kneel on your right knee and put your left foot in front of you so your leg forms a right angle.
  • Put your left hand on your left thigh for balance and put your right hand on your right hip or also on your left thigh.
  • Keeping your back straight, lean forward and shift your body weight to the forward leg. You will feel the stretch in the right thigh.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

Found at Baby-Chick (8).

STRETCHES FOR LEGS + STRETCHES FOR LOWER BACK

Here is a great video to guide you through stretching your legs, your hips, and your lower back.

STRETCHES FOR SCIATICA

Follow these steps to help relieve and prevent sciatica pain during pregnancy, found on Healthline (6).

  • Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  • If your left side is affected, put your left ankle on your right knee.
  • Keeping a straight back, lean forward until you feel a stretch through your buttocks.
  • Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat throughout the day.

STRETCHES FOR CONSTIPATION

Often, expectant moms find they are more constipated during pregnancy. Is it a myth that yoga can help relieve constipation? No! There are some definite stretches and yoga poses you can do to relieve constipation during pregnancy.

The Extended Child’s Pose

  • Start by kneeling on your knees, with your knees touching.
  • Sit down so your bottom is touching your feet and your hands are on your knees.
  • Place your hands on the floor in front of you and slowly start to move them forward, lowering your body down until your stomach is on your knees and your arms are stretched out in front of you. Your hands stay touching the floor.
  • Now relax, taking slow deep breaths in and out of your nose.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds and let the weight of your body go so that you are relaxed in this pose, and your knees push into the abdomen to provide relief.
  • Then slowly work your way back up.

Another pose that can help immensely with relieving constipation during pregnancy is the Wind-Relieving Pose.

relieving constipation during pregnancy is the Wind-Relieveing Pose

  • Lie down on the floor, ideally on a mat or towel to protect your back, with your legs, stretched out in front of you and your arms relaxed by your side.
  • Tilt your pelvis or pubic bone upwards so that your spine and tailbone are touching the floor.
  • Bend your right knee and bring it up to your chest.
  • Place both of your hands just below your knee and on top of one another (not on your knee in case of injury).
  • Now pull your shin towards your stomach so that it pushes against your abdomen and helps relieve any unwanted gas, as well as giving it a massage as you breathe.
  • Hold for about 30 seconds before slowly lowering the leg and repeating on the other side.

Constipation-relief poses adapted from Constipation Experts (10).

CAN STRETCHING WHILE PREGNANT HURT THE BABY?

Myths are floating around that stretching while pregnancy can hurt your baby. Is this true? Or is it indeed a myth?

No. This is just a myth. Stretching and doing yoga during pregnancy will not hurt your baby and will only further your attachment, relieve discomfort, and prepare your body for labor. But, you should always check with your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretch routines.

PREGNANCY STRETCHES TO PREPARE FOR LABOR

Throughout the nine months of your pregnancy, we hope you enjoy all of these stretches every day. They will relieve the discomforts that accompany the gift of growing a miracle within your womb, but they will also prepare you and your body for labor. As you near your due date, it’s important that you continue to stretch and build those muscles. You’re going to need strength and stamina for what’s ahead!

Here are two great stretches to aid in preparing you for labor:

Kegel Exercises

You can do Kegel exercises two ways: either by holding or quickly contracting the pelvic floor muscle. To do slow Kegels, contract the pelvic floor muscle and hold for three to 10 seconds. Then relax and repeat up to 10 times. To do fast Kegels, quickly contract and relax your pelvic floor muscle 25 to 50 times. Relax for 5 seconds and repeat the set up to four times. // Parents.com (11)

Kegel Exercises
source: http://s3.amazonaws.com

Squatting

An exercise called a wall slide is especially helpful. Stand with your back straight against a wall, place your feet shoulder width apart and about six inches from the wall, and keep your arms relaxed at your sides. Slowly and gently slide down the wall to a squatting position (keeping your back straight) until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold the position for five to 10 seconds, slowly slide back to a standing position. Repeat five or 10 times. // Parents.com (11)

We hope this post has been a great help to you as you adventure through your pregnancy. If you are not yet pregnant and hoping to conceive soon, there is nothing wrong with starting these stretches early.

 

Sources:

  1. www.fitday.com
  2. www.thepregnancycentre.com
  3. www.mayoclinic.org
  4. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxylVSubq3c
  5. www.babycentre.co
  6. www.healthline.com
  7. www.bellybelly.com
  8. www.baby-chick.com
  9. www.youtube.com
  10. www.constipationexperts.co
  11. www.parents.com


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