“Squat 300 times a day, you’re going to give birth quickly.”Ina May Gaskin
My clients hear this quote and look at me like their doula has LOST HER MIND…
The reality about movement in pregnancy is that we want our body to be comfortable with the movements we use in labor and birth BEFORE we are moving through the process.
It’s kind of like downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)… if you’ve ever done yoga you probably remember the first time you attempted this pose. For me, the thoughts that moved through my head were…
“am I doing it right?”
“everything is soooooo tight,”
“oh boy, I just realized I’m holding my breath,”
“I don’t think I can do this much longer”
… I don’t want you to have to move through these same concerns while in labor! It is so important that we move our bodies NOW in ways that prepare us for labor. And if we plan to stretch and move our babies down and out, we should be stretching and moving our bodies in similar ways now.
I love using this example because we need to understand that exercise and movement in pregnancy is all relative. There is no magical exercise that makes us have a fast labor — there are so many factors involved with how our labors play out. If you’ve spent your entire pregnancy sitting behind a desk for 50 hours a week, you probably shouldn’t be starting a 300-squat-per-day regimen in your third trimester. If you’ve been doing CrossFit every day, you should probably focus on learning to relax your pelvic floor. It’s all relative to your lifestyle.
At the very least, we can familiarize our bodies with movements we might use in labor and learn exercises we can do now to encourage optimal positioning. I always suggest my clients check out the Spinning Babies Daily Activities:
(1) Take a brisk walk every day
(2) Forward Leaning Inversion
(3) Be mindful of your maternal positioning — are you sitting and moving in ways that encourages optimal positioning?
(4) Stretch your body
(5) Psoas Release
(6) Hip Openers
(7) Pelvic Tilts
(8) Rest Smart — use pillows when resting to encourage your baby to “hang in your hammock”
(9) Relax what is tight in general
You can read more on the Spinning Babies website about contraindications and detailed instructions. Don’t forget, it never hurts to talk with your care provider before trying new exercises or inversions!