Decades ago, it was thought that pregnant women should take it as easy as possible, but now we know that exercising throughout pregnancy provides the mother-to-be with benefits like reducing back pain, lessening the likelihood that you will become constipated, and helping to keep your weight at a healthy level as your pregnancy progresses.
Additional advantages of physical exercise extend all the way to your birth. Exercising during pregnancy lowers your risk for a C-section, as well as conditions like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
One type of movement that’s particularly helpful to expectant moms is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g. Not only does it benefit you to stretch before doing exercises that are especially good for pregnant women — think walking, swimming, and prenatal yoga — but stretching, all by itself, helps you throughout your pregnancy right up through birth.
Dr. Peter Khamvongsa and the Miami Institute for Women’s Health team are committed to your health before, during, and after your pregnancy. Dr. Khamvongsa regularly counsels expectant moms on proper nutrition, exercise, and other habits they can continue or adopt to ensure that they have the healthiest pregnancy and best birth possible.
What’s great about stretching if you’re pregnant
Stretching offers an array of benefits when you’re pregnant, and harmonizes with an overall approach to having a pregnancy filled with healthy activity. These movements warm up and lengthen your muscles and make you more limber.
Benefits of stretching include:
- Lessened back pain
- More flexible muscles and overall looseness, which make you more comfortable
- Improved range of motion
- Good preparation for labor
Your body goes through so many changes during each trimester of pregnancy, including hormonal shifts, weight redistribution, and more. Anything you can do to increase your comfort during pregnancy is a good idea, and stretching is a big one.
A handful of excellent pregnancy stretches
Try these stretches, which are known to be especially helpful for pregnant women:
1. For your neck
Sit in a chair, take a deep breath, and close your eyes. Gently tilt your head to one side toward one shoulder, but don’t raise your shoulder or strain your neck; just let your neck fall naturally. Hold this position for 3-6 seconds.
Then, slowly roll your chin forward and down to rest on your chest, and switch sides. Repeat this stretch three or four times. It’s great for relieving neck tension.
2. For your back
In a kneeling position, place the tops of your feet onto the floor. Place your palms in front of you on an exercise ball. Make sure your hips stay over your knees and exhale while you tuck your chin and use your arms to push the ball outward, away from your body. Move your shoulders away from your ears and arch your lower back comfortably. Hold this position for about 30 seconds.
If it feels like your abdominal muscles are working, adjust your position by bringing your hips back a bit, which relieves pressure. Next, exhale and tuck in your hips as you roll the ball toward you, rising to an upright position with your spine straight.
3. For your legs
As you advance in your pregnancy, your feet and legs come under more stress, and cramps and swelling are common. Try this stretch for relief.
Stand while you hold onto something sturdy, like a chair. Bend your right knee, grasp your right foot with your right hand, and move your heel toward your buttocks. Shift your hips forward but keep your back straight. This will help you feel the stretch even more. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.
These are just a few healthy pregnancy stretches, but others can be found at many sites that are focused on women’s health and pregnancy.
Moving in healthy ways while you’re pregnant, eating well, and getting regular prenatal care all help you to have a healthy pregnancy and good delivery. When you see Dr. Khamvongsa for this care, know you are in the best hands.
Contact our office at 786-220-2184 to schedule an appointment with us if you’re expecting a baby, or if you’re planning on becoming pregnant. You may also book an appointment online with us. For your convenience, we offer appointments until 6pm on Mondays and Thursdays. Many of our team members are also bilingual, and Dr. Khamvongsa is himself fluent in French and Spanish, in addition to English.