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Pregnancy Exercises to Make You Fit for Delivery

Know thy abdominals

Strong abdominals are a must for pushing. Situps and crunches are the exercises most women associate with abdominal strength, but it's not safe to do them during pregnancy. They put too much stress on your rectus abdominis (the outermost muscle that runs from your breast bone to your pubic bone), and that muscle is the primary support system for your back. The rectus abdominis is divided vertically into two halves which tend to separate slightly during pregnancy anyway -- a common condition caused by your expanded uterus and referred to as diastasis -- and situps or crunches could aggravate this and cause you more back pain. In contrast, the first three exercises here work the all-important transverse abdominis and help to reduce diastasis. All four of the muscles in the abdominal group (the rectus abdominis, the external obliques, internal obliques, and the transverse abdominis) are important, but it's the transverse abdominis that most needs strengthening for labor. This is the muscle we feel when we breathe, sneeze, or cough. It is the deepest abdominal muscle, wrapping around the middle of the abdomen and the back. If you place your hands on your belly -- one above and one below the belly button -- and take a big breath, you can feel your transverse muscle going out and then in, forward and then backward. It constricts and compresses the abdominal cavity like a girdle, and that's exactly what you need to do to push the baby out.

Click ahead for Four exercises that will ease labor

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