Habits for a better pregnancy and an easier birth
We know what it’s like to feel exhausted, achy, and out-of-sorts in your own body during pregnancy. Trust us, we’ve been there!
But we also know what it’s like to feel vibrant, energetic, and totally comfortable all the way to 42 weeks (!!!) — because we’ve been there, too.
In our own pregnancy journeys and our experience with hundreds of other expecting mamas, we learned that it’s entirely possible to feel at home in your body during your entire pregnancy.
You don’t have to “just deal with” joint pain, restless legs, or constant backaches.
Instead, with a few simple movement tweaks and mindfulness hacks, you can begin to feel more comfortable again…starting today.
Sounds like a dream? We’ll show you how.
Here’s What Every Pregnant Woman Needs To Know
No one’s talking about this in the birth community. But if you want to feel good in your body while pregnant, this topic is critically important. So, let’s talk about the key to a comfortable pregnancy; something we call “functional movement.”
Your daily movement habits are directly impacting the way you feel during pregnancy.
Now, of course, you’ve probably heard plenty of recommendations for soothing pregnancy-related pain—like doing yoga, stretching before bed, or buying fancy prenatal pillows. But we’re guessing that you rarely hear about how to avoid the pain or discomfort in the first place.
The truth is, the way we put away laundry, play with our toddlers, or unload the dishwasher can create a lot of problems if our bodies are out of alignment or not handling our “heavier load” in a functional way.
Think about it: we spend 95% of our day sitting in a desk chair, or driving in the car, or putting away toys in the living room, or lifting things at the grocery store, or leaning over the sink in the kitchen.
And unfortunately, minor misalignment (during any of these activities!) can lead to massive discomfort, create damaging compensation “blind spots,” and make pregnancy downright miserable.
Basically: the way we move through normal life really, really matters.
The good news? With a few small tweaks, you can start to move more functionally—and start to feel stronger, more comfortable, and more resilient.
Even better? You don’t need to spend hours in the gym before you start feeling better. Make these simple at-home tweaks, and start feeling the difference immediately.
Here’s How You Can Practice “Functional Movement” In Your Daily Activities
Many women, when they come to us for a prenatal assessment, are dealing with painful symptoms of misalignment and compensation, like constant backaches, round ligament pain, and core or pelvic floor weakness.
When they put these simple habits into practice, they often experience massive relief within a few days. So, don’t discount the power of small, smart adjustments.
HABIT ONE—GETTING IN AND OUT OF A CHAIR:
Did you know that the way you’re sitting and standing might be contributing to your pelvic floor weakness? Most people get out of their chair using a combination of bringing their knees in front of their ankles and momentum.
However, this movement is the perfect opportunity to use your glutes and lengthen your pelvic floor. (Bonus: lengthening the pelvic floor is an important factor in easier vaginal births!)
In our birth prep protocol inside the One Strong Mama program, one of our main goals is to create a strong and yielding-for-childbirth pelvic floor. And how you get in and out of a chair is a great opportunity to create that space and strength.
To rise: Keep your knees on top of your ankles, lean forward, and send your booty behind you as you rise to stand. If this is too difficult, use a little bit of momentum until it becomes easier. It’s harder than it looks!
To sit: Reach your upper body forward for counterbalance as you reach your booty behind you. Notice if you have the tendency to “fall” after a certain point. This can often be traced back to tension in the hamstring.
HABIT TWO-PICKING THINGS UP:
If you added up the time you spent unloading the dishwasher, pulling clothes out of the laundry, and picking up toys from the floor…you might start to feel like you spend all day bending over and standing back up.
Unfortunately, most of us have picked up the bad habit of rounding the back and tucking the pelvis. This movement “blind spot” leads to back pain (and, additionally, less birth space in the pelvis for baby to come through).
Instead of rounding-and-tucking, practice untucking the booty, lengthening the spine, and hinging at the hips. This will feel foreign at first, but it’s the best way to promote a strong core and pelvic floor.
Plus, picking things up like this will build the muscles in your legs and glutes. These muscles are key to pelvic stability…and with a stable pelvis comes less pelvic pain for mom!
HABIT THREE—GETTING IN AND OUT OF THE CAR:
Sometimes, the simplest movements can create the most discomfort (or, on the flip side, the biggest opportunity for increased comfort!). Many mamas we work with have experienced pelvic or pubic pain, and it often shows up when they’re getting in or out of the car.
Instead of opening your legs to enter and exit your car, we recommend that you practice keeping your legs together and “swinging” them together.
Additionally, when you are in your car, notice if you are sitting with a tucked pelvis (we’ll talk more about this in the next habit!) and see if you can find a better pelvic position which will help with both baby position and pelvic yield—both of which are big contributors to ease of birth!
HABIT FOUR—SITTING POSTURE:
If you’ve experienced hip pain, back aches, or pelvic floor dysfunction, your seated posture is an easy place to start. Finding a neutral pelvis while sitting is extremely beneficial for pelvic floor health and making space in the pelvis for baby, which will help the birthing process.
When you unconsciously tuck your pelvis all day long, it creates a lot of tension in the pelvic floor. And we want that floor to be nice and supple so that a baby can pass through with ease.
Instead of forcing yourself into a neutral pelvic position, use a bolster to adjust your sitz bones up higher and gently relax into a more neutral pelvis.
Also, if you spend much of the day sitting, try to mix up your resting positions. Can you sit on the floor on a bolster? Or adjust your leg position? (Note: avoid crossing your legs as this can put torsion on the pelvis, which can contribute to pelvic pain and can lead to the baby having less space to find an optimal position.)
One Last Recommendation For You:
Feeling overwhelmed? We get it. Being creative about how you use your body takes some thought and intention.
However, once you make a habit out of caring for your body (and your baby!) this way, it becomes second nature. Soon, you’ll find your body getting strong and able just by moving a little bit differently.
As always, we don’t recommend trying to make huge changes all at once. Go slow and make small tweaks here and there, adding in new things every few weeks. Practice varying your movements—from which hip you carry your groceries on, to which hip you carry your baby on.
The power of these small changes will multiply, impacting your core, pelvic floor, and whole body function…and supporting an easier birthing process!