As your body adjusts to the extra weight of a growing baby belly, your balance, posture, and gait can all shift to counteract the change. Stretching during pregnancy can help to alleviate tension in the chest, neck, upper, and lower back caused by these changes. There are a number of safe stretches that can be implemented into your daily routine early on and carried on throughout your pregnancy to help you feel more comfortable.
Because no two pregnancies are alike, always be sure to talk to someone on our team before implementing stretching into your routine to get the approval for physical activity. We also recommend warming up your muscles before starting. This can be as simple as a brisk walk or stepping in place.
Listen to your body and don’t overdo it or push it too hard. If something is uncomfortable, ease up or give another pose a try. Practice safe stretching and avoid deep back stretches like backbends and camel pose. After warming up, give these 5 safe stretches a try.
A growing bump can cause tension in the lower back and sacrum. Pelvic tilts can help ease some of that pressure. This can also help prepare you for the position you’ll be in during birth. You can stand straight against a wall with your feet about 10 inches apart and push the small of your back towards the wall for an easy stretch. You can also get on all fours on a yoga mat, keep your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Try to keep your back flat, take a deep inhale, and tuck your bottom under and tilt your pelvis forward. Take a deep exhale and relax between stretches.
Hip Flexor Stretches
This method to stretch the hip flexors uses stairs or steps. Take hold of the railing and find your place at the bottom of the steps or stairs. Place one foot on the first step and bend into your knee while you keep your back leg straight. Count to 20-30 seconds and switch sides. Repeat this a few times until you start to feel a difference in the tightness.
The windmill stretch is another great pose to help get in a deep stretch for your lower back, bottom, and even your shoulders. Working a windmill stretch into your daily routine could also help prevent sciatica pain. In a standing position, place your feet wider than your hips, keep your arms straight and bring one arm to the ground, in the middle of your feet. Keep the other arm in the air above you. Hold this position for a minute and repeat with the opposite side, alternating a few times.
Leg and Calf Stretches
Many women experience swelling and cramping in their legs and feet during pregnancy. Give your leg and calf muscles some relief with these stretches. Bend your right knee and take that foot in the right hand behind you, bringing it to your bottom. Keep your back straight and press forward to deepen the stretch. Switch sides and repeat with your left leg. Another easy stretch requires a rolled-up towel or foam roller. Place it on the ground in front of you and while you are standing straight, place your toes and front half of one foot on the elevated surface and keep the other foot flat on the ground. Feel that nice calf stretch, hold for 30 seconds and then repeat with the opposite foot.
Chest and Upper Back Stretches
To help relieve the tension in your upper back and chest, try this stretch on your yoga mat. Kneel with the tops of your feet against the mat, take a deep exhale as you sit back on your heels. Round your shoulders, reach your arms in front of you, and allow your head to fall gently forward. Use your butt muscles to help bring you back to your knees as you inhale. Lift your arms to the sides and look overheard and then circle your arms back down and around to the starting position. Reverse this stretch in the opposite direction and repeat a few times until you feel the tension ease.
Talk to A Midwife
At City of Oaks Midwifery, we believe in caring for the whole woman in all stages of her life. If you have any questions about practicing safe stretches during pregnancy, we are here to help. Call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.