Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bradley Birth: Exercises



Bradley Classes are all about preparing you for labor. Just like you would not show up to run a marathon having not trained and prepared yourself, you should not show up to labor without utilizing the time before to prepare. One big thing they emphasis is regular exercise and pregnancy exercises. Here are the exercises and recommendations:

- Regular Exercise:
They recommend continuing regular physical exercise during pregnancy (as long as your doctor has not limited your activity because of issues). Ultimately 30 minutes a day.

- Pregnancy Exercises:
These exercises are designed to specifically prepare the areas of the body used during labor. They also help minimize most of the common pregnancy discomforts.

1. Tailor Sitting: It encourages the uterus to move forward instead of bearing down on the pelvis. Basically this is sitting on the floor with your legs crossed or feet touching soul to soul. Remember good posture and to change your position often. In pregnancy you should not stay in the same position for long periods of time. You can lean back on something or lean forward on your legs. This exercise is recommended "often" instead of a set period of time a day.

2. Squatting: Squatting naturally puts the body in the right position to put pressure on the uterus, it prevents arching the back which is bad for pushing, shortens the birth canal and increases the pelvic opening. It stretches the perineum (helping to prevent episiotomies- which is when they cut a woman to 'prevent' tearing) and shortens second stage labor (with is the pushing stage). Sign me up! haha!

Basically start in a standing position with legs apart. Then bend the knees and tucks your hips under. Stay down in the position for a few moments, trying to have the feet flat on the floor. You made need to practice this one for awhile before your feel will go flat. And you may want to hang on to something for balance. They recommend doing this "often" also. You should stop bending over at the hip, and instead squat to get things or get down.

3. Pelvic Rocking: This one is supposed to give you more benefits than any of them. It tones the ab muscles and the lower back. It is supposed to relieve pressure on the lower back, uterus and bladder, increases circulation, relieve general tension and improve digestion. It helps the baby come forward and relieve pressure.

Get down on hands and knees and relax your lower back. Tuck your pelvis and hips under then release them back to the starting position. Most of the movement should be in the hips and lower back, not arching your back up and down. They say start these slowly and work your way up to 4 sets of 40 a day plus 80 just before bed. Sound like a lot? It is : ) Lets hope they are worth it!

4. Butterfly: This one tones your abductor muscles (outer muscles on your thighs) and helps you pull your legs back easier during pushing. It also reduces the shaky legs after labor.

Sit on the floor leaned back against something with your knees up and together with feet flat on the floor. Have the "coach" place their hands on the the outside of the knees and apply some pressure. The woman should open her legs and push knees to the floor, keeping the feet touching (soul to soul), while the coach gives her some resistance to push through. Then return to starting point and do again.

5. Kegel: Doing your kegels helps you improve the pelvic floor muscle tone. This helps you avoid wetting your pants when coughing or sneezing (common in pregnancy and after), discomfort, lack of sensation during sex, unusual pain during labor, and a long pushing stage of labor.

Best way to describe this one is to imagine you are peeing and you make yourself stop. The muscle you pull in to hold your pee in- thats your kegel. To work it out, pull it in then release. At first just work on pulling the muscle in 100 times a day. Then work on pulling it in and letting it go intentionally (before it will let itself go until you build it up some) 100 times a day. After that work on doing this 200 times and day and holding it in longer.

These exercises take time, but I think they are more than worth it. A lot of the prolonged labor and pain in labor we see today is because the areas of the body we are using are not used to it at all. That makes total sense to me. Have any of you every done any of these exercises or do you know other ones that help during pregnancy?

Ill keep you posted on how these help me out as I go. I have not been very uncomfortable in pregnancy yet and have had little to no back pain, but I have a ways to go so we shall see...


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