Three decades ago Janet Balaskas introduced the western world to exercises during pregnancy and to the concept of being upright during birth. It was an exciting and revolutionary time in changing how we viewed pregnancy and birth.
In our 1980's antenatal classes we began to get women off their backs - yes, the first antenatal class I took in the 70s, women lay on their backs for over half the hour long class, to learn about relaxation. Teaching stretches during pregnancy in preparation for an upright birth, enabled women to gain knowledge and confidence and to have more say in how they gave birth.
Today pregnancy yoga is a wonderful preparation for childbirth, offering both physical and mindfulness skills.
Stretching muscles and soft tissue at anytime in your life will ....
* release muscle tension
* balance left and right side muscle groups
* correct poor posture
* prevent chronic dysfunction.
Regular stretching during pregnancy can maintain good body alignment and posture, minimising stress on muscles and joints.
The joints in your lower spine and pelvis cop a lot of this stress, and in particular, the sciatic nerve, which you often feel as a pain in your butt!
This can be well managed by simple stretches, awareness of posture, heat packs and a comfortable flexible pregnancy support belt worn when necessary.
Try these 4 stretches, see what feels right for you. Focus on your breath, keeping it slow and rythmic.
Always work within your comfort range. Pregnancy is not a time to push limits, master the splits or one leg balances.
1 Single leg hugs are great for stretching your lower back and the sciatic nerve as well as gently adjusting your sacro -iliac joints at the back of your pelvis.
Do this before you hop out of bed in the morning and mid or late afternoon. 3 times each side.
If you are experiencing SPD - pain in the joint at the front of your pelvis, only do double knee hugs, and always check with your physiotherapist, osteopath or chiropractor, if you have pain in this joint.
2 Double knee hugs release a lot of tension in your low spine, essential after a days work.
Repeat two times holding each stretch for as long as you feel comfortable, 30 seconds or more.
3 Use a wall, table or kitchen bench to hold as you stretch out your hamstrings ( back of your thigh), butt/ low back and across your shoulders.
Your baby likes these forward postures after a day of being 'held' by your tummy muscles; and the muscles down the back of your body will enjoy a long stretch out.
Do this once a day, or more if you find it is just what you need to to do to relieve tired cramped muscles. Hold 20 -30 seconds.
4 Sit in a chair and place your left foot on top of your right thigh close to your knee, lean forward a little and feel a stretch in your upper thigh. If this feels OK and you would like to take it a step further, place your arms up a wall and lean into this delicious stretch.
Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you are enjoying it.
This stretch is also a great way of helping sciatic nerve pain, releasing tension in adductor muscles, one side at a time, as well as an upper body stretch.
Put these 4 Stretches into your day - whether you are working full time or have a toddler or two. It will be the perfect mini break to refresh you.