Attend a Class
Fitness is key to good health during pregnancy. If you have time for exercise classes, Rossato-Bennett recommends prenatal yoga. "After witnessing many births I can see the difference in women who have taken yoga classes during pregnancy," she reports. One reason yoga is recommended for optimal prenatal health is that it is based on breathing.
When it comes to labor and delivery, breathing is paramount. "Being aware of your breath and using your breathing to conquer pain and stretch your body's limits are essential skills during labor," adds Rossato-Bennett.
Other good forms of prenatal exercise include swimming, walking, dancing, light weightlifting, and low-impact aerobics. Always check with your doctor before beginning any pregnancy fitness routine.
Get Active Daily
Some women, pregnant or not, can't seem to find time in their busy schedules for exercise. Rossato-Bennett suggests several things women can incorporate into their day-do-day routines to help prepare their bodies for the trials of labor.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can.
- Take a 10-minute walk once a day.
- If you sit at a desk for work, make sure to get up and walk around the office once an hour. If you stand at work, make sure to sit down once an hour.
- Always sit up straight. "Do not slouch!" Rossato-Bennett advises. "Being aware of your posture will help prevent a poorly positioned fetus when labor starts."
Keep up with Kegels
In addition, several simple but important exercises can be done just about anywhere. Doctors, doulas, and midwives alike recommend one in particular: Kegel exercises. "Pelvic floors lifts, (Keigels, or bondas in yoga) are extremely important for a pregnant woman," says Carmela Cattuti, LPN, and certified yoga instructor with a private practice in Boston. "They strengthen and open the pelvic floor for delivery. They also assist the woman in getting back into shape quicker."