Rossato-Bennett concurs. "Twenty-five or 45 Kegels, three times a day will make a huge difference in your recovery post-partum. Pelvic floor muscle tone is also beneficial in the last weeks of pregnancy when some women experience incontinence," she adds.
Squat, Sit, and Tilt
Consider adding squatting, tailor sitting, and pelvic tilts to your Kegel routine.
Practice squatting by standing against a doorframe or wall with your feet shoulder-width apart, about six to 12 inches from the wall. Slowly slide down to a seated position. Hold for five to 10 seconds and repeat.
To tailor sit, position yourself on the floor with your back straight in the "butterfly position" (put the bottoms of your feet together and let your knees drop comfortably). Gently press both knees to the floor with your elbows. You'll notice a stretch in your inner thighs. Keep steady pressure and don't bounce your knees up and down. If you find it difficult at first to keep your back straight, use a wall to support your back. Hold the position for 10 or 15 seconds and repeat the stretch 5 or 10 times.
Do pelvic tilts (the cat stretch) by starting with your hands and knees on the floor. Find a comfortable posture and keep your head in line with your back. Pull in your abdominals and arch your back upward. Hold this position for several seconds. Then relax your stomach and back. Keep your spine flat and don't let your stomach sag. Repeat three to five times. Slowly work your way up to 10 repetitions.
Get Your Beauty Rest
"During the last few weeks of pregnancy, make sure to sleep as much as you can," Rossato-Bennett recommends. "Being well rested will make a difference in your stamina during labor." Early in your pregnancy, try to adopt the habit of sleeping on your left side. It may help alleviate discomforts later in the pregnancy, allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Relax Your Body and Mind
Cutting out caffeine, avoiding strenuous exercise close to bedtime, performing yoga or meditation, taking a warm bath, and practicing breathing techniques are all helpful if you are having difficulties falling asleep. If fear and anxiety are keeping you awake, look for a childbirth or parenting class in your area. Acquiring more knowledge and enjoying the company of other pregnant women may help you to dispel fears that may be preventing sleep.
During pregnancy, learn to listen to your body's cues and strive to take a preventative approach to caring for yourself. Follow this old runner's adage: "Eat before you're hungry, sleep before you're tired, cool down before you're hot, warm-up before you're cold." And be sure to pace yourself: this race is nine months long.