Exercise and natural childbirth? — The Bump
Natural Birth

Exercise and natural childbirth?

So, I know that exercise should be an integral part of ones lifestyle whether or not you're pregnant, but it seems especially important during pregnancy. I didn't do much of anything during the first tri b/c or morning sickness and then moving into the second tri, I got hit with a bout of vertigo and was debilitated for a good two weeks. I started using a prenatal exercise DVD (the complete pregnancy workout) around 21w. I really enjoy it and feel so good afterwards, but I am not the most consistent. I worked out fairly regularly up until a few months before finding out I was pregnant, so I'm not in horrible shape. What I was wondering is how much exercise you tend to do throughout pregnancy? Do you think you benefited a great deal from it? Also, if any of you skipped exercise during one pregnancy and started during another, did you notice a significant difference in how quickly labor progressed for you and in your ability to deliver you baby? Thanks so much in advance to everyone who responds! I love hearing about other peoples experiences as it helps me to better prepare myself!
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Re: Exercise and natural childbirth?

  • I absolutely think exercise contributed to having a really easy pregnancy and delivery (luck helped too, I'm sure.)

    My OB said to aim for 200 minutes/week so that's what I did. I continued my running routine through 16 weeks when I developed sciatica, but it went away a few weeks later and I continued a walking/running regimen. I also took prenatal yoga. At 39 weeks, I got a little crazy, trying to log 100 minutes of walking daily. But -- I went into labor on my due date and DD was born nine hours and no drugs later.
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  • I didn't really do much formal exercise, but took a stroll almost every day up until I had DD.  I'm not sure exercise helps so much with the labor part, but I think it does with pushing.  Pushing is hard work and I think the better prepared you are the easier it is.   
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  • I think exercise helped me cope with pregnancy (more muscles to carry the extra weight), labour (I birthed in a yoga pose!), and recovery. I lifted weights to 34 weeks and walked/swam/did yoga to the end. I definitely think it was worth the effort - I only did around half an hour a day, not every day.
  • It certainly can't hurt but I don't know that there's always a direct correlation.  I watched a lot of baby shows before I got pregnant and some of the most out of shape people had easy labors while the ones who were very fit had a hard time.  There are just so many other factors that play into it. 

    I was in fairly good shape before getting KU but I never really made it a point to exercise regularly during my pregnancy.  I just continued my normal daily activities and I actually relaxed a lot during third tri.  I had an extremely easy pregnancy and delivery was fast.  My labor only lasted 6.5 hours and I pushed with 2-3 contractions.

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  • I think exercise is great during pregnancy for many reasons.  I worked out pretty hard-core with #1 up until my 40w appointment (cardio classes, lifting weights, yoga, etc).  I ended up with a c/s for that birth, go figure.  My last pregnancy I rarely worked out except for chasing around DS, but got my VBAC.  My point is not to discourage you from working out of course, but to show that you can do everything "right" and things don't always go as planned.  I'm sure if I had an easy labor like I did with my VBAC the first time, I would have chalked it up to exercise, but now I know it's not that black and white.  So I would encourage working out, but don't beat yourself up if you don't get in as many workouts as you would like every week.
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  • imagekatcarls:

    It certainly can't hurt but I don't know that there's always a direct correlation.  I watched a lot of baby shows before I got pregnant and some of the most out of shape people had easy labors while the ones who were very fit had a hard time.  There are just so many other factors that play into it.

    That actually is a good point. I just usually hear being in shape can really help, especially when it comes to pushing that baby out. I haven't seen any baby shows since I've been pregnant though. Nice that you had an easy labor and delivery, I'm def hoping for the same!

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  • imagechicsub:
    I think exercise is great during pregnancy for many reasons.  I worked out pretty hard-core with #1 up until my 40w appointment (cardio classes, lifting weights, yoga, etc).  I ended up with a c/s for that birth, go figure.  My last pregnancy I rarely worked out except for chasing around DS, but got my VBAC.  My point is not to discourage you from working out of course, but to show that you can do everything "right" and things don't always go as planned.  I'm sure if I had an easy labor like I did with my VBAC the first time, I would have chalked it up to exercise, but now I know it's not that black and white. 

    Similar to PP. It's hard to think that everything could be going well during pregnancy w/ you doing all the "right things" and you still might end up w/ the dreaded c-sec. And I think you're right about associating an easy labor and deliver w/ exercise if everything had gone as planned the first time around. It's good advice to do what you can but not to be too hard on yourself if you don't do as much as you'd like.

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  • Even if you end up with a c-section, wouldn't life likely be easier if you had the upper body strength to lift your baby and yourself? I don't think exercise can guarantee a wonderful delivery, but it can definitely make pregnancy and recovery better. I stand by that 100%.

    The uterus does the actual pushing, after all, and I didn't work that at the gym.

  • imageelektra1835:
    imagekatcarls:

    It certainly can't hurt but I don't know that there's always a direct correlation.  I watched a lot of baby shows before I got pregnant and some of the most out of shape people had easy labors while the ones who were very fit had a hard time.  There are just so many other factors that play into it.

    That actually is a good point. I just usually hear being in shape can really help, especially when it comes to pushing that baby out. I haven't seen any baby shows since I've been pregnant though. Nice that you had an easy labor and delivery, I'm def hoping for the same!

    I haven't seen any baby shows but have anecdotally heard the same thing.

    I think one of the most important things during your pregnancy is to listen to your body and to follow its cues. If you weren't a marathon runner pre-pregnancy then during pregnancy is not the time to start it up.

    I'm not hugely fit, but I'm active throughout the day, mostly due to being a drama teacher. So up until i stopped worked (around 36 weeks) I was up and down off the floor, and walking all day. Plus doing some gardening and walking the dogs.

    The constant urge to pee made my walks shorter and shorter as the weeks progressed. 

    I had an easy 7 hour labour with no drugs.

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  • imageelektra1835:
    imagekatcarls:

    It certainly can't hurt but I don't know that there's always a direct correlation.  I watched a lot of baby shows before I got pregnant and some of the most out of shape people had easy labors while the ones who were very fit had a hard time.  There are just so many other factors that play into it.

    That actually is a good point. I just usually hear being in shape can really help, especially when it comes to pushing that baby out. I haven't seen any baby shows since I've been pregnant though. Nice that you had an easy labor and delivery, I'm def hoping for the same!

    I haven't seen any baby shows but have anecdotally heard the same thing.

    I think one of the most important things during your pregnancy is to listen to your body and to follow its cues. If you weren't a marathon runner pre-pregnancy then during pregnancy is not the time to start it up.

    I'm not hugely fit, but I'm active throughout the day, mostly due to being a drama teacher. So up until i stopped worked (around 36 weeks) I was up and down off the floor, and walking all day. Plus doing some gardening and walking the dogs.

    The constant urge to pee made my walks shorter and shorter as the weeks progressed. 

    I had an easy 7 hour labour with no drugs.

    image
    Elizabeth 5yrs old Jane 3yrs old
    image


  • imagetokenhoser:

    Even if you end up with a c-section, wouldn't life likely be easier if you had the upper body strength to lift your baby and yourself? I don't think exercise can guarantee a wonderful delivery, but it can definitely make pregnancy and recovery better. I stand by that 100%.

    The uterus does the actual pushing, after all, and I didn't work that at the gym.

    I definitely agree with this.  I did yoga and took a walk almost every day (so not heavy-duty working out, but I was active) until the night before DD was born.  I think that's a good part of the reason that I had relatively few aches and pains and I slept like a baby through my whole pregnancy.

    I also think my recovery would have been relatively easy, but I ended up with an injury to my pelvis that made moving and walking difficult for about six weeks pp.

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  • If only my arms could have been more helpful during recovery from my abdominal surgery!  :)  Like I said, I don't think working out is a bad thing, but my recovery this time was 100% easier and I didn't work out. 
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  • Just wanted to weigh in with my personal experience.

     I was training for a marathon when I got pregnant, and was doing 15 mile long runs on the weekends.  During the pregnancy I dropped back to 3-5 mile runs 5 days a week and eventually switched to walking for the last 8 weeks (still 3-5 miles a day).  My L&D experience was less than ideal, and I ended up with a very long painful back labor that lasted for 65 hours.  I pushed for 2 and ended up w/ a c/s.

    In the end, I don't think that working out will make labor and delivery easy.  I do think that being in some sort of physical shape is good though, and will hopefully make it more likely for you to have the stamina to labor longer, if need be.  I think that I would have given up a lot sooner if I hadn't been in good shape.   

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  • Just getting to & from work, and doing my job gives me 20-40 minutes of walking per day M-F. I did prenatal yoga on Sundays for 12 weeks, need to be more consistent about doing it at home now that my class is over - I have a DVD. I worked out a lot leading up to my wedding & conceived only a month later so I'm a FTM mom but I think I'm getting a reasonable amount of exercise in. The midwives are happy with it when I tell them. Hopefully I'll be in good shape for the labor - I can tell you in 2 months!
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  • imageILoveRunning:

    Just wanted to weigh in with my personal experience.

     In the end, I don't think that working out will make labor and delivery easy.  I do think that being in some sort of physical shape is good though, and will hopefully make it more likely for you to have the stamina to labor longer, if need be.  I think that I would have given up a lot sooner if I hadn't been in good shape.   

    I can def see exercise giving a woman the stamina needed to get through a rough physical experience, in particular, labor and delivery. I'm sorry about your L&D experience, but it sounds like you did everything you could. You're a strong woman... I'm sure that I wouldn't be able to last half as long as you did if I were in the same situation!

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  • imageelektra1835:
    imageILoveRunning:

    Just wanted to weigh in with my personal experience.

     In the end, I don't think that working out will make labor and delivery easy.  I do think that being in some sort of physical shape is good though, and will hopefully make it more likely for you to have the stamina to labor longer, if need be.  I think that I would have given up a lot sooner if I hadn't been in good shape.   

    I can def see exercise giving a woman the stamina needed to get through a rough physical experience, in particular, labor and delivery. I'm sorry about your L&D experience, but it sounds like you did everything you could. You're a strong woman... I'm sure that I wouldn't be able to last half as long as you did if I were in the same situation!

    LOL, I'm not so sure that I am strong, more like very, very stubborn :). I'm also not too beat up about my experience. It really sucked at the time, but now that I have had time to reflect on it, I am ok with it. I chalk it up as another life experience. I think that the most important thing to remember is that your body can do amazing things, regardless of how much you exercise. Good luck!
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  • i believe that exercise played a huge role in the differences between my two labors. i exercised in my second pregnancy, but not much at all in my first. i felt much more fluid and healthy going into the second labor than i did the first time. 

    i didn't do hard core exercise, just walking, swimming and stretching. 

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  • If nothing else, being fit and healthy will make you more confident in your body. Better to head into labor feeling like a bad a$$ mama! 
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