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  • Dr. Katie O'Connor

A Belly in Motion. 5 ways to move your body during pregnancy for a healthy birth and babe!

If you're alive and breathing right now then it should come as no surprise that movement is really good for your body. Especially at this time of year, everyone is hitting the gym, making weight loss resolutions and thinking more about fitness then they will most likely for the rest of the year.

But you're pregnant, so what does this mean for you? Is it a free pass to sit cozily on your couch and incubate your growing belly? Should you feel guilty for not being that yoga chick or the running pregnant mom who barely looks pregnant? How does movement fit in to pregnancy and what should you really be doing?

As it does turn out, movement of many kinds can be very important during this amazing time. The benefits of getting moving can range from lowering blood pressure, improving circulation, decreasing seasonal depression to helping the baby position properly, toning up the pelvic floor for labor and readying the body for supporting this new life! That being said, you don't have to buy new running shoes, join a yoga gym or dust off your old weight set...unless you want to. During pregnancy our focus needs to shift from an ideal of how we should look or a fitness level to hit to how we can help ourselves feel comfortable, help our babies best grow, and allow the birth process to become easy.

5 Ways of Using Motion to Improve Pregnancy and Birth

1. Take a Walk - This should be easy and fun, not a chore or a workout. Just 30 minutes per day will not only help you to increase your circulation, clear the mind and get some endorphins, it will also help you prepare for labor! When we take full, good strides we lengthen a muscle called the psoas, which if too tight can prevent the baby from descending easily, but if nice and loose will allow for a much easier labor progression! This walk should be brisk, but not taxing. Keep strides long but be sure you can still carry on a conversation.

2. Create Pelvic Motion - We spend a lot of time in our daily lives sitting or basically standing still. This can lead to a lack of mobility in the pelvis, which can lead to discomfort during pregnancy such as pubic symphysis pain, and also to a slower more difficult labor. The easiest way to add more motion is by spending some time sitting on a large exercise ball. Sit up with a straight back so that you can feel baby's weight in the abdomen. You don't have to work hard to create big movements here, although you can for a little while. The idea is to help open motion, while strengthening important support muscles which will help in the third trimester and through delivery!

3. Stretch - Gently! Stretching is important during this time but it's really important to keep in mind that our ligaments are now starting to stretch much easier than they once had. We have to be gently to find a balance of stretching muscles without overstretching our ligaments and causing pain. Finding a prenatal yoga class can be one easy way. Otherwise you can visit Spinning Babies for more recommended stretches.

4. Supported Squats - Grab a partner for this one! Reaching out in front like a handshake cross one arm over the other and have your partner do the same before you each grasp each her by the wrist. That way you're held tightly. Making sure your partner is leaning back against your weight slowly drop your booty backwards as if you are going to sit in a chair or on the toilet. This isn't the same a a squat you would do when working out, but more to open and tone the pelvic floor. It's a very dropped back, deep squat. Hold for as long as is comfortable and repeat 1-5 times per day.

5. Swimming - Feeling like a whale? Take some weight off by getting into pool. You don't have to do laps, simply getting into a pool and moving around can be great for a tight, sore body. Hot tubs should be used only if they are warm, not hot. Relax, move slowly and enjoy the weightless feeling. If you enjoy swimming, feel free to do whatever stroke feels best and simply swim for leisure or even do some laps.

It's time to get that baby belly into motion! So don't stress, don't compare and don't create expectations. But do enjoy yourself, do think about what feels good for your body, and do think about what will be best for your baby and her birth.

Dealing with pains during pregnancy that keep you from moving as much? Many women deal with back pain, sciatica, pubic bone pain, round ligament pain, headaches and much more during pregnancy. If this is you or you simply want to be guided through a more motion filled healthy pregnancy and delivery we highly recommend seeking out a qualified prenatal chiropractor near your. Look for one that holds a certification in the Webster Technique.

Dr. Katie O'Connor is the expert prenatal chiropractor at Life Naturally Chiropractic, an Orland Park, Illinois based chiropractic office specializing in the care of women before during and after pregnancy. Contact Dr. Katie O’Connor at Life Naturally Chiropractic for more information today.

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