Little C is born. Our horsey boy came into the world on 3 July 2014. And boy did he make a quick galloping entrance. My total labour pushing time was just 11 minutes. This was much faster than E when she took her own sweet time of 30 minutes.
Now, I’m not much of an exercise fanatic. Neither am I a doctor or a fitness expert. However, I do believe the three exercises I did regularly through pregnancy helped in my natural delivery (both times). So this is a cheat sheet for lazy mums – ahem! I mean, busy mums and that would be me!
[Note: Do remember to exercise caution if you exercise while pregnant. Get your obgyn’s permission to do so, exercise within your abilities, and stop immediately if you feel uncomfortable.]
Exercise 1: Pelvic Rocks/Tilts
This exercise helps to: (1) Relieve a sore back by stretching the lower back muscles, (2) Stimulate the digestive system, (3) Tone the abdominal muscles in a safe way and (4) Prepare for the baby’s descent by helping with birth alignment.
I made it a point to do Standing Pelvic rocks while brushing my teeth. The hubby was initially wondering “what the heck?!” but hey, we are all busy. You have to make full use of your time. We brush our teeth at least twice a day so might as well get some exercise in, right?
Here’s how to do it. First, place your feet shoulder width apart. Make sure that your knees are loose and not locked. Use your hands to find the small arch in your lower back. Some people like to do this while standing against a wall. Since I was doing it while brushing my teeth, I did not. If you are standing against a wall, the back of your head, shoulder blades, and tailbone should be touching the wall. Gently, guide your lower back forward, feeling your tailbone slide forward. Next guide your lower back to create an arch, feeling your lower back slide backwards. Only go as far as you are comfortable in each direction, and perform five to 10 repetitions of each pelvic rock. This exercise helped in alleviating my back aches and pains. You can see a picture of this exercise here.
Exercise 2: Hamstring Stretch
This exercise was suggested to me by my jamu lady during a prenatal massage session. The equation for this exercise is such: loose hamstring = relaxed butt = less pain overall (I guess we all carry too much tension in our butt).
For this exercise, you lie on your back and lift the leg (the side you wish to stretch) upwards. Try to extend the leg up to the ceiling (keeping your foot flexed) until you feel a stretch down the back of your thigh. You can hold the leg with your hands or loop a towel around your foot. Slowly bring the knee closer to the chest and and feel the stretch for at least 10 seconds – ensure that your foot remains flexed. The other leg should be extended on the floor. Change legs and repeat each side twice.
I get my hubby involved in this exercise. He helps to make sure my extended foot is flexed and he will slowly ease the leg towards my chest to get the maximum stretch. Bonus intimacy points! I usually do this exercise before I sleep and it definitely resulted in fewer leg cramping episodes during the night.
Exercise 3: Kegels
I first heard of kegels exercise from Samantha in Sex And The City. She swears by its effectiveness in making sure sex will always be enjoyable (and who’d doubt her!). For that reason alone, every woman should and needs to do kegels. There are of course other benefits – doing it strengthens your pelvic floor muscles.
That will help in: (1) Preventing urinary stress incontinence, a condition that affects a shocking 70 per cent of women during or after pregnancy. As if giving birth is not traumatic enough, to have to deal with urinary incontinence would definitely add to the stress. (2) Reducing the risk of anal incontinence, (3) Improving circulation of the vaginal and rectal area. This helps to keep haemorrhoids far away. (4) Making sex more enjoyable as it improves muscle tone of your vagina.
The best thing about kegels? You can do them anytime and anywhere. This also means you have no excuses not to be doing them. When doing kegels, simply imagine yourself stopping your urine midstream. Feel the contraction of your muscle and a slight lift sensation or what is commonly known as “squeeze and lift”. Hold it for 10 seconds (for starters you might find it hard to hold for 10 seconds. It’s okay; start small and work towards a longer timing), then release. Repeat as many times as you want.
+1 Exercise: Walking
In the title, I wrote a “+1” exercise. Technically this is something all of us do everyday already – walking. After I gave birth, I bumped into a neighbour in the lift. The aunty asked about my baby and commented that my delivery must have been pretty smooth and fast. I was a tad taken a back and said, it was okay, pretty fast. She said, should be, since you walk so much (she often sees me walking with either the daughter or the dog or both).
This is not the first time I’ve heard about this. It does seem that if your occupation requires you to be on your feet, chances are, you will be able to deliver naturally and have relatively smoother delivery than women who are desk-bound. So if you are striving for natural delivery, walk, walk and walk.
Hope this little 3+1 exercise guide will help you ladies out there. It certainly did for me!
Jacqueline Chow-Voo is a host, presenter, actress with a Masters degree that comes to nought when tackling matters of motherhood. She is mum to a fiercely independent two-year-old girl whose cheekiness never fails to amuse and a boy whose powerful kicks befit his birth zodic of ‘horse’, and wife to a wonderful husband who constantly tickles her funny bone. Jacqueline is represented by Fly Entertainment.