7-Week Exercise Guide to a Better Birth

with 3 Comments

In my doula course, I teach specific exercises to help prepare for an easier birth.  These exercises are designed to increase the strength and function of the muscles utilized in birth and to optimize the birthing space.  To help with our New Year’s goals for a healthier pregnancy and an easier birth, I am including an 7-week exercise guide which incorporates these exercises.

What exercises are included and why?

Walking is one of the best exercises that anyone can do including pregnant women.  It is cheap, requires no extra equipment, and helps strengthen and stretch the muscles needed to provide your baby with the space he/she needs to get into the best position before and during labor.  It also provides your body with the movements it needs to keep all systems healthy and strong as your baby is growing.

Hamstring stretches help stretch the muscles needed to open up the birthing space.  While this may seem strange, our muscles are all connected in a way that requires us to keep these muscles supple and strong to fully support a pregnancy.

Prepping for squats and other alternative birthing positions not only increases your stamina during labor, but it also helps those pelvic floor muscles open up your birthing space and bring in oxygenation and nutrients to the muscles that will be working the hardest.

7-Week Exercise Guide to a Better Birth (see below for pictures on how to do the stretches)

Week 1

Walking frequency: 10-15m/day

Stretching: 10m hamstring stretch

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day

Week 2

Walking frequency: 10-15m/day

Stretching: 10m hamstring stretch; 5m hands and knees

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day;

Week 3

Walking frequency: 20-30m/day

Stretching: 5m hamstring stretch: 10m hands and knees

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day;

Week 4

Walking frequency: 20-30m/day

Stretching: 5m hamstring stretch: 5m hands and knees; 5m squat with a towel between your knees

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day;

Week 5

Walking frequency: 30-45m/day

Stretching: 5m hands and knees; 10m squat with a towel between your knees

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day; stretch your hamstrings throughout the day as you are doing your daily routine

Week 6

Walking frequency: 30-45m/day

Stretching: 10m squat with a towel between your knees; 5m squat with the towel under your heels

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day; stretch your hamstrings throughout the day as you are doing your daily routine

Week 7

Walking frequency: 40-60m/day

Lifestyle Changes: Drink 8 glasses of water/day; stretch your hamstrings throughout the day as you are doing your daily routine; squat instead of sitting throughout the day

Description of Stretches

Squat with towel between legs. Make sure feet are straight forward(I slipped in this picture, so don’t follow my example:)). Make sure your back is straight. If you can’t keep it straight, then go back to the hands and knees stretch for a while.
Squat with towel under heels. You can give up the towel once you can keep your balance in the right position.
Make sure your back is straight and your shins are shoulder width apart. Lean back into the stretch.
Hamstring stretch. Keep legs shoulder width apart and back as straight as possible.
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3 Responses

  1. Janessa
    | Reply

    I have a couple questions. When something says 8 glasses, is that understood as 8 oz, or some other measurement? And do you stay in the hamstring stretch for the full 10 min? Or is it stretch, rest, stretch? Thanks!

    • Rachel
      | Reply

      Yes, a glass equals 8 oz of water. Most women don’t really measure that, so I don’t state that up front. As far as the time, you really should be stretching throughout the day, not necessarily all at one time. I am probably going to re-work this exercise, so check back in a few months. Feel free to ask any questions for now though.

  2. Janessa
    | Reply

    Thank you!

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