Feeling stiff, stressed and it’s like your whole body aches? If the answer is yes, then you need to stretch it out!
We are living in unprecedented times, stress levels are through the roof, we are stuck at home, and everything is cancelled until further notice! Yes, these are difficult times, but you should still try to find some time throughout the day for self-care, to embrace your beautiful body and to connect with your unborn baby. A few minutes of stretching and meditating works wonders!
Stretching offers many benefits for pregnant women. When done on a regular basis, it keeps your muscles loose and eases pregnancy aches and pains. Stretching also enhances your body’s range of motion, it increases your flexibility, and helps you prepare for the rigors of childbirth. And most importantly, it’s a healthy way to relax and release stress!
Here you can find a short, gentle stretching routine which you can follow on a daily basis at the comfort of your home.
Step 1: Find yourself a comfortable spot!
Gather your water bottle, a soft cushion and head to a quiet room in your house. Grab your yoga mat, a large fluffy towel or a carpet. Put on some relaxing music and make yourself comfortable!
Step 2: Connect!
Place your mat/towel or carpet at the center of the room – make sure that you have enough space without hitting anything. Sit comfortably onto your cushion, with your buttocks at the center of the cushion and with your knees apart (N.B. – If you suffer from SPD or lots of pelvic pain, you need to sit onto a low stepping stool, a beanbag or a foot rest, and keep your legs relaxed). Think of your posture, make sure your spine and neck are aligned, chest lifted, shoulders pulled back and looking straight ahead.
Once you’re nice and comfortable, close your eyes! Start by taking a few moments to connect with your body! Place your hands on your baby bump and start by taking long, deep breaths, in through your nose, feeling your chest expanding, and exhale through your mouth. Breathing exercises are very important. It helps you relax, and you would also be pushing some more oxygen to the baby. Stay there for a as long as you can! Think of your little bundle of joy, see if you can feel him or her kicking, and think of how strong you are! Yes, you are!
Step 3 – Get Moving!
Stretching should involve slow and gentle moves, no pain! Try hold each stretch form 15 to 30 seconds. This gives your muscles enough time to relax. Move softly, without bouncing or sharp sudden moves. Remember, your should stop stretching if you’re uncomfortable or in pain.
Whilst still sitting comfortably, start by tilting your head from side to side, imagining that you’re trying to touch your ears to your shoulders (but keep your shoulders relaxed, and your back straight) holding it there for a few seconds as you breath slowly. Try putting your hand onto your head to deepen the stretch. Hold it there for a few seconds and then change side. Repeating it 3 times on each side.
For the second part of this stretch, let your head drop, chin to chest and slowly start rotating your head in a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. Repeat this a couple of times whilst keeping your deep breaths.
Start by lifting both your shoulders up and down slowly, and proceed to rotate your shoulders a couple of times to the front and to the back in a circular, downward movement. Repeat this a few times, then change direction.
Whilst still sitting nice and tall onto the floor, start by placing your left arm on the floor beside you. Inhale and reach your right hand up and over to the left side. Imagine that you are trying to reach the side wall. Drop your head, whilst still looking straight in front of you, keep your chest open, making sure that your arm is not in front of your face, but above your ear. Hold it there for 15-30 seconds. You will feel your right obliques (the muscles on the side of your abdomen) stretching. If you can’t feel the stretch, try reaching a little bit more!
Slowly and gently, move back to center, extending both arms above your head, interlocking both hands and reaching up to the ceiling, stretching your arms and back gently. Hold it there for 10-15 seconds, and slowly shift to stretching your left obliques. Repeat 3 times on each side, stretching up at the center every time you are switching sides.
Whilst keeping your sitting position, with your knees bent to the side, twist your back, by walking both your arms to the left side, placing your right arm next on your left knee and your left arm as far back as possible, palm onto the floor. Twist your head as far back as you can, looking over your left shoulder. If you are doing this correctly, you will feel a gentle stretch in your back. If you can’t feel the stretch, try twisting a little bit more. Hold it for 15 to 30 seconds seconds and switch side. Repeat it 3 times on each side.
For this stretch, you are moving into an ‘all 4’s position’, meaning that you’re onto your hands, and knees. Make sure your knees are at hip-width apart, with the top side of your feet touching the floor; and your hands and in a straight line under your shoulders, shoulder-width apart.
- As you inhale, drop your belly, letting your back arch, but keep your shoulders rolled back and down while looking forward and slightly upward. This is Cow.
- As you exhale, press into your hands and round your upper back, while looking in toward your belly. This is Cat.
- Continue moving on your arch on your inhales and round on your exhales.
- Repeat at least 5 times.
This last stretch, will help gently strengthen your lower back, decrease hip and lower back pain, and help with round ligament pain. In your third trimester, this gentle move also helps a breech baby turn head down, and in a cephalic baby (ie: head down) it will help shift the baby’s back to the front – the ideal position for childbirth!
Step 4 – Finish off!
By now, you should be feeling a million times better and a thousand times calmer. Finish off by returning back to the starting position – sitting onto your cushion, knees bent and arms on your baby bump. Once again you are going to close your eyes, place your hands onto your baby bump and focus on your breathing. With every deep breath in, you going to try pull your abdominal muscles in towards your spine, holding it for a little while and gently releasing it as you exhale. Repeat this around 10 times, and finish off by thanking yourself for finding the time to dedicate a few minutes for yourself and your baby!
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are unsure about any of the above mentioned stretches, or if you need any more advice! We might not be holding our classes, but we are still here for you! Hope to see you soon!