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Preparing your body for labour and delivery in third trimester

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Third trimester. The ‘home stretch’ which indicates that the mummy is getting closer to meeting the little human who has been taking on some real estate on her inside.

While you count down the days until ‘show-time’, prepare your baby’s room, stock up on newborn diapers, pack hospital bags, and interpret (or misinterpret) any little twinge as time to head to the hospital, it is essential to also prepare the physical body for the hard work of labour and delivery.

One of the biggest mistakes most pregnant woman make as they approach the end of their pregnancy would be to reduce their level of physical activity. For one, the working pregnant woman is advised/expected to begin her maternity leave any time from 30weeks, and that has a significant impact on her daily energy expenditure, all other things being equal. Plus, pregnancy on its own is expectedly exhausting, increasingly so as the bump gets bigger, making that couch and bed even more inviting. Add a few ‘snacks’ and favourite TV series for good measure, and we are possibly looking at a Pregnancy ‘Wakanda’, the perfect place for pregnant women.

The result? The weight stays piling up, and so does the weight of the baby, and the muscles too miss out on the opportunity to be prepared for labour.

This was my first pregnancy reality. Even my ObGyn was surprised at how fast the scale kept going up at every appointment, until I eventually hit 111kg at term from 76kg.

The third trimester is a tricky one, yet a very important one, which can impact very significantly on the delivery process and the size of the baby. It may feel awkward doing any form of exercise beyond rolling out of bed, but it is highly recommended if one is at all able to. Results have shown that even for previous non-exercisers, beginning a strategic workout routine in third trimester provides some benefits to the Mother and Baby. The goal of exercising in pregnancy is not weight loss but rather to enjoy optimum health through pregnancy, get the body better prepared for labour, and fast tracking the body’s return to shape after delivery.

In third trimester, workouts that especially target the pelvic region help open up and strengthen those hip and pelvic muscles. Muscles get stronger and more flexible with use, which will prove highly beneficial in labour, a life event that is hard work, just as the name implies. It makes for a better labour experience when muscles involved have not been lying dormant. So move more, dance more (and when you go down low, be sure to bend from the knee and not the waist), use the stairs more, and if possible, engage in some prenatal workouts at an intensity that can be handled.

Some of the workouts that are safe and effective would be Squats, especially Sumo squats. That gravity helps the pelvic region to open up, allowing it to engage in preparation for labour. Squats can be tricky though, as if done incorrectly could lead to lower back, or pelvic pain. The spine is meant to be as straight as possible as the woman goes down slowly. It’s form over speed. Lunges are another beautiful prenatal workout to do in third trimester. Static lunges are especially safer for balance, but if the forward lunges are appealing, then hold on to the wall or an object to keep from falling.

Walking regularly works, as gravity and motion helps the baby to put more pressure on the cervix and encourage dilatation. This can certainly speed up the labour process in most women who are term, that is 37weeks and above. Which is why doctors sometimes advise a woman going overdue (over 40weeks) to take long walks.

Plus, these exercises also help you burn some extra calories, thereby impacting the mother’s weight and by extension, baby’s weight.Ideally, working out five times a week for 45minutes is all a pregnant woman needs to enjoy the benefits of exercising. Staying hydrated all the time is also advisable, especially in periods of increased physical activity, whether indoors or outdoors.Above all, safety is key. Be sure to listen to your body over and above anything else. If unsure or in increased pain, please stop completely, or slow things down.


In this article:
Eziaha Bolaji-Olojo
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