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Getting in shape for Homebirthing

610 Views 19 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  ErinBird
I just wanted to ask everyone what you did to get yourself in shape for a homebirth. Although I'm thin, I'm woefully out of shape since I stopped working six months ago (working retail I probably walked 5 miles a day in the store
). I know homebirthing takes a lot more stamina than I think I have right now. What are some ways you girls got yourself prepared? Did you find that adrenaline and eating carried you through most of labor? I would like to take a yoga class, but I live in the middle of nowhere and there's nothing like that remotely close.
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Thought I'd jump in here even though I'm not home birthing

If you're interested in yoga you can always get a video. Your local library should have something, or you may be able to get a video through interlibrary loan. I would not recommend buying a video right off unless you know what it's like... I bought two before I realized they both stink and I need to take my own advice
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I've never home birthed before, but I have gone through many hours of labor with my first birth-- so I was VERY concerned about having the strength to get through this one.

I am taking a prenatal yoga class right now which absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE! I can only afford one class a week, so I bought Shiva Rae's prenatal yoga DVD from Gaiam to practice at home. I haven't used it yet, but it came highly recommended from other pg mamas. I'm mostly concerned with strengthening my body (AND mind) and I think yoga is a great way to do it.

Also, start your squats! LOL! My old roommate had a homebirth and her midwife had her practicing her squats every night. I really should start doing them that often myself . . .


It may not be the most ideal exercise, but I'm doubling up. Dh and I are walking. There's a park with nice nature paths nearby and we've been going there a couple times a week. I missed out the past couple of weeks though due to exams and a nasty cold and just feeling crappy.

The nature walks are importnat for me because in addition to providing exercise it helps combat my depression, which is actually mostly under control at the moment after feeling really crazed for couple of weeks. The differnece is all int he walking.

I'd like to do yoga or something, but I can't afford a class and a video or something would just not provide the relaxation value that I get from walking.

I realize that exercise is important, but I also believe that I can birth anywhere I am comfortable and not interfered with, even if I'm only in moderately decent shape. I don't need to be an amazon to birth naturally at home or anyplace else.
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While I believe that it is best to be in good physical condition when you are embarking upon a birth, I don't think it's neccesary. Prior to my 1st homebirth, I was going to the gym 3 times/week and spending about an hour on the eliptical machine each time. But prior to my 2nd homebirth, I was not exercising on a regular basis; I was much more of a couch potato. Despite this, my 2nd homebirth was far easier, both physically and mentally.

For me, I truly believe that mental preparation was much more important than physical preparation. During my 1st homebirth, I was unsure of how the birth would unfold; I was anxious about how I would deal with the pain of an unmedicated birth (having had a previous medicated birth). During my 2nd homebirth, I felt confident in both myself and my baby. I had no doubts about the labor. During labor, I focused on welcoming my baby rather than on merely 'getting through' the pain.

I've given birth 3 times and each time, I had an easy, quick recovery from birth. My physical fitness level prior to birth didn't seem to make a difference. After each birth, I was up and about (leaving the house, etc.) within a day or two of birth.
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"For me, I truly believe that mental preparation was much more important than physical preparation"

I totally agree. I didn't do much exercise at all, some walking and kegels is about all I did. During nesting I was running around like a madwoman reorganizing, but I never got into good shape or anything. I practiced Hypnosis and I memorized a bunch of affirmations, which really helped me. I think us women are MADE to give birth, and we can all do it naturally, with the strength in our minds. It's all what you believe and have faith in what you can do, IMO.
Quagmire: Yes, I've thought of that but I'm not sure I'd actually stick with watching a video. I've thought about one of the books that show you all the stretches and exercises.
I've heard about the squats, I'll have to look up how to do it right. That's another thing I miss about work, half the time I was squatting working on some project.
Tie-dyed: That's pretty much what I've been doing. I go to the mall and walk with the stroller. I love walking in the woods/ hiking, but I have to find something to do with my 20 month old if I'm out long.
Annethcz: Thanks! Hopefully I can be that prepared mentally, I was with my first (at least I think I was).
I think as long as you aren't totally out of shape (like can't walk up a flight of stairs without being winded) the adrenaline and hormones will carry you through. I had a 20 hour labor that was extremely intense (my water broke with the first contraction) and I only ate an apple and drank water and electrolite drinks- I didn't even feel physically exhausted until after he was born. That is the first time in my life I've eaten so little in a 20 hour period. I think the body goes into survival mode or something.

Anyway, all I did was try to walk as much as possible while pregnant- I waited tables until I was 5 months along so I know what you mean about walking 5 miles a day at work! You're probably in better shape that you think just from that.
I work out 3+ times a week at the gym doing about an hour of cardio - two different machines and I alternate training legs, upper body and do abs every time. I also try to make it to yoga once a week.

Because you don't have access to a gym try the yoga vidoes, walking, squatting, sitting and doing abdominal exercise on a birth ball and plenty of sex
I am a big believer that sex is great preparation for birth

Don't forget to take time to relax and meditate as well. I agree that the mental part is important but in my experience with my fourth births my body rebounded and felt sooooo much better when I was in good physical condition to begin with.

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I was not in good shape. ( stillnot!LOL!) I am a smaller person- but a thuroid disorder I had after ds took away most of my strength. I have very little energy. My labor was only 6 hours- and I was fine. My mw( your mw too!) told me that no matter what you will feel bad after!LOL! My friend that homebirthed too and exercised all the time( 17 hours of labor with joanne) felt pretty bad too for a few days- and she moved 8 days later( not advised!)
Do what you feel comfortable doing! If you enjoy walking etc- go for it! I have a GAIM yoga video I can send you!
Yeah, I think exercise ALWAYS helps and you should do it, not just for homebirth, but for your whole life.


I'm a complete couch potato, and I got through it fine too. I worried a little bit about having the physical stamina too, but like a PP said, I think if you can climb a set of stairs without being winded you're probably going to do just fine. That's NOT to say that birthing is only as hard as climbing a set of stairs
But, your body will be able to rise to the occasion.
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Ha, I'll have to work on the walking up stairs w/o getting winded part. lol
I agree that the mental side is more important- but I'm feeling a bit worried about my condition now - I do some yoga from a book which I find helpful - easy and good photos - Yoga for pregnancy - Rosalind Widdowson, and walk in the woods when weather permits (most of my pregnancy has been under snow or driving rain!) but this time round (#2, starting thrid tri) I actually do feel winded after climbing stairs - I certainly wasn't before I was pregnant, I'm pretty slim and worries me a lot. I do squatting for veg peeling etc...
I had my babe at the end of summer and I spent the better part of the summer in the water, I was swimming nearly every day and it is so comfortable to float around in the water when the feet are sore, the back hurts, your itchy. but even though I slowed down during pg, I also kept pretty physical through my pg doing lots of household stuff, I mowed lawns, walked, planted trees, played cricket with the boys.
i agree it's all mental. i was/am an overweight person who gets little to no exercise. i was in labor for 45 hours being sustained by a bite here and there of peanut butter toast and some miso broth. i swear you don't feel how tired you are until it's all over.
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My last pregnancy I started out overweight and didn't exercise very much. I didn't have any trouble with labor. I found a birth dance during labor that helped soooo much. I made sure to stay hydrated, too. Yes, I was tired afterward, but the adrenaline totally made up for that. It's a high like nothing else. You feel like superwoman (and you are

This time I'm running and doing some weights, not specifically for pregnancy/labor, but b/c that's just what I do. I'm planning on running a 5K in May and a 10K at 32 weeks. My mw thinks it's awesome and plans to come and take pics for her website.
I feel so strong being a runner this time around and it makes my body feel so healthy and able. It'll be interesting to see if it makes a difference in labor.
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I make myself go out for walks. If its mostly flat, I walk for longer. Lots of hills, I cut myself a little on the distance.

I also try to do yoga as often as possible. This seems to translate to 4-5 times a week. I have a prenatal yoga DVD from Gaiam... which seems like I might use it late in pregnancy when I'm very round. I think my personal skill level is more internediate, and the prenatal DVD is meant for someone just getting into yoga as a pregnant woman (so more beginner). I've just kept doing my strength yoga DVD (also from Gaiam...), and trying to add time to my endurance (DVD is about 45 minutes long, but I can't do it all... yet.)

Pilates are supposed to be good, and you an probably find DVDs for that too. I've been meaning to order one....
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