The aches and pains of pregnancy might have you reaching for Tylenol—but not so fast.
Did you know that pregnancy stretches can help relieve your aching muscles? More, it can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure—a common problem during pregnancy.
In this guide, we’re sharing stretches to target your pain. This way, you can tailor your routine to your body. You’ll learn:
- Pregnancy stretches for back pain
- Pregnancy stretches for sciatica
- Pregnant stretches for legs
- Pregnant stretches for hips
- Pregnant kegel exercises and stretches
- Pregnancy yoga stretches
Keep reading to see suggestions for your aches.
Benefits of Pregnant Stretching
Stretching is beneficial anytime—but especially during pregnancy. Here’s why:
- Helps relaxation. Studies show that daily stretching can reduce stress. Other research has found that a short stretching routine can reduce anxiety levels and exhaustion, raise mental health, and improve well-being.
- Lowers blood pressure. A 2010 study compared pregnant women who walked versus those who stretched. The stretching group had lower heart rates. Authors suggest this may reduce the risk of preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy). Read: High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy: 5 Dangerous Complications.
- Ease pain. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to do pregnant stretches is because it helps with your aches and pains. A 2020 study concluded that stretching is efficient for pain reduction in pregnant women with low back pain.
- Maintains mobility. Stretching can help you maintain mobility as your body changes throughout pregnancy.
- Prepares for birth. Some exercises, like those working the pelvic muscles, will help prepare your body for birth. Research also shows that people who exercise have easier labor. Learn more by reading 7 Exercises to Make Labor Easier and Less Painful.
Stretching during pregnancy is safe for most people, but be sure to get your doctor’s ‘ok’ first. Also, be mindful not to overstretch. Now is not the time to test your limits.
Pregnancy Stretches for Back Pain
These pregnancy stretches for back pain help target all areas of the spine.
Seated Forward Bend
This prenatal yoga pose can help reduce back tension and open your pelvis, ideal as you get closer to delivery. Instead of a standing forward bend, a seated forward bend can provide a more comfortable stretch.
Foam Roller for Glute and Hamstring
A foam roller is a small tool that can have big impacts. It allows you to stretch out your hips and leg muscles, giving you some back pain relief. See a variety of options for pregnancy stretches for back pain using a foam roller below.
Pelvic tilts not only engage the pelvic muscles, they engage your lower back too. This makes it an ideal stretch for low back pain. You can try pelvic tilts against a wall or with a yoga ball.
Torso rotations help improve the flexibility in your back and upper torso. You can try torso rotations sitting cross-legged on the floor or sitting on a yoga ball.
Pregnancy Stretches for Sciatica
Pregnancy aches and pains can highlight sciatica problems. If you’re looking for pregnancy stretches for sciatica specifically, try the suggestions below.
Child’s Pose is a relaxing yoga position for anyone, but especially helpful if you’re looking for pregnancy stretches for sciatica. Simply kneel on a mat with your big toes touching. Then extend your arms forward, placing them on the ground. Stay there for a few deep breaths.
The cat-cow yoga stretch works the muscles along your spine and helps alleviate sciatica pain, making it a great pregnancy stretch for sciatica. Beginning on all fours, the movement requires you to drop the belly and then curve the back.
Seated Pigeon Pose
Seated Pigeon Pose works the piriformis muscle. This muscle can worsen sciatic pain when it’s tight. Stretching it can increase mobility, also reducing sciatic pain.
Chair Hamstring Stretch
Stretching your hamstrings relieves tension in your back, legs and glutes; a great choice if you want to try pregnancy stretches for sciatica. Together, this can improve the flexibility of the muscles surrounding the sciatic nerve. Using a chair helps you keep your balance while fully stretching the low back and hamstrings. Hold the position to feel the stretch.
Pregnant Stretches for Hips
Pregnant stretches for hips are ideal whether or not you have hip pain. That’s because movements that stretch your hips also work your pelvic muscles, beneficial for giving birth.
Bound Angle Pose
Bound angle pose involves sitting with your feet together and pressing your hips forward. This movement will open your hips while also stretching your inner thighs.
Lunges are a traditional exercise, perfect for a pregnancy stretch for the hips. Along with your hip flexors, it also works your glutes and core muscles. If you’re having trouble balancing, hold onto a chair or wall for support.
Happy Baby is a yoga pose great if you’re looking for pregnant stretches for hips. Lying on your back, grab the soles of your feet and take a few deep breaths. This opens the hips and allows your pelvic floor to relax.
<h2>Pregnancy Stretches for Legs
Stretching your legs can help prevent cramping and can get the blood pumping, decreasing swelling. Try these pregnancy stretches for legs.
A simple forward fold stretches the hamstrings in your legs while also stretching your lower back. While standing, slowly lean forward and drop your hands toward to floor. If the standing movement feels like too much, try a seated forward bend or a chair hamstring stretch (described above). These alternatives might be particularly helpful in the third trimester when your big baby belly will make it difficult to bend forward.
Wall Calf Stretches
This stretch can help alleviate calf cramps during pregnancy. To perform a calf stretch, place your hands on the wall with one foot in front of the other, facing the wall. Lean forward, feeling the stretch on the back of the back leg.
Side Lying Leg Lifts
Leg lifts work your legs and hips to build strength during pregnancy. This movement can encourage blood flow to the legs while also alleviating lower back and pelvic pain. Lying on your side with the bottom leg bent back, raise your top leg then lower it.
Pregnant Kegel Exercises
Pregnant Kegel exercises and stretches are perfect to prepare for labor. By strengthening the pelvic floor, your muscles are better able to push during labor and delivery. Strong pelvic muscles also make you less likely to leak urine as the pressure from your belly grows. Try the two pregnant Kegel exercises and stretches below. Varying your position allows you to find what works best for you.
Sitting Kegel Exercise
In this pregnant Kegel exercise, you’re guided to simply breathe while noticing the Kegel muscle. The sensation of the muscle working will be similar to the feeling of stopping the flow of urine.
Side Lying Pregnant Kegel Exercise Stretch
The instructor in the video below explains that while Kegels are most often done while sitting, that’s not the optimal position during pregnancy because of the weight of your baby. Instead, lay down on your side and imagine lifting that muscle slowly and holding it at the top.
Pregnancy Yoga Stretches
When doing pregnant stretches, you can choose a variety of specific stretches that target your pains. Another option is to follow a yoga routine. Pregnancy yoga stretches give you the benefit of flexibility combined with relaxation. Since yoga emphasizes your breathing, stretching can become a destressing technique you use throughout pregnancy. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, try the pregnancy yoga stretches routine below.
To get more tips, read Prenatal Yoga: Your Ultimate Guide
Summary: Pregnant Stretches
Pregnant stretches can increase your mobility while decreasing pain. They can also help you relax and prepare your body for delivery. The type of stretching you do while expecting depends on your body and its specific aches and pains. For example, you can choose pregnancy stretches for sciatica, general pregnancy stretches for back pain or you can focus on another ache, such as the hips or legs. For a full-body stretch, try following a pregnancy yoga stretches routine. As always, before adding to your exercise regime, always get the ‘ok’ from your doctor first.
Have You Tried a Fetal Doppler Yet?
Fetal dopplers are handheld devices used to hear your baby’s heartbeat—while she’s still in the womb! Doctors use the device in-office to check on your baby’s heart development. At home though, it can be used as a bonding tool to help your family experience your pregnancy.