Re: Are there exercises I can do that will help prepare me for labor?
Yes, just like you can train your body for a marathon, you can train your body for giving birth. The most important conditioning you can do is in your pelvic floor and your hips. Strengthening these areas will help you push the baby out quicker and lead to a speedier recovery.
To strengthen your pelvic floor, try doing kegals every day. Imagine you're drawing your pelvic floor up like an elevator and hold at the top for about 10 seconds, then slowly control the decent as you release the pelvic floor muscles. You can also try quick flicks kegals, which are short, intermittent contractions -- quickly contract and release the pelvic floor muscles 10 times. The pelvic floor muscles, like every other muscle in your body, have slow and fast twitch fibers, so it’s important to strengthen them with different kegal contractions. Slow twitch fibers are endurance muscle fibers, and fast twitch muscle fibers are quick to fatigue.
For greater flexibility, do hip openers in your second trimester: Sit in a butterfly position with the soles of your feet together and your knees open wide in a diamond. Use your elbows to open the hips further and hold for at least 30 to 60 seconds every day.