Ask any postnatal mama, and they'll tell you that giving birth is one of the most physically-taxing experiences of their life. It's no surprise that many women compare it to hardcore sports like running a marathon.
While every childbearing experience is unique, the immense emotional and physical endurance tethered to childbirth cannot be denied.
And that's not just a baseless assumption—it's incredible what a woman's body can endure during birth. The average woman expels three times more oxygen during labor than a marathon runner expels during a race. Plus, the injuries some women sustain during childbirth are comparable to what athletes sustain doing high-endurances sports .
It's common to hear that recovery after childbirth takes just 6 weeks. But this is merely the amount of time required for the womb to return to its regular size . Postnatal women may need up to a year to return to their usual level of physical health and activity after their birthing marathon. Essentially, your body (and mind) endures a lot during labor!
Athletes running long-distance marathons train hard to improve their performance, reduce their risk of injuries, and speed up their physical recovery.
Likewise, pregnant mamas can train for their birthing marathon, too!
While you may not be in full control of everything, you can actively empower your mind and body to set yourself up for a smoother laboring experience.
In this article, we'll explore how you can prepare for your birthing marathon and the benefits of preparing for birth through intentional and structured training.
What Does Prenatal Training Involve?
What comes to your mind when you think about prenatal training? Do you visualize a pregnant woman with a cute baby bump stretching on an exercise ball without breaking a sweat?
Well, there's a lot more a pregnant mama can do to amp up her strength and fitness before game day.
At Studio Bloom, we've meticulously designed a safe and effective workout system with a wide range of exercise options to help elevate your fitness and prevent pregnancy-related injuries.
Our post- and prenatal training include everything from breathing exercises, strength training, core exercises, pelvic floor workouts, cardio, and barre.
Yes, you'll sweat. And yes, you'll be physically challenged. But you'll enter the labor room with a new level of confidence.
Does prenatal training only focus on physical fitness?
When it comes to giving birth, both strength and surrender (or softening into the strength) go hand in hand. Training the mental body is just as crucial as physical training, and that's where breathwork comes into the picture.
Diaphragmatic breath can be incorporated (as it is in Studio Bloom's birth-prep classes) as a method to calm the mind and body as you undergo challenging bouts of exercise during your prenatal training. The same technique becomes extremely handy when you're in labor, kindling a sense of calm as your body undergoes surges of intense contractions.
Essentially, prenatal training stretches your physical and mental capacity to prepare you as much as possible for when it's time to push!
What are the Benefits of Prenatal Training?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has noted that women with uncomplicated pregnancies are encouraged to engage in strength-conditioning and aerobic exercises during and after pregnancy .
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans further recommends that pregnant and postpartum mothers perform at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week during pregnancy and the postpartum period .
But why this emphasis on prenatal and postpartum fitness?
Let's explore some benefits of prenatal training below!
1. Keeps you and your baby healthy
Research has shown that exercising during pregnancy can help prevent the following health-related conditions in pregnant mothers :
Gestational diabetes (diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy)
High blood pressure
Excessive weight gain
This lowers the risk of premature birth or your baby being born with a birthweight much higher than normal (a condition called macrosomia) .
Maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy is also key, as excessive weight gain and maternal obesity may increase the risk of the following conditions :
Spontaneous abortion, which is the loss of pregnancy naturally during its early stages
Spina bifida, a condition where the baby's spine and spinal cord do not develop properly
Hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the baby's brain, which can be fatal if left untreated
Preterm birth or stillbirth
Keeping your body fit and strong while pregnant helps ensure your little bundle of joy is healthy as well!
2. Promotes a smoother delivery
Studies have found that women who exercise while pregnant are less likely to experience prolonged first-stage labor. Prolonged first-stage labor is unlikely to lead to complications but can be emotionally and physically draining for the mother .
And if you're keen on having a natural birth, keeping fit during your pregnancy can also help you achieve that! Research shows that prenatal exercise increases the chances of natural birth and lowers the need for cesarian or operative-assisted vaginal delivery [4, 7].
This enables you to recover faster and facilitates earlier skin-to-skin contact with your newborn.
3. Allows more effective pushing during labor
We've heard people compare pushing out a child to pushing like you're having the biggest bowel movement of your life. Unfortunately, pushing during labor is a little more intricate than pushing like you're pooping, and doing the latter could increase your risk of injuries like vaginal tears and hemorrhoids.
Prenatal training allows you to practice specific movements through different forms of exercise that mimic the labor experience. You'll learn to train the right group of muscles to push your baby out effectively.
This leads to one question prenatal mothers have: What muscles do you use to push during labor?
During labor, your transabdominal muscles (TA muscles) should remain contracted as you push, while your pelvic floor muscles are to remain relaxed.
This can be a little tricky when you first start because these muscles naturally fire together—we liken this synchronized movement to something like rubbing your stomach while patting your head.
With some practice, you'll learn to engage, release, and coordinate these groups of muscles in a way that allows you to push your baby out effectively. And the Studio Bloom app teaches you exactly how to do this.
4. Empowers you to manage pain and emotions better
Diaphragmatic breath—the cool little trick we introduced earlier—helps invoke a sense of calm as your body undergoes waves of contraction. And yes, we completely understand. At what feels like our bodies' breaking point, all we'd want to do is scream, kick, shout, and tug our hair out.
During moments like these, focusing on your breathwork and maintaining a sense of calm become all the more crucial. Diaphragmatic breath is the body's natural pain reliever, serving as an incredibly powerful tool as you wage war against incoming labor pains.
Keeping your body calm also creates the space needed for your labor to move through your body as it should. In some cases, a woman who experiences stalled or prolonged labor may be gripping onto physical or emotional tension. When diaphragmatic breathing comes into play, that tension falls away. Your breath has the power to reset your labor when it stalls for reasons within your control.
Besides that, focusing on breathing and keeping calm during labor allows you and your baby to get more oxygen. Staying relaxed during the early stages of labor also encourages your body to produce more oxytocin, a hormone that helps progress labor and mediates initial breastfeeding .
So, do your best to practice breathwork before game day!
5. Promotes a smoother recovery after birth
A smoother recovery will allow you to be more physically and emotionally present during your 4th trimester. And research has found that prenatal exercise helps to reduce postpartum recovery time .
Abdominal strengthening exercises could help lower the risk of diastasis recti, a condition that causes your belly to bulge for months, or even years, following pregnancy. Pelvic floor exercises could also help prevent incontinence during and after pregnancy .
6. May improve mood and prevent postpartum depression
Having a baby can trigger a flight of powerful emotions, ranging from joy and excitement to fear, anxiety, and exhaustion—and that's perfectly normal. Being a new mom can be really tough!
However, some new mothers may feel extremely overwhelmed and develop persistent depressive symptoms. This is termed postpartum depression.
Some studies have suggested that exercise may help reduce the risk of postpartum depression. Exercise may stimulate the production of essential hormones that help regulate sleep, brain function, and mood and reduce the production of inflammatory proteins in the body. This could help with improving mood and lowering the risk of postpartum depression .
Keep in mind that feelings of anxiousness or depression after giving birth does not define your strength or capability as a mother.
Bottom Line: How to Get Started With Prenatal Training
Prenatal training may be suitable and beneficial for many women. But it's still safest to check with your doctor or midwife to find out if you can safely exercise—especially if you've been diagnosed with a certain condition or pregnancy complication.
One of the best ways to safely and effectively get into the groove of prenatal exercise is via the Bloom Method. This unique prenatal and postnatal workout system combines proven techniques, breathing practices, strength training, yoga, cardio, and core-specific movements that set you up for empowered labor and faster recovery.
Studio Bloom provides all the necessary tools, educational content, coaching, and a variety of fitness styles to cater to mothers in every single stage of birth. We'll prep you physically, mentally, and emotionally for one of the toughest but most rewarding experiences in life.
Sign up for your 7-day free trial with us today.
Also, we'd love for mothers to keep this in mind; Though the process is challenging, your body was intricately designed to birth a child. Steer your mind into a positive space during your labor, and this will allow your body to naturally move through this beautiful process as it should.
You've got this, super-mama!
Want to Experience Studio Bloom?
 Childbirth an athletic event? Sports medicine used to diagnose injuries caused by deliveries. (2015, December 1). University of Michigan News. https://news.umich.edu/childbirth-an-athletic-event-sports-medicine-used-to-diagnose-injuries-caused-by-deliveries/
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 Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period. (n.d.). ACOG. https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2020/04/physical-activity-and-exercise-during-pregnancy-and-the-postpartum-period
 Rodríguez-Blanque, R., Sánchez-García, J. C., Sánchez-López, A. M., & Aguilar-Cordero, M. J. (2019). Physical activity during pregnancy and its influence on delivery time: a randomized clinical trial. PeerJ, 7, e6370. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6370
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 Watkins, V. Y., O'Donnell, C. M., Perez, M., Zhao, P., England, S., Carter, E. B., Kelly, J. C., Frolova, A., & Raghuraman, N. (2021). The impact of physical activity during pregnancy on labor and delivery. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 225(4), 437.e1–437.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajog.2021.05.036
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