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Ah, pregnancy — such a strange juxtaposition of feeling wonderful in a way you can hardly describe, and yet also routinely being in pain and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are things you can do to alleviate the latter so you can bask in the feel-good parts of pregnancy. For example, if your pregnant body has you feeling achy all over, pregnancy stretches could be the solution. And since there are hip, leg, and back stretches for pregnancy, you’re bound to find one that provides some relief.
A word of caution before we explore some of these pregnancy stretches, though. When you’re pregnant, your body releases hormones that help to loosen your joints and ligaments. This obviously helps during labor and delivery, but it can make you a bit more susceptible to overstretching while pregnant. So, make sure you speak with your obstetrician or health care provider prior to practicing any sort of physical prenatal activity.
When you’ve got the green light, you’ll find some popular pregnancy stretches — plus info on why stretching during pregnancy is beneficial — right here.
Is it good to stretch when pregnant?
In a word, yes! Of course, every woman and every pregnancy is different. There may be reasons that stretching isn’t in your best interest while carrying your baby (or babies), such as high-risk conditions like placenta previa or preeclampsia. But, generally speaking, stretching boasts myriad benefits during pregnancy. Not only can it help alleviate aches and pains, but it can also help physically prepare your body for the rigors of childbirth.
What are some good pregnancy stretches to try?
Back and Hip Stretches
A certified personal trainer and postnatal exercise specialist, Ashley Keller of GlowBodyPT walks you through first-, second-, and third-trimester-safe hip and back stretches in this video. These stretches work to relieve pain and tension while also preparing your body for labor.
Suffering from sciatica? First things first, *hugs*. This pregnancy pain can be the worst. Let trainer Jessica Pumple guide you through moves designed to help take some pressure off of the sciatic nerve.
Pregnancy Stretches for Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulder Pain
You may hear more about lower back pain during pregnancy, but tension can also wreak havoc on your upper back (not to mention your neck and shoulders). In this video, Pumple focuses on moves that target those areas. Bonus? You can use them after baby is born to relieve back pain from certain breastfeeding positions or carrying your little lovebug.
Piriformis Pregnancy Stretch
It probably comes as zero surprise to you that pregnancy changes your body in many ways. And one area that undergoes a lot of change is your hips. So, it makes sense that a common pregnancy pain complaint centers on the outside of this region of your body. For relief, learn to do a pregnancy-safe piriformis stretch.
Alternatively, you could try this seated piriformis stretch, which is especially good for your second trimester:
Stretching for Leg Cramps
Are pregnancy leg cramps torturing you? This is a common complaint for women in their second and third trimesters. Luckily, these three stretches could nix (or at least minimize) the problem.
Full Body Pregnancy Stretch
If you prefer to get all your stretching done in one fell swoop, YogaCandi has a gentle and mindful full-body prenatal stretching routine you might consider.
Can stretching while pregnant hurt the baby?
Again, you should always consult with your doctor before embarking on any new physical venture while pregnant. A few other words of advice if you’re going to try pregnancy stretching? Don’t overdo it; move slowly and gently, always focusing on proper form. And as a rule of thumb, avoid stomach-lying and extended back-lying postures, as well as extreme abdominal work and deep twists.