Pain during pregnancy shouldn’t be ‘put up with’. Having a child is one of the most exciting times and every mother-to-be should have the opportunity to enjoy the experience, pain-free. Regularly setting aside some time throughout your pregnancy to undertake some simple exercises and stretches will not only reduce pain but prepare you for the birth and make you feel good too. Take a read of the four key exercises and stretches I recommend incorporating into your routine to reduce pain during pregnancy.

Pelvic floor exercises

Childbirth is just one cause of pelvic floor dysfunction which can be embarrassing and difficult to manage. Prepare your body for childbirth by undertaking pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) during your pregnancy to prepare for the birth and after to assist in the health process.  You can do these anytime and anywhere. Pelvic floor exercises are simple and discrete. To do them, tighten the saddle region of your crutch, much like you do when you stop the flow of urine. Hold the contractions for the count of 5-10 and then release. Repeat 6 times. Remember not to tighten your leg, bottom, or abdominal muscles at the same time.

Thoracic stretches

Middle and lower back pain are common complaints I hear from pregnant women – some only have mild pain while others have more discomfort for longer periods of time. All of this is a result of changes that are happening to your body. To assist with the relief of back pain, undertake some gentle thoracic stretches such as a forward bend stretch. This is as simple as it sounds; remember to only stretch forward as far as it is comfortable. Another thoracic stretch involves getting comfortable on your hands and knees on the floor and then arching your back up, holding for a few seconds and then returning to the neutral position. Try both of these a few times.

Lower body and leg stretches

Carrying a baby means you will be carrying more weight which in turn puts pressure on your lower body. Stretching can help relieve pain and improve circulation. You might find you get pain in your calves. To stretch this part of your body, stand in front of a step, placing one foot onto the step, supporting yourself against a wall or handrail. Keep your back leg straight, bending your front leg slightly while leaning forward. Repeat for the opposite side of your body. As well as pain, you may find your ankles are carrying fluid during your pregnancy. To improve circulation in this area undertake some gentle ankle rotations. Do this by sitting with your legs extended in front of you, toes relaxed. Rotate your feet in large circles using your whole foot and ankle.

Use a fitness ball for extra support

Most gyms have a fitness ball that can be put to use supporting your body when undertaking stretches to reduce pregnancy pain. For back pain, try kneeling on a mat with the fitness ball in front of you. Stretch your arms to the ball, pushing the ball away from your body stretching through the shoulders and into the middle and lower back.

I’ve only outlined a handful of gentle exercises and stretches for mums-to-be to aid in the reduction of pain during pregnancy. A physiotherapist can provide a routine specific to your body. First and foremost, ensure you are listening to your body and not pushing it further than it wants to go. If you are experiencing severe pain, it is best to consult a Back In Motion physiotherapist.

Written by Jason T Smith, renowned Physiotherapist, founder of the Back In Motion Health Group and author of ‘Get Yourself Back In Motion’.
Jason’s book Get Yourself Back In Motion is be available at Back In Motion Health Group practices, major book retailers and online bookstores RRP $34.95 www.getyourselfbackinmotion.com.au. To find your nearest Back In Motion practice visit www.backinmotion.com.au or call 1300 MY HEALTH.
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  • these exercises will be really helpful. that’s if you are able to do them


  • Great gentle exercises, wish I had this information on hand years ago.


  • Great exercises, thanks for the info


  • i sat on the fit ball for hours during my last labour!!!!!


  • Great tips – thank you!


  • my sister is currently expecting and i will be giving her the link to this read. thanks


  • great tips here, wish I knew this years ago


  • Love the fitness ball idea. They are so good to improve core strength and balance.


  • all exercise can help with pain I believe


  • Taking note of this for when I get pregnant!


  • the pelvic floor exercises are so important


  • Thank you, a very timely article as I’m feeling less like exercising but my body is in need of more strengthing as Bubs arrival time approaches.


  • thanks for sharing, was a good read


  • Thank you, will have to do these with number four if I am lucky enough.


  • Wonderful advice, a very informative article.


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