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 over-stretching while pregnant. So, make sure you speak with your obstetrician or health care provider before practicing any prenatal physical 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.
Looking for more pregnancy pro tips to make your journey easier? Check out our package of pregnancy-themed articles on your road to motherhood: inducing labor, due date calculator, healthy meal plans, and dealing with rib pain.
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 preeclampsia or placenta previa. But, generally speaking, stretching boasts myriad benefits during pregnancy. Not only can it help alleviate pregnancy 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. If you are unfamiliar with this ache, sciatica is a nerve pain that is also known as lumbosacral radicular syndrome. You usually feel it in your lower spine, and then down to your butt, hips, and thigh. It’s a sharp, shooting pain, typically on one side of your body, that can make it hard to walk or sit. It can sometimes feel like burning, numbness, weakness, or pins and needles. A few ways to treat this nerve pain include massages, chiropractic care, or physical therapy. Foam rollers are also a tool you can use to ease your discomfort. Just be sure to check in with your doctor if you’re feeling any aches similar to what we described above. Thankfully, there are a bunch of stretches you can do to help manage this annoying nerve pain.
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.
This is a good way to stretch out your back, pelvis, and thighs. Get on your hands and knees and make sure you’re keeping your arms straight. Your hands should be parallel to your shoulders. Then, dip down as far as you can and put your head toward your knees while keeping your arms outstretched. Hold this position for 10 seconds. You can also do this with a fitness ball. The mechanics are the same, but you keep your hands on the fitness ball instead of on the floor. This creates less pressure on your arms and should also be held for 10 seconds or longer if you can.
Sit with your legs crossed on the floor. Feel free to sit on a cushion if that makes you more comfortable. Twist your torso from side to side but, while you do it, hold your right foot with your left hand to get a good stretch. Then move your left hand behind you so that your upper body is opened to the right. Keep this position for 10 seconds, doing it on each side ten times.
Can stretching while pregnant hurt the baby?
Again, always consult your doctor before embarking on any new physical venture while pregnant. If you get the green light for pregnancy stretching, don’t overdo it. Move slowly and gently, focusing on nailing the proper form. And the rule of thumb: Avoid stomach-lying, extended back-lying postures, extreme abdominal work, and deep twists.
How else can I relieve pregnancy pain?
Being pregnant is magical, but it’s also an achy experience. Luckily there are plenty of ways to get rid of the pains of being pregnant. Although exercise and yoga are key remedies, there are other routes you can take to find relief.
- A bubble bath has always been the cure for bad days, but now you can use it to push through your pregnancy. Taking a warm bath can help get rid of sharp pains and cramping.
- Since it’s best to avoid over-the-counter pain relievers while pregnant, put a heating pad on any strained area for pain relief.
- Avoid bending your knees or putting undue pressure on them.
- Sleep on a firm mattress.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time.
- Use a pregnancy girdle to relieve the weight of your belly.
- Ditch the high heels and wear shoes and sneakers made for pregnant women.
- Get a massage! Carrying a baby inside of you all day every day is a full-time job. And there are no breaks. So, relax those muscles and take a load off. Back pain and swollen feet are common pain points. Either head to a masseuse or get your partner to rub you down. Not only will this reduce soreness, but it can boost blood circulation and energy.
- Constipation is the worst, but instead of using laxatives for relief, try fruits, veggies, and whole-grain cereals. And make sure you’re drinking lots of water!
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