What has exercise got to do with giving birth? My theory on contractions!

Cynthia Young

Our bodies are amazing, and pregnancy is a lovely time to discover that realisation if it hasn’t come to you already.

Your Uterus In Giving Birth.

Your uterus and your baby are instrumental almost literally in giving birth; working in a rhythm together through your contractions.  Your uterus sits in the centre of your pelvis and is home to your baby throughout your pregnancy.

As your uterus contracts there is an orchestra of muscle fibres pushing/pulling/squeezing your baby out while at the same time your baby is pressing off the top of your uterus with their feet trying to find their way out.  Babies are born with a walking or stepping reflex which disappears around 2 months old.  It is this reflex that your baby will use to try and work their way through your cervix, pressing/walking their feet off your uterus as it contracts, pressing down on them.  It is just as much work for you as it is them.


Uterus Muscle Fibre Directions

All of this happens without any conscious effort from you.  Your job is to stay present, trust your body has got this, relax and breath.  Whatever comes your way!


Sometimes mother nature doesn’t get everything just right, all the time.


It's a Mushroom with 2 stalks and it still tasted delicious with garlic and chilli.


Sometimes these anomalies bear little or no relevance or they can change things fundamentally. And when, and if they do, its more important than ever to stay present, trust your body has got this with some help, relax and breath.

What is a contraction?

The uterus is made up of the fundus, corpus, isthmus and the cervix.  The corpus is the main body of the uterus and is very muscular!  It stretches to accommodate your growing baby and during labour it’s these muscular walls of the uterus that contract to help push your baby through the cervix and vagina.  Now we know that contractions are just that, contractions of our muscular uterus pushing your baby through, I think it is much easier to put the “pain” “sensations” “contractions” of labour into context and perspective.


The uterus


If you were to do 60 squats, 20 press ups, the Pilates series of 5, you will feel a muscular burn.

You will have an awareness the burn is about to start, you will start to feel a warmth, you’ll think you can't handle much more of this, you will stop and the burn will fade!

Now, obviously the key difference here is that you cannot control when the contraction stops like you can stop squatting!  But remember contractions do not and cannot last forever!  There will be a break or at least a pause between them.

To try and prepare mentally for this in classes we train some muscles to fatigue regularly whilst focussing on breath, mentally scanning our bodies, being aware of tension and learning how to let that tension go.  This idea will not sit well or work for everyone but is another perspective for your tool box.  For me, this idea worked, and I was fortunate to have two births (one home birth) with no pain relief or intervention.

One series of exercises I like for this is side-lying legs.  Almost all pregnant women can do these easily enough or a variation if needed if they are experiencing any pelvic girdle pain.  There are a million and one combinations you can do and this is just one.  Over the weeks I will post and share more variations.