5 ways to prepare your body for labor—from strength training to meditation

Practice in self-awareness and strength will aid you to confidently work with your body during labor and to heal efficiently postpartum.

5 ways to prepare your body for labor—from strength training to meditation

There are numerous physiological benefits for mom and baby as you train together for the work of labor, both becoming stronger and more capable of handling the expected and unexpected stresses of pregnancy and delivery. A great way to prepare for labor and delivery is through strength training, cardio intervals and mindfulness practice.

Here, I outline some of the key components to a well-rounded prenatal fitness program that you can tailor to suit your individual needs and goals. Before starting any exercise program while pregnant, make sure to consult with your doctor first.

1. Core and pelvic floor foundation

You'll want to keep up with a daily practice of diaphragmatic breathing, focusing on the core and pelvic floor connection. You can learn more about simple breathing exercises that can help here.

2. Use full body strength training

Pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood are all very physically demanding experiences and it's best to be well-equipped with full body strength and function.You'll ideally want to perform moderate strength training on two non-consecutive days of the week for approximately 20 minutes.

If you're new to this form of exercise, start slowly and conservatively, preferably under the guidance of a trained pre/postnatal fitness specialist.

If you're not comfortable using free weights, simply use body weight or light resistance bands to get started. One of my favorite exercises that can be done anywhere and without equipment is the squat.

Squatting creates a wide pelvic outlet which helps to facilitate an easier and safer delivery of your baby. It also strengthens and lengthens the muscles of the lower body, including buttocks, hamstrings and quadriceps.

While it's important to have a strong lower body, you want to have strength and function in your upper body as well! After all, soon you will be toting the most adorable hand weight for much of the day (and maybe night)! Think about exercises that open the chest and strengthen the back, such as the row.

For strength training with a mind-body component, give the wall sit a try! We use wall sits in most classes at Bodies for Birth to practice staying calm while the body is working physically hard—perfect preparation for labor and delivery.

3. Incorporate low-impact cardiovascular and interval training

There are many different forms of cardiovascular exercise that can be appropriate and modifiable during pregnancy, so hopefully, you can find something you enjoy or can continue the exercise you're already doing

Walking, stationary biking and swimming can all be excellent choices. Low impact aerobic style intervals can also be an excellent way to prepare the body for the interval work of labor and delivery. Prioritize rest time as much as you're exerting so that you don't overdo it. You can use this zone guideline to monitor your level of intensity—never exceed level six or seven.

4. Practice mindfulness meditation

Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time, full of anticipation, excitement and change. This is an excellent opportunity to carve out a bit of time daily to connect with your body and baby through mindful meditation. If you're new to this, it can feel overwhelming and you may resist at first.

Start slowly by carving out a minute or two each day while you practice your diaphragmatic breathing and aim to build from there. Thankfully, there are plenty of apps that are making this practice more accessible! You can try Expectful or Headspace, both of which have tracks specific to pregnancy.

5. Increase your flexibility

Flexibility training, including static stretching, foam rolling or prenatal yoga should be incorporated at the end of each training session. It's wise to focus on those areas that experience common aches and pains in pregnancy such as your low, mid and upper back.

It's best to include both upper and lower body stretches. Since you will likely experience increased flexibility due to the hormonal exchange in pregnancy, be mindful of how you're stretching and never stretch to your threshold or beyond.

By staying active and fit throughout pregnancy, you have the opportunity to gain a greater appreciation of your pregnant body's capabilities and limitations. Practice in self-awareness and strength will aid you to confidently work with your body during labor and to heal efficiently postpartum.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.


From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

Work + Money

Mama, all I see is you

A love letter from your baby.


I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

All I see is you.

When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

You are my everything.

When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

I trust you.

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