Four easy tips for a healthy, fit, and pain-free pregnancy. 

Picture of pregnant woman holding heart sign to one side

Stretches

Keeping flexible and limber is very important during the later stages of pregnancy. Not only can gentle stretching help with backaches and sore muscles, but it can also help reduce bloating and discomfort in your legs.

Two recommended stretches:

  • Standing Side Stretch: stand with your feet hip width apart. Then cross one foot in front of the other and lean in the opposite direction to the crossed foot. You can also deepen this stretch by holding on to something sturdy at waist height while stretching your opposite arm over your head. This posture releases tension in your shoulders and helps to unlock your back.
  • Seated Leg Stretch: sit on the floor or the middle of your bed. Make sure your back is straight and bend one leg towards you like you’re sitting crossed-legged. Stretch the other leg out straight and as far apart as is comfortable. You should feel a gentle stretch in your hamstring. You can also use a towel or theraband and loop it around the arch of your foot while pulling slightly toward you to deepen the stretch.This posture stretches the hamstrings and can help with circulation in the lower legs.

Sleeping Positions

If you’re normally a back-sleeper, there’s a good chance you’ve been experiencing some discomforts like shortness of breath and heartburn. “Learning” a new sleeping position can take time, so it’s best to get started before your third trimester.

Some suggest that the best sleeping posture for late pregnancy is to lay on your left side. This position reduces heartburn and improves blood flow to the fetus. It’s also more comfortable as you grow bigger. Just be sure that you have a fluffy and thick pillow to support your neck properly.

You should also consider buying a pillow specifically designed to provide support during pregnancy. These pillows come in a variety of shapes and styles. The most popular design is a body pillow that’s intended to be placed underneath your belly. These will help with abdominal discomforts.

Belly Bands

Belly bands have been popular for generations for a good reason: they provide evenly distributed support of your belly and can greatly reduce back and neck problems. Additionally, these bands help with joint pain, especially sacroiliac pain that starts in the hips and radiates throughout the lower back.

There are several styles of belly bands available. Some hook over your shoulders with straps and look similar to those back braces that weightlifters use. There are also stretchy tubes that you either place around your hips or over your belly. All of these styles provide compression, reducing bouncing and providing greater support. This can improve posture during movement.

Heat & Cold

Use ice for:

  • New pains: if you have a recent sore spot or a new ache, use an ice compress to reduce immediate discomfort.
  • Headaches: if you find that you get frequent headaches by the end of the day, try placing an ice pack on your forehead or neck for a few minutes before going to bed.
  • Third trimester rib pain: this pain is very common during late pregnancy and applying ice or a compress to the area can help reduce inflammation.

Use heat for:

  • Joint pain: wrap the sore joint in a heating device. As a DIY option, try microwaving dry beans in a sock.
  • Morning stiffness: use a heating pad to relax stiff muscles and improve blood flow.
  • Beware: it’s not recommended to apply direct heat to your belly, so avoid hot baths. Also, never use a heating device for longer than 20 minutes at a time.