Because We’re not Seahorses: Some Daily Exercises to Make Pregnancy a Little Easier.
The male seahorse is equipped with a pouch on the ventral, or front-facing, side of the tail. When mating, the female seahorse deposits up to 1,500 eggs in the male's pouch. The male carries the eggs for 9 to 45 days until the seahorses emerge fully developed, but very small. The young are then released into the water, and the male often mates again within hours or days during the breeding season.
Seahorses hey? Unfortunately our gestation process is a little longer, trickier and more female centred. Labour is also slightly more complicated in humans. My first labour was very long, after racing to the hospital and discovering that there were no midwives on staff qualified to deliver a breech baby I had an emergency C section. My second labour was protracted (for a week) and then my son was back to back (ideally the baby’s back lies against the abdominal wall. During both pregnancies I walked daily and went to my lovely pregnancy yoga classes but I still had my gymnastics and circus trained body that held my belly in and lifted my pelvic floor far too much, I had tight hip flexors, hamstrings and calves because of my dominant quads and anterior tilted pelvis. What I didn’t know then was that the length of ligaments and muscles around the mother’s pelvis and uterus influences the position of the baby. The baby accommodates the space it is given.
If I could do my pregnancies again - with the knowledge that I have now - these are the exercises that I would do every day.
1. Calf stretch and lunge against a wall
Your calves are working much harder now that they are propelling extra (and unevenly loaded) weight with each step they help you take. Stretch them out to feel the positive effects up the whole back line of your body. Your hip flexors take an increasing load as the weight of the baby pulls your belly forward.
Ikuko has one foot in front of the other, front knee bent rear leg straight, hands are gently pushing the wall. Her back heel raises and lowers as she visualises her calf muscles lengthening like chewing gum as the heel lowers to the floor.
She feels all of her toes on the floor and imagines a pendulum swinging from her tail bone, it swings back as the heel raises and forward as the heel lowers. She then bends her back knee raising the heel and repeats the gentle movements, this time bending and straightening the back knee, imagining the muscles of the thigh lengthening as the knee bends.
2. Slow motion walking / standing on one leg while tooth brushing.