Preparing for Birth: Pelvic Floor Exercises for a Smooth Delivery

Key Points

  • Different yoga poses for each trimester build pelvic floor strength during pregnancy.

  • Modify your poses to make them safe and effective for your changing body.

  • Breathing techniques and restorative yoga are highly beneficial before giving birth.

It's incredible what the human body is capable of performing. Giving birth is miraculous but also impacts a woman's body. There's nothing to prepare you for the moment you hold your child for the first time, but there are things to do to prepare your body. For example, practicing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy prepares specific parts of your anatomy.

International yoga teacher and trainer Lindsay Calvert explains what the pelvic floor includes: "The muscles of the pelvic floor surround the bladder, bowel, and uterus (in women). They can be described as a mesh of small muscles in the genital region, starting at the pubic bone and ending at the tailbone. For women in particular, this area becomes weakened during pregnancy and childbirth."

If you want to increase your flexibility and pelvic floor strength before the big day, here are some safe ideas to try.

Safe Prenatal Yoga Poses

You want to avoid certain activities while pregnant, but staying active is essential to prepare your body for what's coming. Yoga is perfect for birth preparation; you tone your body, prepare it for giving birth, and enhance your ability to recover after your child is born. Prenatal yoga is suitable for every trimester, but each stage has safe poses.

Woman that is pregnant doing yoga pose

The First Trimester

Poses with forward bends are still okay but bend forward slowly when you take on any pose. The cat/cow pose is an excellent stretch for the first semester. Get on all fours and arch your back, rounding it after a few seconds. Tuck your chin into your chest as you arch your back — cat pose — and gently squeeze your glutes.

Then, slowly move into the cow position by drawing a line with your nose forward and upward until it points at the ceiling, your spine slowly following suit.

Tree pose is another good first-trimester option. Stand on one foot, and lift the other, placing it on the inside of your thigh with the hip rotated outward. Raise your arms overhead and put your hands together. Enhance this pose with deep breathing.

Avoid any poses that include backbends, twists, or anything that makes you feel like you're stretching incorrectly for your current body situation.

The Second Trimester

In this stage, your middle section starts to grow, but not so much that you must avoid forward motion. Child's pose, for example, is safe.

Start with both knees on the ground, scoot your rear backward to rest on your heels, then drop your upper body toward the floor, trying to touch your forehead to your yoga mat. Reach your arms out in front of you, reaching your fingertips to the farthest point on the ground as possible. This pose is a great way to stretch your back, shoulders, and neck.

The side-leg pose is another great option for this stage. Lay on your side, raise your leg 45 degrees or more, and hold it. Work in some leg lifts for muscle-building.

Now that you see your baby bump, avoiding certain yoga motions, including twisting in the midsection to protect the area from strain, is essential.

Pregnant woman stretching

The Third Trimester

Your child's birth is drawing near, and you take extra care with everything you do, including yoga. The warrior pose is a great way to stretch your arms and legs while also building strength. Stand with your legs wide apart, with the front foot facing forward and the back foot pointed slightly outward. Bend your front knee and lean into the stretch as you open your arms on either side to make a "T" with your torso. Alternate which foot is in front to stretch both sides.

The Goddess pose is another option to prepare you for the upcoming birth. Stand with your legs wide apart, with your toes opening up to 135 degrees. Bend both knees, extend your hands above you, and loop them together. The pose feels like a sumo squat and works the legs and glutes while helping you balance.

Many yoga poses have safe modifications for the third trimester, but you must avoid hot yoga at all costs. Your body needs extra fluids, and hot yoga depletes moisture.


You need many things when you give birth to a child, including flexibility, strength, and stability. Frequent yoga practice helps you increase all three.


When pregnant, you carry extra weight in the midsection, and it's easy to become stiff from lack of movement. Safe trimester-specific poses keep you flexible; the additional flexibility is handy during delivery and helps with recovery.


No new mom or mother-to-be has too much strength, and the muscles in your body are more important than ever. Pregnancy exercise needs modification over what you did in the past, but practicing yoga helps you to gain and maintain your strength.

Pregnant woman doing yoga


You may not be able to use your core strength as you did in the past, but safe modifications of specific yoga poses help you to shift your balance and maintain it nicely. Increasing your steadiness is helpful as you gain weight, making it easier to walk and sit or exit chairs.

Pregnancy-Specific Modifications

Prenatal yoga is a safe pregnancy activity and an excellent birth preparation technique. However, there are some poses you want to avoid or modify.

Anything on Your Back

As you get further into your pregnancy, lying on your back is no longer comfortable. Any pose that requires being on your back needs modification, such as rolling to your side.


Poses that take you upside down aren't a good idea when pregnant. Instead, modify the pose to a standing position to get similar stretches.

Pregnant woman in lunge pose

Pelvic Floor Strengthening

Any expectant mom needs extra pelvic floor strength to get through the birthing process as easily as possible. Yoga poses help build pelvic floor strength. In early pregnancy stages, when you're still able to be on your back, glute bridges are a great option.

Consult with a yoga instructor to get more specific techniques for the pelvic floor. Not every yoga professional has training in prenatal yoga, so ask about those credentials.

Breathing Techniques

One huge advantage to using yoga as a pregnancy exercise is the focus on pranayama. This breathing technique aids in relaxation and focus, two things you need when bringing new life to the world.

If you and your partner attend prenatal classes together, the instructor often goes through breathing exercises that are helpful during birthing. You only further that lesson when you practice trimester-specific poses and pranayama on your own.

Pregnant woman meditating

Restorative Yoga for Pregnancy

Restorative yoga is an excellent option during and after pregnancy. Your body is going through a lot, and you must keep up your strength. This type of yoga uses supportive props to safely stabilize and ease discomfort.

The Wall

Doing restorative yoga with a wall nearby is always a good idea if you need extra stability. The last thing you want is to topple over and injure yourself.

A Chair

A chair is another suitable balancing tool, but it also helps you to take on certain poses from a seated position instead of standing in case you tire. Make sure the chair you choose is heavy with a broad base.

A Yoga Ball

The yoga ball is an excellent prop for various yoga poses. It's useful for balance, comfort, and reaching deeper stretches.

Pregnant woman with exercise ball

Start Your Prenatal Yoga Today

Whether you just learned you're pregnant or already into the third trimester, it's never too early or too late to participate in pregnancy exercise through yoga. Consult your doctor about any limitations you need to watch and enjoy the benefits.

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