Blog with Rhondda Hartman

Step 9 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Leg Stretches – Flexing and Extending Ankles and Knees

Not only will leg stretches stimulate circulation in your legs, they will also strengthen your leg muscles and make it easier to carry those extra pounds caused by your growing baby. You may even develop a more shapely leg!

You will be carrying your child for at least a year after he/she is born, so let’s get ready now. If you wear high heels, this exercise will help stretch your Achilles tendon, which may have become shortened over the years.

It is a good idea, pregnant or not, to vary the type of heel you wear.

Step 9 of 12 Exercise Essentials - Leg Stretches

Step 8 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Leg Exercises Will Make a Difference

The following exercise and any leg exercises are offered to improve and maintain circulation of the lower extremities. Use them faithfully and you may have no problems with varicose veins. Leg elevation is also a way of increasing the circulation in the lower part of your body.

One easy way to elevate your lower body is by raising the foot of your bed with three or four bricks. You may find that you are more rested in the morning and have lost that “woody” feeling in your legs. See if you like it.

Step 7 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Abdominal Breathing

You must become very good at abdominal breathing because during the first stage of labor, with each contraction you will breathe with your abdomen and relax completely. This will allow you to remain comfortable and it will be your secret to having a natural childbirth. Between contractions you may do whatever you feel like doing and breathe however you wish. But with a contraction, abdominal breathing is a must!

Abdominal breathing and relaxation belong together. You do them better together than you are able to do each separately. Your ability to do both will increase with practice, so the amount of time you spend at it beforehand will pay great dividends during labor.

Step 5 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Relaxation, Part 2

Get Ready for Loose and Limp!

Now, assume the classic position and get yourself as comfortable and relaxed as you can. If you then have your husband/coach read the poem I’ve written, you should be able to relax even more. You’ll soon observe how you respond to different words and phrases and begin to think creatively about what other words or routines might be better for you. You may prefer to use a “total body” idea of relaxing and not go to the progressive method that I use. Perhaps you will do best with “pleasant thought” or meditative relaxing.

Step 5 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Relaxation, Part 1

The meaning of the word “relaxation” as used in Natural Childbirth may be very different from your past experience. It is a skill that you will find useful for the rest of your life. Nothing is needed more in our stress-filled lives than learning to relax.

Here is what the word means to me and to you, from now on.

Relaxation takes mental activity to keep you physically inactive. In other words, you work hard with your mind to keep your body still and quiet! It is very different from sleep, when our minds probably fall asleep before our bodies relax. Relaxing takes mental discipline, especially while the uterus is in hard contraction.

Step 4 of 12 Essentials for Natural Childbirth: Opening the “Baby Door” – Squatting


The squat is the position you will assume to give birth. It opens the “baby door.” The pelvis is pulled as wide open as it can get. So get busy and limber up those squatting muscles! The wider apart you hold your legs during the pushing stage of labor, the sooner the baby can be born.

Squatting is healthy because it develops better circulation in the perineal area, which leads to better muscle tone and healthier tissue. One of the benefits post birth is that your tissues are healthy from the increased attention to them. After the typical stretching that childbirth creates, your tissues will more quickly resume their normal state.

Natural Childbirth Tip: Actions for the Second Stage of Labor

Take full, deep breaths and push hard during the second stage of labor.

Tip from Natural Childbirth Exercise Essentials by Rhondda Hartman