Guest Author - Caroline Chen-Whatley
First off, congratulations on your pregnancy. Pregnancy can be an exciting time in your life; a time when you're getting ready for the next phase of your life and for a whole new set of experiences. As your doctor will tell you, itís generally not a good idea to start strenuous physical activities after you find out youíre pregnant. If you're already doing these activities, you can probably continue as your body is already accustomed to that routine.
This is where Tai Chi comes in nicely. Tai Chi is by definition low-impact and thus not as strenuous as other activities out there. In addition, Tai Chi can help you prepare your body for the birth of the baby. If you can't make it to a Tai Chi class, here are two simple Tai Chi exercises you can do which will help prepare your body for birth. As with any form of activity, make sure to check with your doctor first before beginning the exercises.
Shifting weight is very much like walking about, only it requires a lot less room. The idea here is to help open up your pelvic area. The slight rotation in the form helps to keep your digestive system working and may help clear out any blockages that might come later in the pregnancy. In the last stages of pregnancy, this type of motion will also help in encouraging the contractions, much as walking will.
To do this exercise, start with your feet shoulder distance apart. Step your right foot forward as if youíre going to walk. Move it a comfortable distance away so that your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle. Turn your left foot out so that it rests in a 45-degree angle with your front foot.
If your front knee is at 90-degrees, you should feel majority of your weight leaning forward (roughly around a 60-40 split in weight distribution). Slowly press back so that the weight shifts towards your back leg and the front leg straights slightly. Your upper body will naturally turn towards the side, following the 45-degree angle of your back foot. Press only as far back as your body maintains a straight posture. This should put you at roughly a 40-60 split in weight distribution (reverse of what it just was). Press forward again to return to the first position.
Do this motion in a nice, slow, steady rocking pace. You'll feel the relaxing sway in your motion.
Picking Fruit provides a side to side motion which helps to open up the diaphragm and promote smoother breathing. In the middle stages of pregnancy, when the baby decides to rest on the lungs, this motion may help to expand breathing and ease some of the pressures.
To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder distance apart. Your hands should be raised to about shoulder level, elbows pointed down. With your right hand, reach up and across as if you were picking something out of a tall tree on the opposite side of the body. Raise up slightly on your right toe to really stretch out the right side. Imagine grabbing the fruit and bringing it back down to shoulder level. Reverse this motion with your left side, this time extending out the left side of your body. Repeat the procedure.
Be careful when doing this not to try to over-stretch yourself. The idea isnít to reach as high as you should but rather to just begin to feel the opening of your diaphragm and rib area. There should be no pain in this motion.