Stretching & Pregnancy, 2nd edition by Kit Laughlin

By Kit Laughlin, with Jennifer Cristaudo

If you are pregnant, or planning a family in the future, this is the book you must have. You will find over 25 exercises that cover all the flexibility you will need for this big event; discussion and descriptions of birth and relaxation positions; and the all-important post-natal exercises you will need to get your figure back.

  • Pre-natal exercises
  • Relaxation
  • Postnatal exercises
  • Sensible eating

What you will learn...

Stretching & Pregnancy, the book

Jennifer tells her story of the birth of Anreas, her son (three-and-a-half hours labour) and a beautiful girl named Pernille (two hours labour).

The book has comprehensive photographs and text descriptions of all the recommended exercises.

The second edition is simply a new cover to match the look of Kit’s other two books, and a new preface, commenting on the intervening 15 years. Holders of the original edition need not update.

How the book is set out

Chapter 1 – Prenatal exercises
These are divided into two parts:

• the strengthening movements, including exercises for the ankles, hips, and legs; and
• the flexibility exercises.

The bulk of Chapter 1 is devoted to the flexibility exercises—which include various stretches for people of different levels of flexibility and strength. It also includes stretches for parts of the body that are likely to have an adverse effect on your posture during pregnancy, as well as stretches for those muscles in the hips that, if tight, can lead to sciatica-like conditions. Chapter 1 also includes exercises designed to relieve backache.

Chapter 2 – Relaxation
The chapter begins with a short section discussing the importance of relaxation and a relaxation script: you could have a friend record this if you wish,

The second part of Chapter 2 shows you the most effective relaxation positions. Lying on your back face up (the standard recommended position for relaxation) can be anything but comfortable as the pregnancy progresses. It can also restrict the flow of blood to the placenta, and hence to the foetus. Jennifer will show you some alternative comfortable positions in which you can do your relaxation practice.

The last part of Chapter 2 shows Jennifer’s preferred birth positions, which include all of the standard recommendations and a few innovative ones as well.

Chapter 3 – Postnatal exercises
An emphasis here on tightening both the muscles of the pelvic floor and the muscles of the waist, so that you can regain your function and figure as speedily as possible.

This is not just a cosmetic consideration. Much recent research has shown that regaining strength in the abdominal ‘corset’ (as this complex group of muscles is sometimes named) will provide necessary support for the lower back. Everyone knows that back pain is a common occurrence following birth, but few people are aware that the main reason for the back problems is a combination of tightened hip flexor muscles (the muscles that lift your thigh towards your chest) and tightened lumbar (lower back) muscles, together with weakened and lengthened abdominal muscles. Chapter 3 shows you how to regain the strength in the abdominal muscles and how to stretch the tight muscles very effectively.

Chapter 4 – Sensible Eating
A discussion of what we have found to be the most effective dietary recommendations – bearing in mind the need for adequate nutrition for the foetus before birth, the desire to breastfeed effectively after delivery, and the importance of regaining your former shape after pregnancy and labour. The path to good nutrition and maximising lean muscle mass is a simple, commonsense approach to eating that is both delicious and nutritious.

As your baby continues to grow and your body changes, doing these exercises will help to ‘centre’ you and keep you focussed on this incredible transformation. Stretching will also help you get to know your body, and the most important benefit of this is the realisation that your body has a remarkable ability to heal itself.

As you learn to stretch, you begin to understand that you can work through discomfort or pain. If you have a strained muscle, you realise it will heal in time. Most importantly though, you learn to trust your body, and this is the most beneficial out-come of all. As you approach labour it is important to be confident and know that you have physically prepared yourself to the best of your ability. When the momentous occasion of giving birth comes, you will have the tools to help you relax, to move freely and to ‘breathe’ your baby into the world.

Jennifer Cristaudo – Australia