Is it safe to workout during labour?

 Photo: Instagram @bubs2bikinis

While most mums spend labour huffing and puffing, some go a step further to get their hearts racing.

That's what Melbourne mum Anna Strode from bubs2bikinis did when she was about to give birth.

She used her time at hospital to squeeze in one last workout, and posted a video of it to Instagram.

"My last #pregnancyworkout was at the hospital just hours before we met our gorgeous Madi Grace," read the caption.

"We were in the ward waiting for contractions to ramp up and a delivery suite to become available so we could meet our sweet baby girl."

That workout included squats, lunges and tricep dips and has been viewed over 65,000 times.


My last #pregnancyworkout was at the hospital just hours before we met our gorgeous Madi Grace 🎀✨💕 We were on the ward waiting for contractions to ramp up and a delivery suite to become available so we could meet our sweet baby girl 👑🌸 Speaking of delivery suites, guess what - our little Madi Grace was born in the EXACT same room as Lachie and Sammy. The hospital is big and has over 20 delivery suites but it just so happened that they were all welcomed into the world in the same room 😍 how cool is that!!! #workout #pregnancy #inspirepregnancy #fitmom #fitmum #fitmomsofig #pregnancyexercise #fitpregnancy This video is exclusively managed by Caters News. To license or use in a commercial player please contact or call +44 121 616 1100 / +1 646 380 1615

A post shared by Anna Strode (@bubs2bikinis) on

But is exercising during labour a good idea?

Certainly, exercising before the big day is, says women's health physiotherapist Shira Kramer, Founder and Managing Director of BeActive Physio.


She says exercising during pregnancy helps prepare your body for the work of labour.

It also increases your confidence in your body's ability, along with your muscle strength.

She likens childbirth to a marathon.

"You would never turn up to a marathon without training for it.

"Same goes for labour; it's a good idea to prepare for it physically - and mentally."

But doing an actual, heart-thumping workout during labour isn't a good idea, says Kramer, who notes: "Labour is a workout in itself!"

In fact, she says, working out before giving birth can actually slow your labour down.

When you exercise, your body releases adrenaline.

That hormone tries to close your cervix. And we all know you need your cervix to open during labour, not closed.

In order to labour effectively, she says it's best for our bodies to "physically relax".

She also believes we need to save our energy for the pushing stage.

Midwife Amanda Bude from Groovy Babies agrees.

"Postpartum exhaustion is hard enough let alone adding physical soreness from too many squats!"

Plus, there are times when exercising can be unsafe or not possible.

Consequently, before attempting any exercises during labour, talk to your doctor or health care professional.

While both experts agree you shouldn't actually 'exercise' in labour, they say there are movements that can assist the birthing process.

Upright movements are best, says Kramer.

She says when your body is upright it can reduce your risk of having a forceps delivery, increase your chances of having an intact perineum and shorten the length of labour.

Amanda agrees.

"Definitely being upright in labour is known to help move the baby into optimal birth position."

If you feel up to it, Kramer suggests doing supported squats (where you hold onto a bar or a support person) or wall ball squats (where you squat with a ball behind your back).

Amanda also recommends going up and down the stairs, slow dancing (moving side to side), or doing sideways squats.

Gentle, rhythmical movements of the pelvis can also help with labour pain, says Kramer, especially if you have lower back or pelvic girdle pain.

Moving your pelvis can also help guide your baby towards your pelvic outlet, thereby helping labour progress.

Kramer recommends trying 'tilts' (where you tilt the pelvis back and forwards); circles and 'figure 8's' (where you 'draw' the figure 8 with your pelvis).

If you don't feel up to trying any specific exercises, simply moving around when in labour can be an effective distraction mechanism.

It can also relax you, Amanda says. And the more relaxed you are, the "more smoothly" labour can progress.

The experts agree you shouldn't do a 'workout' during labour.

As Kramer points out, you're better off saving that energy for when it comes to push.

But if you find a movement that helps relieve your pain or distracts you from contractions then, she says, by all means, do what feels right for you.

"[Women] need to be encouraged during labour to listen to their instincts."