Childbirth is more like a marathon than a sprint. Well… maybe it’s more like an Ironman challenge. Just like you’d train for any other major activity, you might want to consider training for labor. The better prepped you are for the big push, the easier it will be on your body. And, bonus, you may even feel less pain during labor (at least, slightly less) and have a quicker post-preggo body rebound time.

A pregnant woman holds a pose on a yoga mat

1. Talk to the doc. Start with your medical provider. Chances are they’ll be okay with you doing some pregnancy-appropriate exercises during your nine months. But some conditions may mean that getting active is a major no-no. Since you’re an individual with individual needs, there’s no all-encompassing workout routine that’s safe for you and every other soon-to-be mama out there. Give your doc the lowdown on your workout plans, and wait for the green light.

2. De-stress and tone up. Yoga is totally relaxing right now, and you need a mega-dose of relaxation time. Between the baby shower, a zillion doctor’s appointments, getting the nursery ready, making sure that all of those odds and ends are tied up at work, and everything else you have going on, you need time to chill. Yoga will help — in spades. It will also help you build muscle tone, work on your breathing, and get your body ready for childbirth. But before joining any ol’ yoga class, pick one that’s specifically for pregnant people, ensuring the instructor has training and experience in teaching students who are expecting.

3. Get in the pool. That achy back of yours just can’t handle sitting or standing for one more minute. That’s okay: Swimming takes the pressure off! Your baby is being gently cradled in the warm pool of your amniotic sac right now. So go ahead and join in too. Even though you’re not completely weightless in the water, you’ll definitely feel like you weigh less.

A pregnant woman walks energetically across a field

4. Walk it out. Looking for a low-cost way to build up your strength and stamina? Well, this is a no-cost option. Put on comfy shoes that give your feet (and pregnant body) plenty of support, and walk around your neighborhood for a half hour or so. You can also sneak in your walking workouts during your work lunch break or in the morning before you really start your day.

5. Hire a trainer. You’re not exactly a “gym person.” Actually, you haven’t been inside of a gym since your high school days. Given that you might not be a workout queen, you need help. That’s where a pro comes in: Hire an expert in pregnancy exercise. Make sure that your trainer knows the preggo landscape and can safely guide you through workout after workout.

6. Work out whenever. You have zero free time. Between grocery shopping, work, household chores, and the rest of your busy life, you couldn’t possibly squeeze in a workout, even if it means making labor easier. But wait! You did say you had to buy groceries for dinner. Instead of parking in those sweet preggo spaces the store gives you, park farther away — much farther away. Sneak in extra exercise whenever you can. Whether it’s walking to the store, going up the stairs instead of taking an elevator, or doing squats as you return emails, you’ll find plenty of ways to fit workouts into your day.

7. Stretch it out. Building muscle mass is great and all, but it’s not the only thing when it comes to prepping for childbirth. Get that flexy sense of give with some simple stretching every day. When your legs are up in the stirrups and the nurses are helping you push your knees against your thighs, you’ll be totally thankful that you did.

What’s your favorite pregnancy exercise? Tweet us your pick @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)