6 Hip-Opening Stretches To Do During Pregnancy - Baby Chick
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6 Hip-Opening Stretches To Do During Pregnancy

Learn how to do six hip-opening stretches for pregnancy, including images and step-by-step instructions to help you perform them properly.

Updated July 11, 2024

by Nina Spears

The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert

Stretching and exercise are so important during pregnancy. Why, do you ask? Now that you’re carrying extra weight and fluids, it can make you feel sore, tired, and downright uncomfortable.1,2 Stretching during your pregnancy helps relieve your aching joints, reduces muscle tension, relieves lower back pain, increases flexibility, helps you relax, and, BEST of all, better prepares you for childbirth.3 You can benefit from these hip-opening stretches when you’re preparing to give birth. What pregnant mama doesn’t want that?!

It’s time to prepare your body for labor by incorporating specific hip stretches into your prenatal workout routine. Remember that the hormones released into your body during pregnancy naturally loosen ligaments in your joints. This is intended to aid childbirth but also leaves you more prone to injuries.4 So, get your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise regimen during pregnancy. If you experience any discomfort in your hips, stop exercising. Do not stretch a sore muscle. If there’s any pain, talk to your doctor.

6 Hip-Opening Stretches for Pregnancy

Here’s a step-by-step guide on six hip-opening stretches you can do to prepare for childbirth:

1. Butterfly / Tailor Pose

A pregnant woman doing the Butterfly / Tailor Pose

This is a fantastic hip-opening stretch for the inner thighs, hips, and groin.3,5,6 This pose helps widen your hips, but it also helps ease aches in your lower back.6 Here’s how to do it:

  1. While sitting on the ground, bring the soles of your shoes or feet together, allowing your knees to point out to each side.
  2. Grasping your feet or ankles, draw both heels in as close to your body as is comfortable.
  3. Lean forward slightly and hold that position. Focus on taking big, deep belly breaths.
  4. For an even deeper stretch, press your thighs down with your hands or elbows to bring your knees closer to the ground. Hold that pose, and focus on the stretch and your breath.

2. Squats / Garland Pose

A pregnant woman doing Squats / Garland Pose.

Squats help strengthen your thighs and open up your pelvis in preparation for childbirth.7,8 Midwife Ina May Gaskin said, “Squat 300 times a day, and you’re going to give birth quickly.”9 If I were pregnant, that’d be enough motivation for me! Follow these steps to do this pose:

quote from Ina May Gaskin: "squat 300 times a day, you're going to give birth quickly"
  1. Stand with your feet facing forward or slightly outward, shoulder-width or slightly wider than hip distance, apart.
  2. Slowly and fluidly bend your knees and lower your body, extending the arms out in front for balance, if helpful.
  3. Balance your weight on the balls of your heels and pause.
  4. Breathe and slowly rise back up, and then repeat the action.

3. Hip Flexor Stretch

A pregnant woman doing Hip Flexor Stretches.

The hip flexors are the muscles at the top of your thighs that allow you to lift your knees and bend at the waist.10,11 Here’s how to do the hip flexor stretch:

  1. Kneel on your right knee and put your left foot in front of you so your leg forms a right angle.
  2. Put your left hand on your left thigh for balance, and put your right hand on your right hip or also on your left thigh.
  3. While keeping your back straight, lean forward and shift your body weight to the forward leg. You will feel the stretch in the right thigh.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.

4. Pigeon

A pregnant woman doing the pigeon stretch.

With the pigeon pose, you can use a yoga strap or yoga brick to help you ease into this hip stretch until your flexibility increases. To do this pose, follow these steps:

  1. Sit on your mat with one leg extended behind you.
  2. Bend your front leg to 90 degrees and, if sitting on a mat, walk your foot to the inside edge of your mat.
  3. Inhale as you lay your knee down flat (at the opposite edge of the mat).
  4. Hold for a few minutes and repeat on the other side.

5. Figure 4

A pregnant woman doing the Figure 4 stretch.

This stretch is an excellent way to release the hips and tight glutes!12 You’ll be amazed by how much easier you can move — and deeper you can squat! Here’s how you do it:

  1. Start lying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Lift your right leg and cross the right ankle over the knee.
  3. Reach your hands around the left leg to meet under the thigh (as shown).
  4. Draw your left thigh toward you while keeping your torso pressed against the floor.
  5. Use your right elbow to gently press the right knee away from you as you draw your thigh in closer.
  6. Hold for three to five breaths, deepening the stretch with every exhale, then switch sides.

6. Seated Straddle

A pregnant woman doing the seated straddle stretch.

Follow these steps to do the seated saddle stretch:

  1. Extend both legs out wide with your feet flexed.
  2. Press your pelvis and hamstrings into the floor to help straighten your spine.
  3. Stay in this position if this is enough of a stretch for the backs of your legs, or walk your hands out in front of you.

What Happens if You Don’t Stretch?

Remember, stretching during pregnancy helps protect your freedom of movement and prevent muscle injury. It’s important to keep your muscles and joints strong and flexible for easier labor. If you don’t stretch during your pregnancy:

  • You could reduce your joint range of motion.19
  • You could make your muscles short and tight so they function less efficiently.14
  • It can lead to spinal misalignment, which can cause mild to severe back pain and lead specific muscle groups to tighten.21 Over time, spinal misalignment can distort the shapes of major muscle groups.

Other Benefits of Hip-Opening Stretches

Here are some other benefits of doing hip-opening stretches during pregnancy:

  • It helps bring oxygenated blood into your muscles to give you more energy and help flush out toxins and lactic acid, so you’ll experience less muscle soreness.10,13,17
  • If done correctly with deep breathing, stretching also helps bring more oxygen to your baby to help them grow.13
  • It helps keep you loose, calm, and relaxed.3
  • It keeps you flexible.3,5
  • Stretching before and after exercise might prevent injury and sore muscles (though there’s some debate about this).14,15,16
  • It helps relieve physical and mental tension.6,18
  • It helps lengthen your muscles to enhance your flexibility permanently.
  • Stretching regularly helps lubricate your joints so they move smoothly and without pain.19,20
  • Stretching regularly gives you greater freedom of movement.16
  • It helps counterbalance the biochemical effects that pregnancy can have on your body.
  • It can also help you cope with pregnancy’s psychological and emotional stress.
  • It can get you into the habit of taking time out for yourself to rest and rejuvenate before the demands of parenting become overwhelming. Once your baby arrives, you’ll remember that you need to take care of yourself to be able to take care of them.

The list goes on and on! So, stretch those hips and pelvis, ladies! You won’t regret it.

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Nina Spears The Baby Chick®: Pregnancy, Birth & Postpartum Expert
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Nina is The Baby Chick® & Editor-in-Chief of Baby Chick®. She received her baby planning certification in early 2011 and began attending births that same year. Since then, Nina has… Read more

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