The weight of your growing belly can pull your shoulders forward, tightening the muscles in your chest. These stretches can help loosen up your tight chest muscles and relax your shoulders. Remember, stretch only to the point where you feel a mild tension; then relax as you hold the stretch. Never bounce. Breathe slowly and naturally while stretching and do not hold your breath.
Chest stretch #1. Stand with your head upright and with your back straight. Clasp your hands behind your back and, without leaning your shoulders forward, gently stretch your arms up and back to feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders and arms. Hold for 10 seconds; then relax.
Chest stretch #2. Stand in front of a doorway. Place both hands at shoulder height on either side of the doorway. Move your upper body forward until you feel a comfortable stretch. (Keep your chest and head up and knees slightly bent.) Hold for 15 seconds; then relax.
Shoulder stretch #1. Sit or stand with your arms hanging loosely at sides. Shrug shoulders up. Hold for 5 seconds; then relax your shoulders downward.
Shoulder stretch #2. Stand or sit. Place your right hand on your left shoulder. With your left hand, pull your right elbow across your chest toward your left shoulder. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds; then relax. Repeat on the other side.
Excerpted from You & Your Baby: Pregnancy. (c) Copyright Meredith Corporation 2006. All rights reserved. You & Your Baby is a trademark of Meredith Corporation.