While times have changed, the rules of labor and delivery have not. So what’s the number one rule of labor you need to follow? Despite what myths about delivery you may have heard, it doesn’t matter if you’re having your first or your third child. What makes you the most equipped to deliver with as much ease as possible are those stretches you’re doing long before the contractions start.

Don’t whimper thinking about a painful, agonizing labor because we’ve got you covered. Here are the best exercises and stretches to make you fit, strong and well equipped to handle that moment of your life you won’t soon forget!

The Classic Labor Exercise: The Cat Pose

A recent study in England demonstrated that exercise, and in particular, stretching the pelvic region can decrease the length of time you are in labor. In fact, 38 percent of women who didn’t exercise while pregnant endured a longer labor, and more strenuous, active pushing than those who exercised from week 20, on.

Otherwise known as the pelvic tilt, this may be a familiar pose for any yoga guru (and when it comes to giving birth, there’s no better stretch to get you going!) Just like a cat, you’ll want to get down on your hands and knees. Make sure that your posture is correct by having a straight back, and with your palms firmly pressed down on the floor.

Taking a breath in, focus on tightening your abdomen muscles. As you breathe in, curl your back up as a cat does when frightened. Clench your buttocks and make continue your breath until your back is rounded, and you’ve tightened your back side as much as possible! Breathe out, and relax all of the muscles in your back, and your body. Repeat for as many times as you can.

The Cobbler Stance

When it comes to an easier, faster (and let’s face it, painless as possible!) labor and delivery, the trick is an open pelvis. The more flexible your hips and joints are, the better you’ll be prepared for labor, and when you do this exercise daily (especially during your last trimester), you can rest assured – labor will be easier than you think.

Start by resting your back against a wall, and sit down with what’s similar to the ‘Indian Style’ pose; but instead of crossing your legs, just keep the soles of your feet touching instead of crossing them entirely. Begin to slowly press your knees down as far as they will go. Use your hands to push your knees with a controlled, slow motion as far as you are comfortable.

Squat Your Heart Out

Squatting isn’t just for toning your thighs while pregnant; studies show that it does just as much for your pelvis so that your labor can move along without a hitch. Use the back of a chair to give you support, and begin by relaxing your back and shoulders. Making sure your legs are shoulder width apart, tighten your core.

Deeply inhale and lower yourself as you act as though you’re about to sit down in a chair.  In a slow and controlled motion, lower yourself down until you are at a sitting position. Lift yourself back up (by holding the back of your chair for support if needed) and repeat.

From stretching to squatting, your upcoming labor is in your hands. Why not face your upcoming big day with a strong, flexible and fit body that transforms a long, drawn out labor with a quick, ‘get to it!’ event? Spend just 20 minutes a day stretching and squatting your heart out, and you can transform your labor experience altogether!