Being pregnant is a physical stressor in itself and to keep exercising, or to add on exercise during pregnancy can just add to the stress. BUT this is a good and necessary stressor to have during pregnancy. Definitely consult your OB-GYN or midwife before starting or continuing your exercise regimen for any contraindications. A typical rule of thumb is whatever exercise you have been doing pre-pregnancy can be continued and just modified. You don’t want to add too much NEW exercise in pregnancy because it would be like adding a new stressor to your body on top of the pregnancy. Obviously that does not mean don’t exercise if you haven’t been exercising, but there are certain exercises you can do that are beneficial and safe during pregnancy. Exercising in pregnancy can help with your insulin control; which is important in preventing gestational diabetes. It also helps to keep your core strong to prevent diastasis recti, back pain and improve posture. Getting your blood flowing helps to increase your energy, mood, sleep and endurance. The more active you are the better it will improve your labor and even recovery.
The number one easiest and best thing you can do/start is simply walking. Walking 20-30min everyday will help keep your oxygen and blood flowing well. It will help strengthen your core and pelvic muscles without you really even thinking about it. Walking by yourself or with your partner outside will help you get fresh air, de-stress and just enjoy each other’s company. Try to get your walking/exercise in before 2pm so it does not interfere with your sleep. Best would be in the morning to kick start your day!
- Keep your legs straight, use your full stride and keep your torso/core straight.
- Heel strike first and push off from your toes.
- Walking close to barefoot would be best but nothing with a wedge or heel. Make sure they are comfortable with room for your toes.
- Be sure that if you’re walking on the road, try not to walk where the sides slant or dip in. This may cause an imbalance in your walk. If you do walk on the side on the road that slants, be sure to walk back on the opposite side to at least balance out the other hip/leg.
Ina May Gaskin actually suggested that women do 300 squats per day and you’ll give birth quickly! Squats are such a great overall exercise that engages core, pelvic muscles and strengthens the legs as well. Squats during labor actually help to open the pelvis for baby so make sure you’ve got this exercise down before birth! Now if you've been doing deep squats before pregnancy it's okay to continue them. If you HAVE NOT been doing deep squats, don't perform them until 36 weeks. Starting at 36 weeks you can slowly ease into deep squats to prep your pelvis even more for birth.
- It’s harder to do in properly in pregnancy with our center of gravity shifting forwards. I recommend supporting with a chair or rolling a towel or half moon foam roller under the heels.
- Place your arms out in front of you for balance, on an inhale breath bend your knees and lead with your butt out and back. Toes are pointing slightly outwards and chin stays vertical.
- You’re going to drive through your heels and exhale as you stand up.
- Only go as low as you’re comfortable without tucking your tailbone under.
- Use a mirror to watch yourself from the side first.
- Let your butt and hamstrings (back of thighs) do most of the work instead of your quadriceps (front of thighs).
If you’re sitting at a desk all day it’s very important to have some dynamic motion in the hips. This is easily fixed by swapping out your office chair for a exercise ball. This is good to do at home too not just at a desk. Sitting on an exercise ball, keep your back straight and let the abdomen become a hammock for the baby. Sitting on the ball will help your hips stay fluid and moving. Make sure if you are at a desk all day to take micro break every 30min-1 hour and get up and move around.
Pelvic tilts are probably the easiest and one of my favorite stretches to do at the end of the day. They’re great for when your back and hips are tired and achy. This is your “Cat Cow” poses in yoga.
- If your wrists are hurting you can go down your elbows or lean over a exercise ball or soft chair. That way you’re not putting full body weight on your wrists.
- You can also use a cushion for your knees if they are bothering you.
- It’s best to do on carpet or a yoga mat.
- Make sure when you start that you have a flat back and arching up into “Cat” then returning to a flat back before repeating.
- Perform everyday for at least 2-3 minutes.
Things to AVOID
It’s very important you check your core for a separation or diastasis recti before performing certain core exercises. The exercises mentioned above are perfectly safe for someone with diastasis recti, just use caution with the pelvic tilts. We will cover diastasis recti and how to check if you have one in a separate blog and video (check out our Facebook page) soon. But for now, if you know you have a separation,
- Any kind of abdominal crunch
- Straight leg lifts
- Getting straight up from a lying down position. Always turn on your side first.
- Heavy lifting (you shouldn’t be lifting anything over 25lbs).
Hopefully these simple exercises and tips will get you started on getting movement in your body! As always if you have questions or want to know more about exercises you can do feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!