Pregnancy transforms your life in every possible way. Aside from the obvious addition to your family, your mind and body also go through a complete makeover during this time. And while these changes are entirely normal and expected, it’s only natural to wonder if there is something you can do about the less attractive ones. The good news is – there are many things you can do, and taking care of your body by working out is on top of the list! Still, since this is a highly delicate period for both you and the baby, you need to be selective about how you engage your muscles. With that said, here are 7 core exercises to perform while pregnant.
Why are core exercises important during pregnancy?
Many women exercise during pregnancy in hopes of helping their bodies return to their former glory. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, working out while expecting has many other, arguably more important benefits.
Core exercises imply the movement and strengthening of abdominal and back muscles. A strong core can help you feel more confident and enable you to carry your baby with more comfort and ease. Moreover, these kinds of exercises prove to be very beneficial when the time comes to push and even recover after giving birth.
Tips for exercising during pregnancy
Now that you are aware of the advantages of engaging your muscles and moving your body while pregnant, you are probably eager to put on your maternity workout clothes and crank up your favorite music. However, as you probably already know, any activity in this state must be accompanied by a healthy dose of caution. Here are a few tips to help you and the baby stay happy and healthy.
- Before committing to an exercise routine, make sure to consult with your doctor.
- It is completely fine and recommended to start as soon as possible.
- Stop as soon as anything causes discomfort or pain.
- Always warm up before and cool down after exercising.
- Do not overdo it – shorter daily sessions are best.
- Drink plenty of water and wear comfortable clothing.
Although it probably doesn’t seem like much of an exercise, diaphragmatic breathing is incredibly beneficial during pregnancy. It can provide more oxygen for your baby and even reduce contractions and pain levels during labor.
Sitting or lying inclined, depending on what feels more comfortable. Start the exercise by breathing normally. Then, put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a deep breath through your nose and let your belly expand, keeping your chest still. Tighten your abs while exhaling through the mouth. Keep your shoulders, neck, and back straight and relaxed, and repeat the exercise for five to ten minutes. Always imagine that on each breathing you are hugging your baby with your core muscles as you exhale.
Kegels are one of the best core exercises to perform while pregnant whenever you add it when exerting while you perform an exercise or a conscious movement that involves effort. A simple Kegel will not cause long-term improvement or strengthening of the pelvic floor, but if you do it with intention that is something else. For example, when doing a squat, when standing up from a chair or going upstairs, while squeezing a ball between your legs or pulling from a resistance band if you are exercising… The key is to integrate the traditional Kegel exercise in your daily workout routine. That will make the difference!
A strong but flexible pelvic floor prevents many potential issues that can arise during pregnancy. That is why is so important to visit also a women’s health physiotherapist, to make sure the muscles are strong and healthy instead of weak or hypertonic.
This yoga pose will provide some much-needed back pain relief. It is one of the safest exercises to perform during pregnancy. However, if you feel any discomfort, make sure to stop and rest.
To do the cat-cow stretch, get on your hands and knees. Slowly arch your back and lift your head toward the ceiling while inhaling. Then, steadily exhale while rounding your back and moving your head toward the floor. Repeat as many times as it feels comfortable.
Planks are a fantastic way to strengthen your abdominal muscles. The modified version of this exercise is recommended during pregnancy. Experts always recommend performing side planks, first with lower knee down until you feel strong enough to do it without, instead of a front plank to reduce unwanted intra-abdominal pressure as it will worsen Diastasis Recti if you are not able to engage properly making you feel uncomfortable.
In case you are strong already and feel familiarized with planks, try the front plank but on your elbows and forearms and lower your knees on a mat. Keep your body straight and hold the position from a few seconds to a minute, depending on how comfortable you feel. Your hips shouldn’t be lower than your shoulders. It’s always more recommended to perform a front plank on the wall in case you feel you are not able to engage enough your core.
During pregnancy, squats, lunges, deadlifts, hip thrust… are a must. These are top exercises to maintain strength and range of motion in the hips, glutes, core, and pelvic floor muscles. They can also help you get back to your pre-pregnancy weight much faster if losing weight after pregnancy worries you.
As pregnancy progresses, many pregnant women can experience a more extreme anterior pelvic tilt as their baby bellies grow. This tilt put extra pressure on the low back causing among other chronic lower back pain, beginning of sciatic pain, worsening Diastais Recti separation, pressure on the pelvic floor due to the imbalance of the pelvis plus stiffness in the hamstrings
Glute exercises, when performed correctly, they will help improve posture, a strong core helping to control DR and they have the potential to assist with the birthing process.
In Le Fit Mom you’ll find exercises that can help you maintain your figure and health before, during, and after this special period.
The bird dog exercise is an excellent addition to your pregnancy workout routine if you need to work on your stability and core strength.
Again, you need to get down on your hands and knees for this exercise. Your shoulders should be in line with your hands and your hips with your knees. Once you are in position, take a deep breath and extend your right arm and left leg while exhaling engaging your core muscles and adding a kegel at the same time. Hold for a couple of seconds and repeat with your left arm and right leg.
Pelvic tilts are another exercise that will help relieve back pain during pregnancy and prepare your body for delivery at the same time than keeping your core strong and your body aligned. They are the best ally during contractions, helping to manage the pain, for the correct position of the baby and in the dilatation stage. And the good news is that this is the easiest exercise to perform anytime, anywhere! You could do it facing the wall, standing with your hands toward the wall or using the bed or a chair, even your partner shoulders. Also from the all four position or sitting on a swiss ball. For example, from the all for position;
1. Begin on all fours with hands in line under shoulders and knees under hips. Your pelvis should be in neutral (not rounding, not arching).
2. Inhale. Exhale to engage the core and pelvic floor, creating a sensation that you’re lifting and tucking your pelvis to bring the public bone toward your ribcage. Pause. Keep the rest of the body still to isolate the pelvis.
3. Inhale, and return to neutral.
Repeat as many times as you like and feel comfortable.
These core exercises to perform while pregnant will not only help you maintain your figure, but they’ll also ensure good posture and easier and more comfortable pregnancy and delivery. Remember to listen to your body at all times and never push yourself to perform workouts that feel too straining. Adjust your routine according to your current state, and make sure to enjoy your sessions. Only this way will you be able to reap the maximum benefits of staying active throughout this magical period.