It still baffles me why people are so anti exercise during pregnancy! I mean, it’s not like our bodies are going to get bigger, and heavier and change shape! Oh no wait, they are going to do all of these things, so surely it makes sense to work with your body to help prepare for the changes, and have the strength and stamina required to adapt to the new challenges.
With my antenatal clients, I try to keep legs nice and strong (these are carrying us around each and every day), I maintain a good strong back (have you seen what pregnancy can do to a weak back!!!!!) and I try and get creative with maintaining some core strength and stability (this is going to help with labour and recovery within the postpartum phase).
Some great exercises that you can do all the way through pregnancy are squats, lunges, step ups, inner and outer thighs and curtsy lunges. So theres lots that we can use right? Now we may need to adapt these slightly, for example, we may want to do wall squats using an exercise ball rather than a traditional squat. These allow the lady to be more upright, accommodating room for her bump (it also activates the core so win win). Lunges can be done with one hand on the wall, because we all know our balance isn’t what it used to be before pregnancy.
How many pregnant Women have you heard complain of back ache? Too many to count? This is because the spine is placed under enormous amounts of stress during pregnancy. As the hormone Relaxin is release, muscles, joints and ligaments start to soften, everywhere, so the back, which everything comes off (your head, legs and arms) is already weakened. Then add extra weight in an increase in breast size and weight, and then the growing uterus, your back is now in a very vulnerable
position. So surely it makes sense to keep working these muscles to maintain ample strength and stability. Exercises I like to do are floor rows and flys, these are great because you always have 3 points of contact on the floor, giving support and ensuring correct positioning and technique. Another exercise I like to do is deadlifts. Now don’t panic when you hear the word deadlift. I’m not talking heavy weights! But by using weights, just heavy enough (remember this is different for every person) this maintains the stability of the lower back.
Now you have probably heard sit ups are now no good for you. And yes I agree with that. Depending on the size of your bump it can seem pretty impossible to do anyways, but you really want to limit time where you are lay down on your back. Now this just means that we need to get a little bit more creative with our core exercises, because we do still want to activate your core. Some examples I use are; halos (rotating a weight around your head), side planks, side bends, resistance bands and pole pushes. So again, we have a few options and this list isn’t exhausted.
It is really important that we still activate our core muscles. They are placed under a lot of pressure during pregnancy and we need to maintain strength there. This will help support your baby during pregnancy, assist in getting the baby out during labour, as it will help the muscles return to their pre-pregnancy state quicker within the postpartum period.
NB The exercises mentioned within this post are just some examples of what you can include into your pregnancy training. You should always work with a trained professional during pregnancy, know your body and listen to it and always listen to advise from your midwife.