Exercise is very important during your pregnancy, not only to get your body ready for birth but also to help with controlling your weight and health.
We all know that walking is the best exercise during pregnancy. If you were running or jogging PRIOR to becoming pregnant it is safe to continue that program while pregnant. It is important to not start training for jogging or running during your pregnancy. And always check with your provider on what exercises are the safest for you.
Swimming is also a great exercise. If you know that your baby is breech or transverse, it is important to not do any frog kicking, or breast stroke kicking. These types of kicks move the baby further down and may prevent the baby from turning correctly. If you are less than 32 weeks pregnant any type of swimming and kicking would probably be okay. After 32 weeks make sure that your baby is at least head down before continuing breast stroke kicks. Stick with flutter kick as much as you can.
Squatting is one of the most important specific exercises that you can do. Since we know that birthing and pushing in an upright position opens your pelvis by 30% more than lying flat on your back or reclining it is important to build those muscles to hold you upright as much as possible. Squatting is can be very uncomfortable since we are not used to sitting like this in our culture. Our ankle joints have basically lost the groove created by squatting after childhood and regaining the strength in the ankles takes time and dedication. Start by just squatting a few minutes a day. You can lean your back up against the couch or wall for support. Keep your knees wide and your feet pointed outwards to put less stress on your body. Keep changing positions until you find one that is comfortable.
Most women are told to do Kegal exercises (pelvic floor strengthening) so they can more easily push out their baby. However, if the pelvic floor is weak due to weak gluteal muscles then there is no amount of Kegal exercises that will save you. Having a ‘flat butt’ or no gluteal muscles is a sign that your pelvic floor is very weak and you need to do squats in order to regain that strength. I think of Kegal’s and squatting as antagonistic muscles and both need to be exercised equally. Just like you wouldn’t lift weights to only strengthen your biceps, you would also work on your triceps, both of these exercises need to be performed daily.
Lastly, stretching is also very important. Stretch your hips, knees, pelvis, legs, and low back. Any basic prenatal yoga class will be beneficial for you. Make sure that you have your provider’s permission and work slowly. Attend a class with a yoga practitioner to ensure your form is stable and will not cause you any pain. If you choose to use a video at home start by only doing 10 to 15 minutes before working into an hour program.
Exercises to avoid: Avoid any push-up’s, plank positions, sit-ups, or motions that require you to use your abdominal muscles. This will prevent damaging diastasis from occurring.