Read these 11 Pregnancy Exercises Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Balance tips and hundreds of other topics.
Get on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders, and with your and knees directly under hips. Make sure your back is neither swayed nor rounded – keep a neutral spinal position. Keeping your abs tight, lift and straighten one leg while reaching the opposite arm forward, so that you form half of an “X”. Keeping both your raised leg and your raised arm in line with the torso, and try to maintain your balance as you alternate sides.
Get on your hands and knees with your hands shoulder-width apart and directly under your shoulders, and with your and knees directly under hips. Make sure your back is neither swayed nor rounded – keep a neutral spinal position. Inhale and contract your abs as you extend your right leg out, lifting it until it is in line with your hips. Exhale and return to start, repeating on the left side. Repeat eight to ten times on each side.
Firm yet cushioned, birthing balls enable freedom of movement while simulating the squatting position, thus encouraging the baby to move further down into the pelvis. Exercise balls, as birthing balls, can also be used to support the upper body while on your hands and knees, which is often the best position to help rotate the baby from a persistent posterior position. Moreover, the ability to bounce up and down, and simply rearrange her body, on an exercise ball, can give a woman in labor a greater sense of control and comfort.
Sit on the floor with legs extended and set slightly further apart than your hips; have your feet flexed. Stretch your arms out to the sides, parallel to the floor. Originating the movement from your core, twist your torso to the left while bringing the fingers of your right hand toward the toes of your left foot. Exhale and stretch gently through your chest. Inhale, pull your abs in, sit up, and repeat the move on the other side. Repeat eight to ten times on each side. Do your best not to do all the work with your arms.
As with any pregnancy exercise, talk to your doctor before you begin Pilates or continue with it if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. If you are a beginner, start with an entry-level class or video, and make sure your instructor knows you are pregnant so she can offer exercise modifications. If you are using a video, try one that states it is appropriate for pregnancy. A few physiological notes about your body during pregnancy, and considerations that they require: lying on your back can cut off the oxygen supply to the baby, especially as the baby grows and takes up more space in your abdomen. Therefore, avoid moves performed in the supine position during your second and third trimesters. Also, your ligaments will loosen during pregnancy, so keep your movements controlled and move within a comfortable range of motion. Finally, do not hold your breath, and never do any exercise that causes dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, or pain.
Sit on an exercise ball or a chair and extend your arms out to the sides, at shoulder height. Exhale as you gently turn your torso to the right, drawing the ribcage to the opposite hip and look at your right hand. Exhale and repeat on the other side. Repeat eight to ten times on each side. A tip: to make sure your torso is doing the turning work (and not your shoulders or neck), keep looking ahead, with your chin in line with your breastbone.
Pilates strengthens the most important muscles you'll use during pregnancy and labor: your abdominals, pelvic muscles and back. Pilates is ideal for pregnant women because the dynamic moves help build muscular endurance, which will be in high demand during labor and delivery, flexibility and good balance, which becomes increasingly important as pregnancy progresses. Because the moves are so controlled, Pilates allows you time to adjust your posture and alignment for maximum support and the appropriate level of challenge. You don't need special equipment (other than a mat) to get a great workout, and though it's always better to take a class taught by an expert, there are books and videos available so you can do it at home on your own time. One thing to note: many traditional Pilates exercises are performed either lying on your back or stomach, so seek out instruction that is specifically geared toward pregnancy so you can avoid these positions.
Lie on your side, resting your head on your outstretched arm. Bend your bottom leg slightly. Keeping your abs tight to hold your torso steady, exhale and extend the top leg forward until your knee and foot are in line with your hip (or as far as comfortable). Go back to starting position and repeat three to four times before switching sides. Make sure you maintain neutral posture as the leg moves forward.
Five basic Pilates moves that are straightforward enough for you to try on your own include The Saw, a Modified Leg Front Pull, the Spine Twist, the Side Kick and Back Strength, which are detailed below. Focus on keeping your abs contracted (as much as you can) and your pelvis in a neutral position. Gently take your body through each movement eight to ten times, making sure that your breathing is regular and controlled.
Because Pilates focuses on core strength, it is possible for you to overstress your abdominal muscles, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, when your whole body is already under significant physical stress. A separation of the abdominal muscles (diastasis) can occur later in pregnancy, and you may want to avoid Pilates workouts or modify the exercises to keep the separation from growing larger. To check for diastasis, lie on your back with knees bent and place your fingertips about 1 or 2 inches below your belly button, fingers pointing toward your feet. Lift your head as high as you can . If you feel a ridge protruding from the middle of your belly, that indicates a separation of the abdominal muscles. Always pay attention to how you feel, and discontinue the activity in which your are engaged if you experience any discomfort in your abdominals or back.
New moms might also find the firm yet cushioned support of an exercise ball is one of the few surfaces that they can be comfortable on after giving birth. As you continue to heal, you can use it for exercise and toning. Moreover, gently bouncing up and down on the ball while holding your baby can soothe a sensitive or colicky infant.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|