You can be pregnant and still stay in shape with light exercises designed to keep you moving in a way that is safe for you and your soon-to-be bundle of joy.
Here are three top exercise tips that can be done through all three trimesters. They will help you maintain muscle tone and will also help keep you strong during delivery.
Tip 1: Body weight squats
Squats are a key exercise that target the powerhouse muscle in the body - the glutes and also the thighs. This exercise can be done with your own body weight.
Step 1: Stand with your feet pointing straightforward, hip’s width apart.
Step 2: Bend your elbows at 90 degrees and pull back your shoulder blades.
Step 3: Slowly bend down trying to sit your weight back into your heels.
A good tip is to keep your toes lifted off the floor throughout the exercise, which allows you to target your butt and the back of your legs.
It is ok to allow the knees to come forward slightly past your ankles but the key point is that you feel the burn in your butt and back of your legs rather than just at the front of your thighs
Step 4: Keep your chest lifted and upright and your shoulder blades retracted throughout.
Step 5: As you reach the bottom phase, squat at a 90 degrees (or slightly less if you’re a beginner and lack flexibility).
Step 6: Now, hold this position and whilst you do, tilt your pelvis (hips) under like your tucking your tailbone under.
Step 7: As you do this, it is important that you draw your navel in to activate your core muscles which help stabilize the pelvis through this movement.
Step 8: Now slowly come up. As you do so, it is vital that you allow your knees to straighten first before you finish off the end range of movement of the squat at the top.
Complete 3 sets of 8-12 reputations slowly.
Tip 2: The pelvic tilt
The pelvic tilt exercise strengthens the lower abdominal muscles and eases pain during labour. This exercise is safe to perform through all three trimesters.
This static exercise requires a mirror to view yourself laterally (from the side).
Step 1: Stand with your feet pointing straight, a hip’s width apart.
Step 2: Lean forward slightly with your upper body - this might seem awkward but be sure to stick through it. This is the starting point to get your core muscles activated.
Step 3: Now place your hand on your pelvis so you can get an idea of where they should sit, and then shift them back behind your shoulders.
Step 4: Then posteriorly tilt your pelvis under but be sure to do this while your hips are still shifted back.
Step 5: Be sure to also draw in your navel in simultaneously as you apply the posterior pelvic tilt.
If you have instituted this move correctly, from a side view you will notice none or very minimal flatness appearing in your lower back. This means the curve in your lower spine has been reduced.
Step 6: Now squeeze your glutes (butt) muscles.
You will feel a burning sensation in the glutes and lower abs. Hold this position for as long as you can keep the correct form throughout.
Step 7: Relax for a few minutes and repeat.
Tip 3: Myofascia release and stretch for the calf muscles
During pregnancy, many women suffer from muscle cramping and pain in the legs in the calf muscles.
Myofascia release helps increase mobility and blood circulation in the muscles and can be followed by a stretch to help the muscles lengthen even more.
Step 1: Place the lacrosse ball directly underneath the highest portion of your calf muscles.
Step 2: Place on leg on the ball to start and allow for the muscle to settle in to the tender spot.
Step 3: Once you feel it has settled in then you can place the second leg on top to apply more force.
Step 4: As the tension releases, slowly move your way down the calf towards the Achilles tendon (above the back of the heel).
Step 5: Hold each release for 1-3 minutes depending on how tender the area is. Don’t forget to breathe deeply into the release, which will help the muscle relax more.
Standing calf stretch
Step 1: Facing a wall, point your toes forward.
Step 2: Step one leg away as if you are doing a lunge.
Step 3: Keep shoulders and hips square to the wall.
Step 4: Place hands and forearms on the wall so your elbows are about shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
Step 5: Once in position, bend the front knee and keep your knee in line with your ankle.
Step 6: Keep the back leg extended and push the back heel down into the ground until you feel a stretch in the calf on the back leg.
Hold for 1-3 minutes and repeat on the other leg.