Kegels/Pelvic Floor Exercise
The pelvic floor muscles form a “hammock” in the pelvis. They hold up and in the organs and bare the weight of the baby as the baby continues to grow. Keeping these muscles healthy and strong can help to decrease incontinence during and after pregnancy, along with keep up the endurance of these highly needed muscles during birth and recovery.
Performing pelvic tilts helps bring awareness to the deep abdominal muscles and activates them by drawing the navel back towards the spine versus releasing the muscles or working without muscle recruitment. Activating the deep abdominal muscles will both stabilize the pelvis and release pressure from the spine, and can alleviate back pain. Remember, this exercise should be performed seated after the first trimester.
Quadruped Arms and Legs
These exercises are performed on hands and knees and aim to stabilize both the shoulder and the hips. Adding the extension of arms and legs, one at a time or varying combinations and movements, challenges the stability and helps to build endurance.
This is an excellent exercise during pregnancy. It helps to increase pelvic floor strength and stabilize the back and pelvis by strengthening the gluts. Additionally squats help to prepare you for labor and birth, and strengthen leg muscles giving you more endurance in your birthing position. Do not squat when the baby is not in optimal position or you feel pain when squatting.
Upper Body Work
As the baby grows, a mother’s posture tends to become more forward rounded to compensate for the weight in the front. Using therabands and free weights to strengthen the shoulders and upper body, will help to keep a better posture and open chest. Exercises such as biceps curls, internal and external rotation of the shoulders and deltoid flies are excellent examples to keep the upper body strong. These also help to prepare the mother for the upper body endurance that she will need post pregnancy when both carrying the baby and leaning forward to nurse.
Women often complain of shoulder pain that can extend down into the ribs post pregnancy. This is a result of carrying the baby and breast feeding (and from also carrying the baby to term). Postural exercises that are helpful:
- Chest opening - lying on the floor with arms open the sides- can be done with the spine elevated off the floor to intensify the stretch
- Arm circles - focusing on proper glenohumeral rhythm of the shoulder
- Rotator Cuff - internal and external rotation using a theraband
- Bicep Curls · Anterior and Lateral deltoid raises
- Shoulder press