TIPS FOR A STRONG PREGNANCY

Wouldn’t it be lovely to feel strong, energised and vibrant throughout our entire pregnancy. Unfortunately, more often than not, we feel exhausted, drained and heavy. There are so many reasons why we skip exercise when we are pregnant. Lack of motivation, lack of energy and the constant need to nap jueing a few.

But there are so many benefits to staying strong as you move through your pregnancy and into motherhood. Here are just a few!

Having a strong body will help to support you as your body expands (or should I say blossoms!). Strong legs, backs and arms will help to support your posture, alleviate some of the pressure on your pelvic floor and core and will help you to have an active birth and labour (if that is what you are planning).

When we feel strong physically, it helps us to feel strong mentally and emotionally. And if there is one thing I have learnt from becoming a Mum, it is that we need endless reserves of both outer and inner strength.

Pregnancy and postnatal fitness specialist Kimmy Smith from the Fit Mummy Project shares her must-do strength exercises for a strong pregnancy and birth.

For a complete guide to exercising safely during pregnancy, check out this post by Kimmy here!

The Exercises /

TIP / You can combine these exercises into a full body workout by doing 3 rounds of 10 of each exercise at least once a week.

1. The Squat

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It’s a movement that we do all day long, so it pays to be good at it! Two reasons why squats are so important for pregnant Mummas are:

• Having strong legs means that your pelvic floor and core won’t have to work so hard to support you when you are getting up off the couch or floor (hello 3rd trimester!).
• Strong legs and core will help to support you during an active birth (if that is what you are planning) and beyond.

Tips /

A couple of tips to help you make your squat pregnancy-safe.

• Keep your weight in your heels (you should be able to wriggle your toes) and keep your knees tracking over your second toes.
• Press through your heels and gently engage pelvic floor and core to help you to return to standing.
• Tuck that Beyoncé butt in. Gently tuck your tailbone so that you aren’t overextending through your lower spine.
• Take your stance slightly wider than hip distance to create space for your baby.
• Don’t go as low as you normally would. The lower you squat the more pressure you are putting on your pelvic floor, so no need to drop it like it’s hot.


Variations / Wall Squat

If your pelvic floor feels weak during your squats, strengthen your legs with Squat Holds against a wall. Aim for 60 second holds and pass the time by practicing your pelvic floor contractions.

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2. Bent Over Row

Having a poor posture can lead to back pain. But more importantly, your deeper core muscles and pelvic floor can’t function normally when you have a bad posture. Bent over rows help to strengthen your back, and also gently work your deeper core muscles.

Tips /

• Keep a neutral curve in your spine by drawing shoulder blades together (imagine you are holding a pencil between your shoulder blades) and bending your knees to hinge at the hips.
• Avoid rounding your upper back forward.
• Gently engage your belly and pelvic floor by feeling like you are hugging your baby in towards your spine.
• Slow the movement down and really focus on using the muscles between your shoulder blades to lift the weight.

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Variations / Band Pull

If you feel like you can’t maintain a good posture with this exercise, try band pulls instead. Bend your knees into a quarter squat. Stand up tall and squeeze the muscles between your shoulder blades to pull the band towards you.

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3. The Deadlift

Another great exercise to strengthen your back, but with the added bonus of strengthening your glutes and hamstrings. Superficially, it will keep your behind looking perky. More importantly, it will help to support good posture and keep you feeling strong.

Tips /

• Just like bent over row above, keep a neutral curve in your spine by drawing shoulder blades together (imagine you are holding a pencil between your shoulder blades) and slightly bending your knees to hinge at the hips.
• Create a wider stance to make space for baby.
• Only lower as far as you can whilst maintaining neutral spine.
• Simply extend through the hips to return to standing.


Variations / Single leg lifts

This is a movement that some women find hard to get because it involves hinging at the hips instead of bending at the knees. You can try single leg lifts in table top position to strengthen all the same muscles.

 

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4. Shoulder Press

A great exercise for toning your arms and shoulders. During pregnancy, the stronger your arms and legs, the more that they can support you in every day movements. But I have found that this exercise is especially beneficial for those early days of motherhood when you are constantly nursing, feeding and settling your baby. My arms have never been more sore than in those days.

Tips /

• Avoid arching your lower back by gently tucking your tailbone and gently hugging your belly toward your spine.
• Make sure you can breath normally the entire time.
• Only lift your arms to be in line with your ears.
• Keep the weight light and focus on good technique.

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Variations / Kneeling Shoulder

You can do this movement in standing, kneeling or even seated on a swiss ball. The more contact you have with the ground, the more you will be able to control your posture and hopefully protect pelvic floor.

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5. Tricep Dips

Have you ever tried to get out of the bath or off the couch pregnant? If so, you will know why you need strong triceps! When you feel more beached whale than ballerina, you need all the help you can get to lift you off lower ground.

Tips /

• Keep your back straight and as close to the chair or bench as you can.
• Keep your knees bent to protect pelvic floor and core.
• Keep your weight in your arms as much as possible (don’t try to cheat by using your legs)!
• Keep your belly gently hugging in towards your spine to avoid arching through your back.

General Tips /

Every woman is so unique and is so different in terms of what they can and can’t do during pregnancy. We are also so different in what we can do physically from one pregnancy to the next. Please always listen to your body and only do what feels right for you. Please always consult with your health care professional, doctor or midwife before starting a new exercise program or continuing with your current exercise program during pregnancy.

It is generally recommended to avoid any crunching movements, any movements that cause you to hold your breath and any high intensity jumping movements during pregnancy.

For a complete guide to exercising safely during pregnancy, check out this post by Kimmy here!

Caution + Warning Signs!

The above exercises are for normal, low risk pregnancies. If you have a high-risk pregnancy or have any pregnancy complications please consult with your doctor or midwife before doing any of the above exercises. If you experience any of the following symptoms or signs, stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor or midwife.

• Dizziness
• Chest pain
• Heart palpitations
• Headache
• Shortness of breath
• Swelling of the face, hands or feet
• Calf pain
• Difficulty walking
• Muscle weakness
• Vaginal bleeding
• Uterine contractions
• Cramping in the lower abdomen
• Back pain
• Decrease in foetal movement
• Leaking of amniotic fluid