You’re pregnant! YAY!!!! Congratulations.
Now as your body changes and your belly grows, take care of yourself.
Exercise – not so much to stay skinny, but to be healthy and make labor that much easier. In addition, ab exercises are crucial. Not to keep a flat belly, but to provide a stable core for the rest of your body.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
During pregnancy, maintaining a strong centre is critical.
The more work that your abs do, the less that your back does.
For example, imagine carrying groceries – when carrying something heavy with our arms, we often jut one hip out to bear the weight, thus straining the IT band and other smaller muscles.
During pregnancy, as the belly grows, you will want to compensate with your hips, jutting them out to bear the weight of your belly – thus compromising your lower back. Don’t do it!! Think of the following simple exercise every time you’re standing or sitting and your lower back begins to ache:
Sit up in your chair. Sit in a chair with a back (the couch or an office chair is perfect). Relax into it, and allow your back to rest against the back of the chair, with your feet flat on the floor. In this position your lower abdominals are totally relaxed.
With your feet grounded, slowly sit up in your chair – as best you can, keep your legs relaxed, and allow the lower abs to pull your upper body off of the back of the chair. Finish with your shoulders in line with your hips, sitting on your sit bones.
Use a mirror to check your shoulders/hips if needed, and relax your shoulders as much as you can. Release any upper body tension. In this position, your abs are engaged and working to hold you up.
Now, do the same thing while standing. Sit up in your imaginary chair. Use your abs to pull your shoulders in line with your hips. Relax those shoulders down, and release any tension in the upper and lower body.
This can feel awkward, as if you’re sticking your bum or your chest out. However, with your shoulders and hips in alignment you’re allowing your structure (bones, tendons & ligaments) to do the work of holding you up, rather than the smaller muscles of your back. Any time your back aches, adjust. Get those shoulders in line.
Other core exercises for pregnancy:
Side lying crunches: Lie on your right side with your legs on top of each other and your knees bent. Place your left hand on the side of your head. Crunch up with your side as high as you can, focusing on the movement to work the obliques as much as possible.
After doing 10-15 repetitions on the left side, switch and repeat on the right side.
Things to avoid: Be sure that you are lying completely on your side, with your knees bent. Do not allow yourself to roll too far forward or too far onto your back. Doing this will involve a wide variety of other muscles which will take the contraction off of the oblique muscles.
Do not pull on the back of your head with your hand. This will also take the contraction away from the oblique muscles. Keep your arm, hand, and head relaxed as you contract up to the top position.
Side Plank: Lie on your right side, in a straight line from head to feet, resting on your forearm. Your elbow should be directly under your shoulder. With your abdominals engaged, lift your hips off the floor, maintaining the line. Keep your hips square and your neck in line with your spine.
Hold 20 to 40 seconds and lower.
Repeat two to three times, alternating sides. If this is too challenging, start with bent knees, and if you’d like more challenge use your hand instead of your forearm.
The Bridge: Sit on the floor with your legs extended, and toes pointing toward the sky. Place your hands on the floor next to your hips, with you fingers pointing in the direction of your feet. Drop your chin to your chest, then raise your hips, and body up to a bridge position. See video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iw_OvfC5nXo&list=PLF22CB93481925DEE) for visual inspiration.
In the beginning stages of your pregnancy, work up to 10. In the latter stages, do as many as you can with good form.
Core engagement during pregnancy is critical to maintain a strong centre for balance and back health.
Take care of your body, so you can take care of your baby.
To a happy, healthy pregnancy!!