Exercises for a fitter pregnancy

Pregnancy workout
Are you pregnant? Try to fit these exercises into your daily routine. They will strengthen your muscles so that you can carry extra weight, make your joints stronger, improve your circulation, ease backache, and generally make you feel well.

Stomach-strengthening exercises

These strengthen your stomach (abdominal) muscles and ease a backache, which can be a problem in pregnancy. As your baby gets bigger you may find that the hollow in your lower back becomes more pronounced, which can lead to a backache.

•  Start in a box position (on all fours), with your knees under your hips, your hands under your shoulders, your fingers facing forward and your stomach muscles lifted so that your back is straight.
• Pull in your stomach muscles and raise your back up towards the ceiling, curling your trunk and allowing your head to relax gently forward. Don’t let your elbows lock.
• Hold for a few seconds then slowly return to the box position.
• Take care not to hollow your back – it should always return to a straight or neutral position.
• Do this slowly and rhythmically 10 times, making your muscles work hard and moving your back carefully. Only move your back as far as you can comfortably.

Pelvic tilt exercises

Stand with your shoulders and bottom against a wall. Keep your knees soft. Pull your belly button towards your spine, so that your back flattens against the wall.  Hold for four seconds and release. Repeat up to 10 times.

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises help to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are placed under great strain in pregnancy and childbirth.

The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscles that stretch like a supportive hammock from the pubic bone (in front) to the base of the backbone. During pregnancy, you may find that you leak urine when you cough or strain. This is known as stress incontinence of urine and it can continue after pregnancy. By performing pelvic floor exercises, you strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and this helps to reduce or avoid this problem after pregnancy. It is important to do them even if you are young and not suffering from stress incontinence now.

• Close up your back passage as if trying to prevent a bowel movement.
• At the same time, draw in your vagina as if you are gripping a tampon, and your urethra as if to stop the flow of urine.
• First, do this exercise quickly – tightening and releasing the muscles straight away.
• Then do it slowly, holding the contractions for as long as you can before you relax. Try to count to 10.
• Try to do three sets of eight squeezes every day. To help you remember, you could do them once at each meal.

As well as these exercises, you will also need to practice tightening up the pelvic floor before and during coughing and sneezing.

Ask your midwife or doctor about these exercises.  Your local maternity unit should run classes where a specialist physiotherapist attends.  They can instruct you in groups or individually. Feel free to ask them for advice and help.

Foot exercises

Foot exercises can be done sitting or standing. They improve blood circulation, reduce swelling in the ankles, and prevent cramps in the calf muscles.
• Bend and stretch your foot vigorously up and down 30 times.
• Rotate your foot eight times one way and eight times the other way.
• Repeat with the other foot.

To protect your back

• Sit up straight with your bottom against the back of your chair. Tuck a small cushion behind your waist if you wish.
• When you pick something up, bend your knees, not your back.

• Try to stand tall
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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