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A Workout To Get You Through Pregnancy And Labour

At a recent Swaddle Salon, a group of moms and moms-to-be joined me to get serious about exercise during pregnancy. Labour is an intense physical workout, and so the nine months leading up to it is a time to work on stamina and muscle tone that will help you during delivery. It also sets the tone for your childbirth recovery. Pregnancy workouts will help you bounce back more quickly, whether your goal is to fit into an old pair of pants or simply get back to your pre-pregnancy exercise regimen.

For those of you who couldn’t make the event, all of the exercises we did can be done at home. Read on to develop your own pregnancy exercise routine based on these examples.


WARM UP

Marching on the spot

~1 minute

Works out your: Heart rate

Important because: It gets you moving and warms up the muscles.

 

Side bends

10 reps on each side

Works out your: Core

Important because: It stretches the muscles from the underarm down to the hip and improves mobility by bending the spine in a safe manner.

 

Warm-up bends

Forward to backward bends

15 reps

Works out your: Back, hamstrings and hips

Important because: It gets the body moving without damaging muscles and improves mobility.

 

Chest and back stretches

Chest and back stretches

2 sets of 20 reps

Works out your: Chest muscles and the muscles between your shoulder blades

Important because: See above.

 


WORKOUT

Calf raises

Calf raises

3 sets of 15 reps

Works out your: Calf muscles, helps in stability and foot strength

Important because: Your calf muscles play a big role in blood circulation, helping to pump your blood from your lower body back up to your heart. Plus, stronger calves means better stability and balance as your belly grows.

 

Squats

Squats (king of exercises)

3 sets of 15 reps

Works out your: Lower body, especially the quadriceps in your legs and glute (butt) muscles

Important because: This is the position you’ll be in during labour. You’ll need strong quads and glutes to get through it. Plus, it will help you in everyday life: Squats are the same movement of sitting to standing and vice versa, the movement you make every time you pick up something off the floor, etc. It also improves ankle mobility, which will help you carry the extra weight more easily.

 

Wide squats

Wide squats

3 sets of 15 reps

Works out your: Groin and inner thigh muscles

Important because: Again, this is the position you’ll be in during labour. These muscles need to be strong.

Squat plus side leg raise

3 sets of 15 reps

Works out your: quadriceps, glutes and hip muscles

Important because: It challenges your balance, which becomes more important as your belly grows, as well as works the muscles you’ll use during labour.

 

Lunges

Lunges

3 sets of 10 reps on each leg

Works out your: glutes, hamstrings, quads and core

Important because: It challenges balance and stretches the hip flexor and quad that you’ve just worked out with all of those squats. It also strengthens ankle mobility.

 

Bridge pose

Bridges

3 sets of 12 reps

Works out your: Hamstrings, glutes and back muscles

Important because: All of these muscles will be pushing during labour. This exercise strengthens them and boosts hip flexibility.

Note: You can do bridges with your feet flat on the floor or on your heels or toes. For pregnant women, it’s also good to do bridges with your knees out wide while keeping the soles of the feet together. This works the inner thigh muscles more.

 

Superman (left arm, right leg)

Superman

3 sets of 12 reps on each side

Works out your: Core and back muscles

Important because: Strengthening your lower back and core muscles will prevent back pain. This exercise also challenges coordination and balance, which will keep your spine from overcompensating as you gain weight.

Note: Make sure your back is flat and not over arching, your belly is pulled in and your pelvis is not rotated to any one side.

 

Bent-knee kickbacks

Bent-knee kickbacks

2 sets of 15 reps on each leg

Works out your: Hip and glute muscles in an isolated manner

Important because: You’ll use these muscles to support the extra weight and also to push during delivery.

Note: Make sure your back is not over arching.

 

Straight leg kickbacks

2 sets of 15 reps on each leg

Works out your: Glute muscles in an isolated manner

Important because: Again, you’ll use these muscles to support the extra weight and also to push during delivery.

 

Downward dog pose

Down Dog Kickbacks

2 sets of 12 reps on each leg

Works your: Core and glute muscles

Important because: These muscles support your belly and are used during delivery. The position also challenges and improves your balance.

 

Single leg raise (knee straight)

Works your: Core and glute muscles in a different way

Important because: See above

2 sets of 12 reps on each leg

 

Leg raises (lying on your back)

Works your: Lower abdomen and core

Important because: First you’ll be carrying extra weight with these muscles for nine months, then you’ll be pushing with them. Plus, the more fit these muscles are, the easier they stretch — and return to their normal state.

Note: Keep your hands under your lower back for support.

3 sets of 12 reps

 

Cat to cow (aka cat to camel) back stretch

Works your: Back muscles

Important because: This one stretches your back muscles, will help keep them from overcompensating for your new weight, and prevent back pain.

2 sets of 10 reps

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