*Lindsay’s Note: One thing that has been different during my second pregnancy is I have been working out with an awesome prenatal fitness trainer. Her name is Danielle Spangler and she specializes in prenatal and postnatal fitness. I asked Danielle if she would be willing to share some of her top prenatal exercises to Fit & Awesome readers and she said yes! Here they are. If you are pregnant please consult your doctor before doing any physical activity. Enjoy.
Top 4 Prenatal Exercises for Stronger CORE and Pelvic Floor
1) The Bridge
This exercise can be done both during pregnancy and after. During the third trimester it is recommended to use caution when lying on the back for prolonged periods of time to reduce blood flow to the extremities because of the pressure of the growing uterus. The bridge can be modified for third trimester women on a stability ball with hips suspended in the air.
When performing the bridge the women must lie on her back and lift her lower back and rear end off the floor. I recommend using a pillow to squeeze simultaneously between the knees as she is going into the full bridge, pushing the hips as high as they can go. Hold the position for a count of 3 and lower slowly. By adding the pillow squeeze another element is added into the exercise that forces the woman to engage the muscles surrounding her pelvic floor sub-consciously. Start with 15 repetitions and complete 2 sets total.
2) The Pelvic Tilt
This exercise is great during pregnancy. If you are into your third trimester and there is too much pressure with the weight of your belly you can modify this exercise on all fours.
To perform this exercise you must lie down on the back and lift the lower back gently off the floor, rear end and shoulders stay firmly on the floor. Next push the lower back into the floor closing the space between the back and the floor. Hold for a 3 count. To add in more pelvic floor work, kegel contract (sensation of holding urination) while compressing back into floor. Once again modification is available for 3rd trimester pregnant woman. The pelvic tilt can be replaced by a wall sit/pelvic tilt. To perform this exercise woman sits 90 degree angle with knees and back against wall. First, round lower back off wall without moving hips or upper back, then press small of back into wall holding for 3 seconds. Adding a pillow is another way to incorporate pelvic floor.
3) Wall Sits
This exercise helps strengthen the thighs and align the hips. It is great throughout all trimesters. Leaning against a stable wall with feet in front, slide down the wall with lower back until knees are directly over heels in 90% angle. Push lower back, shoulders and head into the wall and keep feet hip width apart, toes and knees facing forward. Hold this position starting at 20 seconds and work up to 1 minute. This exercise helps strengthen the thighs and align the hips. Use a pillow between the knees to increase strength in adductor muscles and pelvic floor. Start holding the wall sit for 15 seconds and work up to 45 seconds gradually.
4) Elbow Curls
A woman’s upper body posture suffers greatly during pregnancy with growing breasts and belly. After delivery a woman continues to round her shoulders while nursing and holding baby. This exercise opens up chest and shoulders and stretches the upper back, reducing rounded shoulder posture and the shortening and tightening of upper back and chest muscles. Standing against the wall participant places fists to temples with thumbs pointed down. Elbows are pressed against wall in ready position heels are also against the wall, lower back is naturally lifted away from the wall. Bring elbows as close together without moving the position of the fists, then return to beginning position. Breathe out as elbows come close and in on the return. Repeat slowly 15 times.