Congratulations! You’re going to be a mommy! Now get moving. Because when you keep up with exercise during your pregnancy, the benefits are huge: You’ll suffer fewer of the preggy symptoms, like heartburn, backache and swollen ankles. Your hormones won’t be so wild, and you’ll feel sexier. You’re more likely to enjoy an easy delivery. And you’ll get your pre-baby body back faster.
And though it may seem counterintuitive, you should pay special attention – in exercise during your pregnancy – to your abs and your core. These are the muscles that – if strong and flexible – will support the growth of your belly to prevent back pain and injury. They also play a major role during labour. And their post-baby recovery is important for the health of other muscles and structures in the body.
We asked the experts to discuss a few of the core workouts that are safe – and beneficial – for exercise during your pregnancy. But first, a little bit about abdominal separation (diastasis recti).
Diastasis recti is the condition in which your abdominal muscles stretch and expand to make room for your growing uterus. The two muscles of your rectus abdominus muscles pull apart from the midline of the body (you can feel a ridge running down the middle of your belly, in fact).
This is a common and necessary shift in the muscles. But it means you have to take care to avoid crunches, sit-ups and any exercises in which your belly hangs towards the ground (e.g. push-ups).
Three core exercises that are pregnancy-safe
1. Pelvic tilts
Start standing with your back against a wall. Inhale and press the small of your back against the wall. Exhale and release your spine. Repeat.
2. Prone knee-lifts
Lie on your left side, your left arm extended above your head and your head resting on your left bicep. Place your right hand on the ground in front of your chest to stabilise your body. Bend your knees together at 90 degree and then bring them slightly forward (so you’re lying in something like a foetal position).
Tighten your core and lift both knees off the ground (or just the top knee, if you can’t manage both). Hold it at the top of the movement before lowering your legs with control.
3. Pilates ball arm and leg lift
Sit on the ball with your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Rest your hands on the tops of your thighs. Inhale and focus on tightening your core. As you exhale, straighten your right leg and lift it up as high as possible (but not higher than hip height).
Simultaneously, lift your arms out to the sides until they’re in line with your shoulders (but make sure you aren’t tensing into your shoulders or neck). Slowly and with control, return to the starting position and then repeat, using the other leg.
If you’re passionate about healthy, fit pregnancies – and you believe you have what it takes to train other mommies, sign up for a Comprehensive Pregnancy Exercise Certification from Trifocus Fitness Academy.