Focus on your glutes, upper back extensors, transverse abdominis, and pelvic floor (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
When you’re pregnant, it can be hard to know how to stay active safely.
Which forms of fitness are beneficial, and which moves should be avoided?
It’s important to say, first of all, that every woman is different, and no two pregnancies will be exactly the same – so always speak to your doctor before trying anything new while you’re expecting.
But once you’ve had the sign-off, the best place to start would be these five moves recommended by expert Pilates instructor and founder of The Bump Plan, Hollie Grant.
Hollie says there are some key areas of the body that are essential to train during pregnancy to help maintain good posture, reduce your risk of pregnancy related lower back pain, and ensure you’re strong and functional for when your baby arrives.
These are the glutes, upper back extensors, transverse abdominis, and the pelvic floor.
Here are Hollie’s top five exercises for engaging these areas of the body during pregnancy:
Bend and extend
This exercise keeps the glutes and hamstrings active, whilst challenging your back extensors.
Stand with your feet hip width apart and parallel, knees soft, pelvis neutral and shoulders back and down.
Bring your hands to prayer position at your chest. Inhale and bow forward, hinging from your hips, as far as your hamstrings will allow and maintaining a neutral spine.
You don’t want to go lower than hip height. Exhale to press the feet into the ground and slowly return to the start position.
Repeat for 12-14 reps.
This exercise activates the transverse abdominis muscle and the pelvic floor, both important for stability of the spine.
Start on hands and knees with your spine neutral. Allow your tummy to relax. Imagine a zip running from your back passage, past your front passage, along your bump and ending at your boobs.
Inhale to prepare and as you exhale imagine zipping yourself up. You should be feeling your back passage close, then your front passage close, and then your bump rise up slightly. Inhale to release.
Repeat for 12-14 reps.
Great for the upper back extensors which have a huge demand placed on them when your baby arrives.
Sit on the floor in a comfortable position with your spine neutral, eye line forward and fingers to temples, elbows wide.
Imagine there is a spider on the wall directly in front of you. Inhale and watch the spider climb up the wall towards the ceiling.
As you take your eyes up allow the spine to follow.
You’re aiming to lengthen out your upper back (don’t arch your lower back). Exhale to slowly return to neutral.
Repeat for 8-10 reps.
Is it safe to workout when you’re pregnant?
Exercise is not dangerous for your baby. According to the NHS, there is evidence that active women are less likely to experience problems in later pregnancy and labour.
The more active and fit you are during pregnancy, the easier it will be for you to cope with labour and get back into shape after the birth.
Don’t exhaust yourself.
As a general rule, you should be able to hold a conversation as you exercise when pregnant. If you become breathless as you talk, then you’re probably exercising too strenuously.
If in doubt, consult your maternity team.
Always warm-up before exercising, and cool-down afterwards
Try to keep active on a daily basis – 30 minutes of walking each day can be enough.
Avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather
Drink plenty of water and other fluids
If you go to exercise classes, make sure your teacher is properly qualified and knows that you’re pregnant, as well as how many weeks pregnant you are
Exercises that have a risk of falling, such as horse riding, downhill skiing, ice hockey, gymnastics and cycling, should only be done with caution
For further advice go to the NHS website, or speak with your doctor directly
Sit on the floor in a comfortable position with your spine neutral and hands resting on your knees.
Imagine that there are 2 marbles underneath your pelvis. Inhale and as you exhale imagine picking up one of the marbles with your back passage (anus) and one with your front passage (vagina).
Hold for up to 10 seconds and then release the marbles gently.
Repeat for 10 reps.
Clams are fantastic at maintaining glute function and side-lying is really comfortable during pregnancy.
Lie on your left-hand side, knees bent to around 90 degrees, feet in line with your tailbone. Ensure your hips are stacked and your spine neutral.
Inhale and as you exhale start to lift your right knee towards the ceiling, keeping the heels connected.
Inhale to lower the knee back down with control.
Repeat 12-14 reps before switching sides.
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