Pre and post-natal certified celebrity trainer and founder of Fit Pregnancy Plan, Andrea Speir shares some amazing techniques for safely exercising during pregnancy. In fact, she filmed her series of exercises while she was pregnant herself. “Working out throughout pregnancy is a fantastic thing to do, not only to keep your body feeling strong, fit and able, but also to move and connect with your growing baby while preparing for labor and postpartum recovery,” Speir says. Since there is an element of fear connected with what you can and cannot do during pregnancy, she’s provided tips on staying safe, as well as exercises that you can feel confident doing throughout your term.
First and foremost, Andrea encourages you to make sure you are approved by your doctor for any fitness regimen and ask if your body and pregnancy have any limitations. “We are all different, and being compassionate with ourselves in this respect is essential,” she says.
Listen to your instincts
She advises that if you don’t feel comfortable with an exercise, listen to your gut and avoid that movement.
Lying on your stomach
Andrea says that lying on your stomach is safe throughout your first trimester, so long as it’s approved by your doctor.
Work your obliques
Working your obliques is a fantastic way to keep fit during pregnancy. “They help you push during labor, so don’t leave them out of your routine if you don’t have to,” Andrea says. “A great option is a gentle side plank, where you keep one knee down in a tripod”.
Work your glutes
“The glutes act like a base of support for your growing belly, so having those strong muscles will help support your lower back big time,” Andrea advises.
Tone your arms
Besides the aesthetic appeal of having Madonna’s arms, there are practical reasons why Andrea advises working on your arms throughout your pregnancy. “You are about to spend the majority of your day carrying around an adorable little bowling ball, and let’s talk about that gear! That car seat, diaper bag, stroller base are heavy and you’re gonna want your arms, back and postural muscles working double duty for you,” Andrea recommends.
Drink your water
Andrea states that you’ll need water now more than ever to support a healthy pregnancy, especially if you’re working out throughout your term.
Take it easy
Don’t be too hard on yourself during this time. It’s important to rest and take breaks. “You have so much more blood in your body now that you will get fatigued more quickly,” Andrea notes. “This is not you being out of shape, this is your body physically reacting to creating a person, so take that much-needed break”.
1. Side Oblique Crunch
1. Stand with one hand on a chair and the other hand on your waist
2. Reach outside leg out to the side while extending same arm up and overhead (lean slightly in toward the chair)
3. With pace, bend elbow and knee in toward each other in a side crunch
4. Extend arm and leg out and away
Andrea recommends this exercise to strengthen the obliques or “corset” muscles. “These muscles wrap around the waist and help to safely support the entire core throughout the course of pregnancy, relieving pressure on the lower back,” she states. She also adds that these muscles come into play when you’re in labor.
2. Clamshell Circles
20x/direction (per leg)
1. Lie on your side with your head resting in your hand and knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
2. Lift top leg up to hip height (keeping it bent)
3. Circle that leg up back and around
4. Repeat for 20 seconds
5. Reverse direction
6. Repeat 20 seconds
7. Change sides
Andrea recommends this move to strengthen the outer hips and glutes, in order to help support the lower back, expanding hips and your pelvic floor. “The circular action increases blood flow and circulation, and when you’re pregnant this is a must, as the baby bump blocks the normal blood flow,” she advises.
3. Kneeling donkey kicks
1. On hands and knees, hook the resistance band around the arch of one foot with hands anchoring the outside ends to the mat
2. Sweep straight leg up high toward the ceiling
3. Bend knee and lower leg back down
Andrea recommends this move to gently stretch out the front of the body while building glute strength to support the baby bump. Andrea’s safety tip: “Only kick back as high as you can with your back stable. If your hips lifts or your back arches, you’ve gone too high”.
4. Dive Bomber Push-ups
1. On hands and knees, lift one leg up and extend behind the body
2. Bend elbows and lower into a modified pushup
3. Press back up
Andrea recommends this safer version of a push-up to strengthen the arms, back and postural muscles without letting the weight of the organs press down on your baby bump.
5. Standing Plie Squats
1. Stand with heels together and toes apart — one hand on the back of a chair and the other on your hip
2. Rise up on toes
3. Bend knees
4. Lower heels
5. Straighten legs
6. Repeat 20x
7. Reverse direction
8. Bend knees
9. Lift heels (with knees still bent)
10. Straighten legs
11. Lower heels
Andrea recommends this movement to strengthen your pelvic floor and actually prepare your body for labor.
6. Cat/cow with resistance band
1. Wrap the long resistance band around shoulders, and come onto hands and knees with hands under shoulders and knees under hips
2. Dive chest down, opening the chest and looking straight ahead
3. Sequentially begin to round the back up to the ceiling, looking down toward the mat below
If you take your time with this movement, it might be one of your favorites. Andrea advises that this movement gets into the muscles of the back helps stretch out an area, the Sacro-Iliac spine, where it’s common to feel a lot of sensitivity and pinching. “This is also a recommended exercise to relieve Round Ligament Pain, which is that tightness you can feel under the wall of your uterus and around your hips,” she says.
The moves that Speir recommends can be done throughout the course of pregnancy to support your growing baby bump, stretch out overly tight muscles, prepare for labor and, as Speir puts it, “set the stage for a strong postnatal recovery”.