Pregnancy comes with a lot of lifestyle changes that you might not have been expecting — you have to eat the right foods for your baby, adjust to a changing body, and prepare your home and life for motherhood. You may also think that these nine months of pregnancy mean you have to give up your exercise routine, too. But it’s actually good for you and your child to exercise during pregnancy, even if you have to modify some of your favorite moves.
Before you start any exercise routine, make sure to always take a few minutes to properly warm-up, and once you’re finished, always cool down and stretch. If at any point in your routine you feel nauseous, dehydrated, or overheated, then stop your current exercise and lower the intensity. Now, it’s time to get up off of the couch and get moving with these seven exercises you can do during your pregnancy.
1. Lateral leg raise
This exercise from Fit Pregnancy is one you can do during any stage of your pregnancy — and you don’t even have to stand up. To start, lie on your right side, supporting your head with your forearm and placing an optional pillow under your hip. Bend your right leg at a 45-degree angle and keep your left leg straight. Lift your left leg up to about hip height and lower the leg. Repeat for as many reps as you’d like, and then switch sides to work the opposite leg. For more stability, you can place your free arm on the ground to help support your body during this move.
This is one of the best exercises to perform during pregnancy because there’s no chance of falling or causing injury to the baby, and there’s no pressure on your joints, explains Parents. When you’re swimming for exercise, aim to find a stroke that feels comfortable and doesn’t put a strain on your neck, shoulders, or back muscles. The breaststroke is good here because you won’t be rotating your torso, and you’ll still be getting a great workout with the constant movement of your arms and legs.
3. Lateral shoulder raise
For an exercise that will sculpt your shoulders, arms, and back, try this simple move outlined by Babble. To start this move, you’ll need three- to five-pound weights, and either a chair or a stability ball. Sitting on the chair or ball, put a weight in each hand and hold your weights to either side of your body with your palms facing upward. Lift your arms to shoulder-height, keeping them extended during the entire exercise, and lower them back down. Make sure you keep your feet flat on the ground with your abdominals engaged to protect your back during this move, and don’t forget to take deep breaths for extra muscle support.
4. Stationary biking
If you love to bike, then you don’t have to give up this exercise for fear of falling off and hurting yourself or your baby. Just go the stationary bike route for a safer alternative. Healthline states stationary bikes are low-impact and will get your heart rate up, making for the perfect cardio exercise. If you love spin class, just be careful you don’t push yourself too hard — always bike at your own pace. And, be sure to adjust the handlebars and bike seat so that you’re not putting excess strain on your back.
5. Pelvic tilts
This exercise comes with the added bonus of strengthening your abs enough to alleviate back pain during labor, says the American Pregnancy Association. To perform this move, start in a position with your hands and knees on the floor with your spine in a neutral position. Then, tilt your hips forward and pull your abdomen in so your back is slightly rounded. Stay here for a few seconds, breathing and pulling your ab muscles in tight, and then relax, breathing out and letting your back return to a neutral position. Repeat these reps to feel the stretch and muscle engagement, and don’t allow your back to sag — remain in a neutral or slightly rounded position at all times.
6. Weighted squats
You can perform squats with or without weights, but to really strengthen and tone your thighs and butt, adding a little extra resistance with dumbbells is a good idea. What To Expect explains this exercise is extra useful for women who plan on delivering their child in a squatting position — you’ll feel stronger and more able to do this after you’ve performed a few squats during your pregnancy.
To begin this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend at the knees. Lower yourself to a comfortable level for you, keeping your back straight and driving your weight into your heels. Hold your squat for 10 to 30 seconds to feel the stretch and the muscles working, then come back to standing. If you’re adding dumbbells to this, you can either hold one in each hand or rest them gently on your shoulders while holding the ends to balance.
Not only is yoga great for keeping your body limber through your pregnancy, but your mind will also thank you for it — yoga has a calming effect over the body that can help to de-stress you. Medical News Today says prenatal yoga is great for helping you maintain your flexibility through your pregnancy while also strengthening your muscles. It also helps to stimulate blood circulation and can help you better manage your blood pressure.
Yoga is excellent because you can completely work to your level — you can move as quickly or as slowly as you’d like. Be sure to avoid positions that challenge your balance or require you to invert, as your balance will change as your baby grows. You don’t want to risk injury to yourself or your child.