There are a lot of reasons to exercise while you’re pregnant. Although strenuous, high-impact workouts are discouraged for expecting mothers, doctors do recommend that pregnant women exercise for at least a half hour on most days. Exercise lowers the chance that pregnant women will develop conditions like gestational diabetes and it allows women to stay fit during a time that can be very physically demanding.
The key to exercising during pregnancy is making sure that you’re not doing anything that could cause harm to you or your baby. This includes lifting heavy weights and doing exercises that require you to lie on your back or on your stomach.
Here are three exercises that you can do safely during your pregnancy:
(1) Torso stretch: Sit down on your mat. With your feet flat on the floor, bend your knees and bring them up towards your chest to a comfortable distance (don’t squash that belly or squish those lungs!). Put your left hand on your left knee and use your other hand to hold your right ankle. Lean knees to the left and bend your head down towards your legs. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds (or as long as feels comfortable), breathing slowly and sinking more into the stretch with each breath. Switch the way your legs are leaning and the position of your hands to continue this stretch on the other side. This will stretch out your back, making it an exercise that feels amazing when you’re carrying a heavy load up front.
(2) Teddy bear rainbow: This is a good use for all those stuffed animals you’ve been receiving at your baby showers. Grab a stuffed friend and stand holding him with both hands in front of your chest. (Use a couch pillow or water bottle if no stuffed friends are available.) Extend your arms to the left and then raise them up over your body and to your right side, as though you were using the stuffed animal to draw a rainbow over your head. Be sure to use slow, continuous movements here to really stretch out those chest muscles. Bring the stuffed animal back to your chest and repeat as many times as feels comfortable. This will strengthen your arms, shoulders, and back, which will come in handy when you’re carrying a baby around the clock.
(3) Couch squats: Sit on the edge of the couch, far enough back that you aren’t in any danger of slipping off the couch and falling (which could be dangerous to your baby). Sit up straight and, without using your arms to support or lift you, use your leg muscles to stand all the way up. Do as many of these standing-up reps as feels comfortable to you. If you start to feel wobbly, be sure to fall backwards into the couch, to avoid injury to you or the baby. For this reason, it’s a better idea to use a couch than a chair, which may not remain steady if you fell back into it with too much force. This exercise is designed to workout those leg and butt muscles. (Just think of it as training for all those squats you’ll be doing to pick up your toddler.)