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Pregnancy is a joyous occasion and privilege signifying motherhood and new life. However, it also subjects the body and mind to various stresses and pressures. With this in mind, the following are some sets of safe exercises to do while pregnant to manage them.
One exercise to do while pregnant is the pelvic curl. Begin by lying on your back with bent knees and feet flat on the ground a hip’s width apart. After a deep breath, breathe out while tucking in your hips so as to make an impression of the spine upon the ground. Then maintain this position while continuing to breathe out and roll through the motion so as to lift your spine out of the impression one vertebra at a time, stopping at the shoulder blades. Then breathe in and then breathe out while folding the body back down, putting one vertebra at a time back on the ground until reaching the starting position on the back of the hips. Do 12-15 repetitions, bringing the legs all the way together for an extra challenge.
The pelvic brace is safe if there are no symptoms involving the pelvic floor. Start by lying on your back with bent knees and feet flat upon the floor at about a hip’s width of distance apart. Then put the lower back and pelvis into a neutral position by resting on the back of the pelvis and making a small space in the lower back, which shouldn’t be impressed on the ground. Get ready by breathing in, then breathe out in order to do a Kegel contraction by closing the openings of the anus, vagina, and urethra firmly yet gently. During this process, you may notice that the lower abdominal muscles are in sync with these actions. Drawn in the lower abdominal muscles slightly, breathe in, relax the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles, breathe out, and repeat the Kegel contraction. Perform 2 sets of 8-15 repetitions, holding for 3-5 seconds for each repetition, one or two times per day.
Kneeling pushups target and strengthen the core and upper body. Start by lying flat on your belly. Then, push yourself up on your knees and hands, keeping the former behind the hips. Next, pull in your abdominal muscles, or pelvic brace. Then lower your chest slowly to the ground while you are breathing in. Next, breathe out while you are pressing yourself back up. At first, do 6-10 repetitions and steadily work your way up to 20-24.
Squats can be done in a gym via a leg press machine or without one. As squats work out the muscles in the lower body, they help protect the back by causing you to use the legs while lifting instead. To do these, start by standing in front of a couch with your back facing it, using it to guide you in keeping a correct form. Lower yourself over 5 seconds as though you’re going to sit down, but raise yourself again over 3 seconds right as the thighs begin to touch the surface. Breathe in while going down and breathe out while going back up, doing 2 sets of 15-20 repetitions.
Diastasis Recti Correction
Another safe exercise is diastasis recti correction. Diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominal muscles that often happens to women during pregnancy, manifesting as a bulge running down the abdominal midline. Start this exercise by lying on your back with a pillow under the shoulders and head, with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Place a crib or twin sheet rolled up till around 3-4 inches in width on the lower back above the pelvis and under the ribs. Cross the sheet once over the abdomen, grabbing so that the sheet forms an X shape as each side is pulled. After breathing in preparatorily, press your back flat on the ground while you raise the shoulders and head off the pillow so that you are essentially hugging the sheet around the abdomen in order to provide abdominal support. Breathe in, go down, and repeat 10-20 times, starting from 10 and working up if your shoulders or neck hurt. Do this exercise twice daily.
Pregnancy is highly stressful yet immensely rewarding. Safe and effective exercises can bring out the best in the process.