First things first, there are many scary and intimidating myths out there about fitness and exercise when you are pregnant. We recently read an article by Rebecca Scritchfield, a graduate of the Johns Hopkins University who is a registered dietitian and fitness expert in the DC area. In her article, she discusses some of the main misconceptions about fitness during pregnancy and reassures us that the benefits of a healthy lifestyle are even more during your pregnancy. With that in mind, we broke out our workout gear to give you a simple at-home exercise routine to improve the health of you and your little one.
Before you begin, it’s extremely important that you ask your doctor what exercises you are cleared to do while pregnant. If you get the green light, you want to make sure that you are wearing comfortable active wear such as maternity leggings, maternity yoga pants and a comfortable maternity top. Also, always always always make sure to have a water bottle handy so you can stay hydrated!
Yoga can not only improve balance, flexibility, range of motion, and strength, but it can also reduce stress levels and manage pain. By doing specific poses such as the ones below, you stretch and strengthen areas to ease the delivery of your baby.
Left : Warrior II Pose
- Make sure to keep your stance 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, palms down.
- Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel.
- Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle so that your shin is perpendicular to the floor.
- Extend your arms outward, opening your shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Keep your back straight and press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn your head to the left and look out over the fingers.
- Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.
- Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles
- Increases stamina
- Stimulates abdominal organs
- Relieves backaches, especially through second trimester of pregnancy
- Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders
- Therapeutic for carpal tunnel syndrome, flat feet, infertility, osteoporosis, and sciatica
Top Right: Lotus Pose
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front.
- Using your hands to make it easier, draw your heel towards your abdomen, and place your right foot on the top of your left thigh.
- Pull your other heel up towards your navel and rest your left foot on the top of your right thigh.
- Hold the pose for several seconds. Breathe deeply and place your hands gently on your knees, with your palms towards the ceiling.
- Calms the brain
- Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen, and bladder
- Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
- Stretches the ankles and knees
- Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
Bottom Right: Downward-Facing Dog
- Get onto the floor on your hands and knees. Set your knees directly below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders. Spread your palms, index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
- Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis and press it lightly toward the pubis.
- Exhale and stretch your heels onto or down toward the floor. Straighten your knees but be sure not to lock them.
- Firm your arms and press the bases of your index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back, then widen them and draw them toward the tailbone. Keep the head between the upper arms.
- Stay in this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
- Energizes the body
- Stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
- Strengthens the arms and legs
- Improves digestion
- Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
- Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sinusitis
Exercise Ball with Free Weights
- Sit gently on the exercise ball, feet firmly placed on the ground, two feet apart
- Inhale and slowly raise arms toward ceiling with weights in hand, palms in
- Exhale and lower arms out toward your eyes, rotating your palms forward, making your arms a right angle
- Bring weights together so that palms are facing each other in front of your face
- Repeat from Step 2
Even after your baby is born, you can incorporate him or her into your workout by using your child as your free weight. The up and down motion of squats will calm your baby and if you’re lucky, help them fall asleep. If you have a two story house, the stairs are your own personal at-home stair master. Our personal favorite, dancing, will get your energy level up while lowering stress.