Staying healthy and> active during pregnancy is so important, as I’ve discussed before here. But there are areas that are really important to a strong and> healthy pregnancy, and> one of these are the muscles in your core. A strong core can help reduce back pain, mean you have an easier time pushing and> can help with postpartum recovery.
Our core is made up of the deep abdominal muscles, the transversus abdominus and> the small muscles in your back. They are your body’s natural corset. Their main function is to provide support for the lumbar spine and> stabilize the joints of the pelvis. A growing baby belly means the muscles at the front of your abdominals stretch and> can lead to your pelvis tipping forward, affecting your ability to stabilise. Your pelvic floor muscles can also be considered part of your core, as they engage when you engage your core. Your pelvic floor includes the muscles around your pelvis and> support organs such as your womb, bladder and> bowels. It is also important to strengthen these in pregnancy as they tend to loosen due to hormonal changes in your body. This loosening is not great for us ladies, and> so strengthening these muscles will help control any accidents. And you’ll be less likely to experience continence problems after birth.
How to strengthen your core in pregnancy
Not all core exercises are safe during pregnancy. In particular after the first trimester you should avoid exercises that require you to lie on your back and> flex the spine forward, i.e. sit ups. As your pregnancy progresses it may also be wise to avoid isometric exercises such as planks. You run the risk of injuring your lower back if you do not complete these type of exercises properly.
Exercises that challenge the stability of your core as a whole are best during pregnancy. The Bird Dog is excellent, as is the Cat Cow move. The Bird Dog is a move done on all fours. You then slowly extend your left leg behind you while reaching your right arm forward. Make sure to keep your hips and> shoulders square and> ensure your lower back doesn’t arch. Hold for five seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and> do the move on the opposite side. Complete 5 to 10 repetitions on each side. Again the cat cow is done on all fours, start by engaging your core and> abdominal muscles. For the cat phase tuck your tail under and> use your abdominal muscles to push your spine upwards towards the ceiling. Making the shape of an angry cat. Hold this position for 10 – 15 seconds. Release and> move into the downward phase. Using the abdominal and> low back muscles, tip your tail toward the ceiling. Increase the arch in your mid and> low back. Allow the abdomen to stretch toward the floor. Pull your shoulder blades down your back. Hold for 10 – 15 seconds.