As a pregnant and postpartum woman, I have heard firsthand the following recommendations from midwives, nurses, and doctors.
- If you did it before pregnancy, it is safe to continue it throughout pregnancy.
- Don’t lay on your back after your first trimester.
- Don’t let your heartbeat go over 140 bpm during exercise.
- Make sure you do your kegels.
- You can “return to exercise” once cleared at your 6 week appointment.
The list continues… let me be clear, I don’t 100% agree with any of these recommendations.
With all the conflicting information out there it is no wonder the average woman doesn’t know where to start.
I may be a bit biased (15 years in the fitness industry) but strength training is THE BEST THING a mom- to- be can do for herself. Proper strength training before, during and after pregnancy can certainly make pregnancy, as well as life as a new mom a lot easier.
So you want to keep working out while your pregnant? This is great. There are however more considerations as you enter your second, third and fourth trimesters. As your pregnant belly grows, placing undo pressure on your anterior core is basically asking for trouble. In my opinion there is definitely a time and a place for certain strength training exercises, especially ones that target the core. The four exercises included in this post are safe for all four trimesters!
As a new mom you are bombarded with fitness information promising to get rid of your “mummy tummy” everywhere you turn. Coffee shops, parents websites, mom’s groups etc. The fact of the matter is most of this information is SHIT. FUCKING SHIT I tell you.
Ignore that nonsense!
First of all, you just spent the past 9-10 months growing a human inside of your body. Once your baby is born, your body will “look like you just carried a baby for the majority of the past year”. This my friend, is completely NORMAL.
Secondly, there is no such thing as spot reduction. Those isolation exercises for your core that target the “mummy tummy” can actually cause you more problems down the road.
Thirdly, your core is composed of essentially everything aside from your limbs! It’s not simply the “six pack” muscles you see in the mirror. Your glutes, upper back and everything aside from your arms and legs, count as your core!
Just as your body works together as a unit, your core musculature combines forces to doesn’t work in isolation, so why would you train it that way… pregnant or not?
Learning to use your body as a whole unit (especially as it changes during and after pregnancy) is key in developing a strong body for life. With time, patience, as well as proper strength training that is safe and smart for your core (before during and after your pregnancy) your core can make a full recovery!
Without diving into too much more detail, here are my:
4 Favorite Core Exercises That Are Safe For All Four Trimesters:
Glutes are magical! They can help your knees and lower back greatly, especially when you are gaining anywhere from 15-45lbs during pregnancy. I was able to keep back on bench hip thrusts in my workouts, for the entirety of my pregnancy. It was awesome to be able to hip hinge comfortably when I was no longer deadlifting.
When you have a newborn, you are sitting on your ass A LOT, you are also standing in awkward positions a lot. You are feeding, holding, rocking and comforting a small human 24/7.
The last glute bridge version above, is my bodyweight glute bridge after seeing Sally Moores…an amazing physical therapist. My body had changed a lot during and after pregnancy and I had to relearn how to use my core and pelvic floor again!
1/2 Kneeling Halo:
Maintaining core and hip stability is HUGE during and after pregnancy. Low back pain is a common problem as you get further along in your pregnancy because you are carrying more of a load in the front, and when you have a newborn that needs to be held, fed, rocked and comforted 24/7. The half kneeling, and tall kneeling positions are awesome for opening the hips, as well engaging the core. Remember to keep your ribs over your hips as your body changes.
1A Farmer Carries:
Loaded carry variations abound! Every mom is performing these variations day in and day out…why not learn how to do them properly and use your core to boot! From the moment you leave the hospital you will be 1 A Farmer’s carrying that carseat. Going shopping with your baby? Bilateral farmers carries it is! Once your baby is old enough to be carried with one arm- 1 Arm Racked carry in real life! Trust me, it’s worth your while to learn how to perform these variations before the baby comes 🙂
Bilateral movements such as the glute bridge variations as well as squats, tend to feel good throughout your entire pregnancy. Squats work your entire lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes) as well as your core. Its a great bang for your buck exercise. I was able to barbell back and front squat well into my second trimester, but my go- to variation by far was the kettlebell goblet squat. Squatting may actually be a position in which you labor in when the day comes! The 1.5 goblet squat is a great way to increase the challenge postpartum without overdoing with the load.
Keep in mind that a woman’s body changes A LOT during and after pregnancy. It is of the utmost importance to develop body awareness with regard to your present body.
For each of my 4 core exercises I provided video examples of how my set up + exercise variation may have changed as a result of where I was in my pregnancy/ postpartum journey.
The glute bridge you perform in your first trimester, will be different from your 3rd trimester, and different than the bridge you perform in your first months postpartum. The same goes for the carry variations, the kneeling core variations, as well as the squats you choose to perform.
The WAY in which you perform exercises as well as the VARIATIONS your pre + postnatal body prefers will change.
And it’s all good 🙂 because being a mom is the BEST THING EVER 🙂