I consider myself pretty lucky. When I got pregnant with my first little one, I was in graduate school, studying health sciences. Being surrounded by research, I decided to start researching best practices and methods that would help me have a safe, happy, healthy pregnancy. During this time, I was already teaching several different fitness formats at the university’s recreation center. I was able to keep up with most everything and every class that I was attending and teaching for a long time. However, there came a time when I was directed by a different instructor to do a certain exercise that I realized was not for a pregnant body! It was a pretty intense weighted plank,adding a twisted crunch in with the knees with resistance. I did two and then politely stopped and started doing my own thing.
Did this mean I was getting weak? NO!
Did this mean I couldn’t strengthen my core anymore? NO!
Did this mean that I was giving into this growing belly of mine? Kinda…
This just meant that I had to temporarily change the way that I had been doing things. My body was changing, why did I think I shouldn’t change the way I move too?
Guess what! When you are pregnant…there is a baby in your belly! Guess what else! That baby starts growing and moving things around.There is a common, but not normal occurrence that can happen during pregnancy. Diastasis recti. There is a lot that I have to say about diastasis, so I will save some for later. Diastasis recti is the separation of the abdominus rectus muscles at the linea alba…basically, your abs can split in half. Now, I’m not trying to freak you out, and I know that there are a lot of mamas who know about this now (thank heavens), but it is still something that needs to be talked about more and more. There is a lot that we can do during pregnancy to protect our musculature and not have as many problems postpartum.
Core strength is always going to be a vital part of your life. Your core helps you move in so many different ways. It aids in movement,breathing, digestion, you name it! So, why aren’t we talking more about the functionality of the core instead of just getting that six pack back? I don’t know about you, but if I am not able to grab something behind me or reach down to tie my shoes, then I have a real problem.
Pregnancy is a great time to assess your body and come to understand the changes that are happening. We can work to strengthen the core while also protecting the core. This should, honestly, always be our aim. Here are a few of my favorite prenatal core exercises that help you connect to your body as well as improve your strength.
Seated Knee Lifts
Sitting at the edge of a chair, bench, or exercise ball….extend one leg out to the front, then slowly flex your knee and bring your knee up toward your chest, then back down.
Starting on all fours, stack shoulders over knees and hips directly over knees, keeping glance down at the floor. On an inhale, slowly extend right arm out in front, and left leg out behind you, trying to get both out parallel to the floor. On an exhale, bring your arm and leg in toward each other, then back out…switch sides and always move with your own breath!
Starting on your knees, place elbows on the ball. Keep integrity in your core as you slowly roll out to where you feel enough engagement, then roll back. Always pay attention to the stress that you put on your core. If you notice any doming of the abdominals, back off.