You’re pregnant! Congratulations. You may be riddled with extreme fatigue and nausea, you may be energized to continue to workout, or you may be just starting to exercise to stay healthy during your pregnancy. No matter your starting point, movement is healing. Those days that you think you just cannot move a finger are the days I want to motivate you the most. That’s because every time you make the choice to move, I can promise you that you will feel better. When we become pregnant we are worried about keeping our baby safe as well as ourselves. That’s where I come in to give you pregnancy-approved exercises to meet you exactly where you are, at every stage in your pregnancy. For your first trimester, we’re going to start by introducing and incorporating abdominal toning and pelvic floor exercises, also known as kegels, to strengthen the muscles you will need throughout your pregnancy.
The Routine: Abdominal Toning
Start in either a seated position on the floor or a chair, kneeling, or in a tabletop position.
- Exhale and engage your transverse abdominal muscles, which act like a corset and wrap from your spine to the midline of the body. Inhale to expand the belly and release the core. Repeat ten times.
- Exhale and engage the transverse abdominal muscles and hold for ten seconds. Repeat 12 times. As you do this, do not engage your pelvic floor muscles. This is a practice that will help you prepare you to push your baby out.
The Routine: Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Exhale and engage your pelvic floor. Then, inhale and release. Repeat five to ten times. Be sure to engage your vaginal and anal muscles when you do this. There are three layers to the pelvic floor so be sure to engage all three. To help, visualize a jellyfish swimming to the top of the water or imagine you are running down the hall and trying to hold your urine.
- Exhale and engage your pelvic floor. Hold for ten seconds. Inhale and relax. Do not engage your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat again for ten times.
Exhale and engage your pelvic floor. Then, inhale and release. Start slowly and then gradually pick up the pace. Try to repeat 40 to 100 times. Here, both the engagement and the release are equally as important. Visualize that you are picking up blueberries and dropping them with your vagina.
Exhale a little and engage the first layer of your pelvic floor. Exhale a little more and engage the second layer of your pelvic floor. Exhale and engage your pelvic floor fully. Exhale and engage the first layer of your pelvic floor, then the second, then third. Hold for a breath. On the inhale, release the third layer of your pelvic floor, then the second, then the first little by little. Repeat five times.
You can also continue your normal workout routine throughout your first trimester. If this is a secondary pregnancy or beyond and you are aware that you suffered from diastasis recti, avoid forward flexion during your workouts and replace them with abdominal toning and kegel exercises instead. I also recommend incorporating prenatal yoga to connect with your breath and your baby. Many days you will not feel like moving, but try your best to at least take a little walk, do a quick yoga session, your ab toning, or pelvic floor exercises. Also, towards the end of your first trimester, limit forward flexion and twisting to keep your baby safe.
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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.