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All women without complications are encouraged to participate in regularexercise during pregnancy as part of a healthy lifestyle. Seek advice from your midwife, doctor or physiotherapist prior to starting an exercise program if you have pregnancy related complications or concerns. Women are encouraged to maintain a healthy level of fitness rather than striving for peak fitness. This may include aerobic, strength and stretching exercise.
Key exercises you can perform at home include pelvic floor muscle exercises, tummy exercises and a range of gentle stretches.
Your pelvic floor muscles stretch like a trampoline across the floor of the pelvis, running from the coccyx (tailbone) at the back through to the pubic bone at the front, and sideways to the sitting bones. The pelvic floor muscles play a large part in bladder and bowel control, as well as sexual function. They provide support and stability around your pelvic joints and organs. These muscles are normally firm and thick.
Tighten your pelvic floor muscles by:
Note: Although most exercises suggested here are perfectly safe during pregnancy, we request you get personal assistance from our Maternity Physiotherapy expert to get a more customized and suitable exercise plan for your pregnancy.
There are four different tummy muscles: The rectus abdominus muscles may separate during pregnancy. This can be seen as a bulge or peak when lifting your head and observing your tummy. It is important to avoid sit-up exercises or any other activities where this bulge is visible.
The deep transverse abdominus muscle acts like a corset around your lower spine to assist with good posture, maintain abdominal tone and provide support to protect your back and pelvis. Tighten this muscle by gently drawing your lower tummy towards your spine. Hold this contraction whilst breathing and keeping your upper tummy relaxed. Aim to gradually increase this hold to 10 seconds and repeat 10 times. This can be performed regularly through the day.
This exercise can help keep your tummy muscles strong, minimize tummy separation, help with your posture, reduce low back pain, pelvic joint pain and round ligament pain. Start by standing with knees bent. Gently flatten the curve of your lower back by tilting your pelvis/hips backwards. Aim to hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 10 times. This can be performed regularly through the day. Do this in standing, lying or on a gym ball.
Your tummy and pelvic floor muscles work to brace and protect your pelvis and back as well as support your pelvic organs. Whenever you lift anything, cough, sneeze, push, pull or change position (e.g. roll over in bed, get out of a chair), remember to first tighten your pelvic floor muscles and brace your tummy muscles. It is particularly important to remember this when lifting weights/using resistance machines. This technique should be continued throughout your life to protect your pelvic muscles, pelvic organs and spine from strain.
Pregnancy changes your shape, weight and causes softening of ligaments. This places some joints and muscles under increased stress. These exercises may help relieve the discomfort that may result. These exercises can be performed in addition to aerobic and strength exercises on a daily basis. If you have pre-existing musculoskeletal problems, seek advice from your treating healthcare provider prior to starting stretching exercises.