How much is too much? Which exercises are safe? What will prepare our bodies for labor, and eventually for the surprisingly strenuous job of lugging around an infant?
Considering prenatal exercise myths are rampant, we asked Erica Ziel — founder of Core Athletica, Inc. and Knocked-Up Fitness, and a mom of three — for her best fitness tips and sample exercises for pregnant women. And she’s even offering a lucky Babble reader a set of her new Knocked-Up Fitness DVDs!
Read all of Erica’s tips and enter to win:
TIP: Do Your Kegals 1 of 13"Practice engaging your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles you are strengthening when doing kegels) but also practice gently releasing your pelvic floor. Practice kegels while sitting on an exercise ball or chair. Feel as though you are gently pulling your pelvic floor muscles up through the middle of your body, then gently releasing them down. Continue for several repetitions and practice daily."
Exercise: Pelvic Tilts on Exercise Ball 2 of 13
1. Sit up tall on top of your exercise ball.
2. Exhale as you begin to draw your pelvis underneath you by pulling up on your pelvic floor (think doing a kegel) and hugging your baby.
3. Inhale as you go back to your starting position. Think about growing your spine tall and again engage your pelvic floor muscles while giving your baby a gentle hug.
4. Repeat for 10 -15 more repetitions.
TIP: Buy a Fitbook 3 of 13"Grab yourself a new fitbookâ„¢ mama2b by fitlosophy to help keep you on track with your healthy eating and regular exercise for your entire pregnancy. Plus, it doubles as a pregnancy journal."
TIP: Get Your Heart Pumping 4 of 13"Aim for a minimum of 3 hours of cardio per week; think 30 minutes, 6 times per week. Yes, walking counts! Get your legs moving and feel free to do more."
Photo: Erik Isakson/Blend Images via WebMD
TIP: Use the Talk Test 5 of 13"Can you carry on a conversation with the person next to you? If you can't, then you should probably slow down."
Photo: Flickr/Denis Todorut
TIP: Do Strength Training 6 of 13"It's very important to stay strong during pregnancy, as you'll need strength to keep up with your little one(s). Aim for 2 - 3 times per week of resistance training like Pilates and/or weight training. Focus on keeping your back and shoulders strong! You'll need the strength to help hold and carry your baby, plus no one wants to be a hunchback."
Exercise: Straight Arm Rows with Exercise Band 7 of 13
1. Sit with legs out straight in front, and wrap your long 5-foot exercise band around your feet (twice!). Sit on a pillow as that will probably be more comfortable for your hips.
2. Grab the band out in front of you. Sit tall and pull the band all the way past your hips. Draw your shoulders gently back and down away from your ears. (Adjust where you hold the band to get the right resistance.)
3. Repeat 10 -15 repetitions.
TIP: Lift With Your Butt 8 of 13"Doing lunges is great practice for getting up and down off the floor with your little one! Remember to lift with your butt, not your back."
Exercise: Supported Lunges 9 of 13
1. Stand in a lunge position, one leg forward and one leg back, using an exercise ball or chair for added support.
2. Tuck your hips under so you can activate your bum more easily as you lower down into a lunge, while bending your back knee. (Get as close to the ground as your hips and belly will allow.)
3. Exhale as you push with your bum to return to standing.
4. Repeat 10 -15 times on this leg then switch legs.
TIP: Careful Stretching 10 of 13"Stretching can feel good, but be careful not to overstretch. Your ligaments are more lax due to the hormone relaxin, which you now have during pregnancy."
Exercise: Pigeon Stretch 11 of 13
1. Tuck your left leg under as you reach your right leg back. (Recommend you use a pillow under your left hip if your hips are really tight.)
2. Slowly exhale and inhale as you hold this stretch 30 - 60 seconds.
3. Repeat on the other side.
TIP: Drink! 12 of 13"Drink at least 8 -12 eight-ounce glasses of water daily; more if you are exercising, as dehydration could send you into early labor."
Photo: Flickr/Greg Riegler Photography
TIP: Always listen to your body. 13 of 13"Your body is constantly changing as your pregnancy progresses, so listen to your body and slow down if something doesn't feel right."
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below, telling us why you’d love to win Erica’s Knocked-Up Fitness Prenatal DVDs Combo Pack.. We’ll pick a winner next Tuesday, March 27, and make the announcement right here and on my Early Mama Facebook page.
For more tips and exercise videos, check out Erica at Knocked-Up Fitness.
Read more of Michelle’s writing at Early Mama.