Exercise during pregnancy has become somewhat of a norm these days. Which is both great and not so great. The awesome part is that exercise provides so many benefits for mamas-to-be and their babies. It helps to increase energy, keeps the body feeling great throughout the transition and physical change of pregnancy, and it’s even been known to help during labor.
So what’s the not so great part?
When I was expecting my daughter a few years back, the best advice I was given was to listen to my body and to keep doing what I was doing. To taper it off as I saw fit. Creating and maintaining core and pelvic floor connection was not discussed in the books I read. It wasn’t included in my certifications, including the pre and postnatal course I took.
Although we’re encouraging mamas-to-be to get out there and get moving, we aren’t equipping them with the very best tools to train properly during pregnancy.
A strong emphasis on the “post baby bounce back” rather than creating a strong body NOW to help a mama feel confident and strong during pregnancy and aid in recovery later, has brought on a whole new host of issues. This mentality has resulted in women trying to keep up with their pre-pregnancy exercise regimen and intensity a bit too much for my liking.
Pressure to shed the “baby weight” fast is a major concern for new moms. But what about recovery including self care? What about healing diastasis? What about preventing injury? What about addressing incontinence or prolapse?
Today, we have powerlifters, cross-fitters, and marathon runners all having babies. Intensity of exercise has vastly increased over the last few years for the majority of the population. So the truth is, that encouraging women to “just keep doing what they’re doing” just isn’t good enough anymore.
Coaches, trainers, we can do so much better for our mamas. It’s not JUST about modifications. It’s about creating programs that are truly made for the pregnant body. One that will train them for the tasks of motherhood and beyond.
So, what should a prenatal exercise program look like?
Before we begin, I'm going to say this right now... You need to leave your ego at the door. Now isn’t the time for insane intensity. It's not about PR's or keeping up with the other chicks in your gym, whether they're pregnant or not. It’s about sustainability. It’s about feeling beautiful, confident, and strong. It’s about training smart.
To start, we need to create a strong foundation. We need to focus on the core and pelvic floor and create the connection that will help you stay strong during pregnancy and also give you an edge on recovery afterwards.
It’s super important to note that no matter how easy or uncomplicated your pregnancy and birth is, every single body requires recovery and restoration. (New mamas, be sure to check out The New Mama's Guide to learn about a program made especially for you.)
Here’s a great place to start and learn more about creating the core and pelvic floor connection through respiration. Be sure to check out the video link too!
Next, we need programs that reflect the movements mothers will perform even hours after birth—Squats, lunges, pushes, pulls, carries. ( Think about squatting to sit on a toilet, lunging to pick up a carseat, carrying the carseat etc.)
We need to absolutely work the core during pregnancy—not by using modified traditional core exercises, but by challenging it in a way that new moms will be challenged.
Here are three of my favorite exercises for my mamas-to-be. Remember, everything starts with your breath. Master that first, and then move into these exercises. And of course, make sure you have been cleared by your doctor before you begin.
1. Goblet Squat
2. Split Lunge
3. One Arm Band Row
Stay strong mamas. You can do this.
Thanks for reading! Interested in knowing more? Curious about LMF? Be sure to check out the shop for all training programs and training opportunities. And be sure to ask about the all NEW Stronger for Two Training Program-- A trimester by trimester training program for all mamas-to-be, including a special birth prep section for the third trimester.