Together with Breathing Exercises to strengthen your Diaphragm, Core and Pelvic Floor; weight training is some of the best exercise you can do while pregnant, as long as you have medical clearance to exercise.
The goal is to strengthen the muscles that will support your growing bump, and also to maintain as much muscle mass as possible, to make your postpartum recovery easier.
In this 3-part article, I will discuss some of the exercises that you will find in out fitness programs, and why we do them.
The first exercise that we will look at, is the Squat. The Squat is a staple in our fitness programs both for during and after Pregnancy.
Why do we Squat?
Ina May Gaskin, the so-called ‘mother of authentic midwifery’ and author of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, is credited with saying:
“Squat 300 times a day, you’re going to give birth quickly.”
No-one can promise you an easy or quick birth, your birth will be what it will be, but you can still prepare yourself as well as possible, not only for the birth, but for the pregnancy and postpartum recovery, and for doing life with a rapidly growing baby.
Benefits of Squatting
- Squats help to strengthen your lower body, specifically your glutes, hamstrings, lower back and quads, and maintain mobility in your hips so that you can achieve the squat positions that will help you cope with contractions during labor.
- Squats will strengthen your glutes, which will help to stabilise the pelvis and reduce the experience of lower back pain. The glutes easily become inactive during pregnancy due to body posture, so squatting can help keep them activated and keep your bum looking good!
- Squats help to maintain balance and coordination as your center of gravity shifts with your expanding belly.
- Squats are a low-impact exercise that will elevate your heart rate and keep your cardiovascular system strong.
- Squats can help increase pelvic floor muscle strength.
- Squats engage your core, helping you strengthen your core without crunches and sit-ups, which you no longer want to be doing during pregnancy.
Types of Squats
There are many different ways to squat, below are some of the Squats you can expect to do in the Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness program:
This is a squat where you use your own body weight and perform a squat. Focus on moving through full range of motion while using your arms out in front for balance. If you are accustomed to squatting, aim for a squat that breaks parallel. If you are not accustomed to squatting, aim to squat at least to parallel.
Box Squats are a great exercise to engage and activate your glutes. The are also very safe because you are supported by the box. You can also use a chair at home if you don’t have a box. You can start this exercise with just your own body weight, and progress to adding weight, either a barbell, or dumbells or even a Kettlebell, once you feel able.
In this squat you hold a kettlebell or dumbbell or a medicine ball in front you and focus on keeping your chest up.
Barbell Back Squat
Here, the barbell rests on your shoulders and upper back, while you perform a squat. Progressively increasing load here can help strengthen your lower body and lower back for the increased load you will carry as your bump grows.
- Keep your feet about hip with apart or slightly wider
- Keep toes turned slightly out
- As you start your squat, sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair, keep your heels on the floor
- Check that your knees remain across your toes, don’t allow your knees the cave in
In Part 2 of this series we will look at the humble deadlift as a great pregnancy and postpartum exercise option.