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Exercises for Pregnancy

Here are some exercises that will help you stay fit during your pregnancy. Before you start an exercise program, consult with your health care provider, who can provide exercise guidelines based on your medical history and level of risk.

 

Stretching Exercises for Pregnancy

Stretching exercise make the muscles limber and warm, which can be especially helpful when you're pregnant. Here are some simple stretches you can perform before or after exercise:

  • Neck rotation: Relax your neck and shoulders. Drop your head forward. Slowly rotate your head to your right shoulder, back to the middle, and over the left shoulder. Complete four, slow rotations in each direction.
  • Shoulder rotation: Bring your shoulders forward and then rotate them up toward your ears and then back down. Do four rotations in each direction.
  • Swim: Place your arms at your sides. Bring your right arm up and extend your body forward and twist to the side, as if swimming the crawl stroke. Follow with left arm. Do the sequence ten times.
  • Thigh shift: Stand with one foot about two feet in front of the other, toes pointed in the same direction. Lean forward, supporting your weight on the forward thigh. Change sides and repeat. Do four on each side.
  • Leg shake: Sit with your legs and feet extended. Move the legs up and down in a gentle shaking motion.
  • Ankle rotation: Sit with your legs extended and keep your toes relaxed. Rotate your feet, making large circles. Use your whole foot and ankle. Rotate four times on the right and four times on the left.

Kegel Exercises During Pregnancy

Kegel exercises help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels. By strengthening these muscles during your pregnancy, you can develop the ability to relax and control the muscles in preparation for labor and birth. Kegel exercises are also highly recommended during the postpartum period to promote the healing of perineal tissues, increase the strength of the pelvic floor muscles, help these muscles return to a healthy state, and increase urinary control.

To do Kegels, imagine you are trying to stop the flow of urine or trying not to pass gas. When you do this, you are contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor and are practicing Kegel exercises. While doing Kegel exercises, try not to move your leg, buttock, or abdominal muscles. In fact, no one should be able to tell that you are doing Kegel exercises. So you can do them anywhere!

We recommend doing five sets of Kegel exercises a day. Each time you contract the muscles of the pelvic floor, hold for a slow count of five and then relax. Repeat this ten times for one set of Kegels.

Tailor Exercises for Pregnancy

Tailor exercises strengthen the pelvic, hip, and thigh muscles and can help relieve low back pain.

  • Tailor sit: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and ankles crossed. Lean slightly forward, and keep your back straight but relaxed. Use this position whenever possible throughout the day.
  • Tailor press: Sit on the floor with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet together. Grasp your ankles and pull your feet gently toward your body. Place your hands under your knees. Inhale. While pressing your knees down against your hands, press your hands up against your knees (counter-pressure). Hold for a count of five.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Mikio A. Nihira, MD on July 06, 2012

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