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Exercises for Pregnant Women


These exercises are highly recommended and should take only ten minutes per day.

Check with a qualified prenatal exercise instructor if you are not sure that you are doing the exercises correctly.


Arm/upper back stretch
(Flying arm exercise) - repeat 5 times

Raise your arms over your head. Keep your elbows straight and the palms of your hands facing one another. Hold for at least 20 seconds.
Lower your arms out to your side. Keep your upper back straight.
Bring the backs of your hands together as far as possible behind your back and stretch.


Abdominal muscles
Before beginning the pelvic tilt and sit-ups exercises, review the following information on separation of the abdominal muscles.

During pregnancy, it is important to check for advanced separation of the abdominal muscles in order to avoid any further separation.

The abdominal muscle (from the navel to the top of the pubic bone), is divided by a seam running up and down, so the muscle is really two halves.
The hormones present during pregnancy cause this seam to soften and stretch as the abdominal muscles accommodate the growing baby. If the seam stretches enough, a separation of the abdominal muscle may occur.
A separation can happen gradually or as a result of sudden exertion if the abdominal area is weak. You may be unaware of the separation as it causes no direct pain. However, you might have increased backache, as the abdominal muscles are needed to control a pelvic tilt and maintain proper posture.


Pelvic tilts
This exercise is very important because it is the building block of good posture. It also strengthens your abdominal and back muscles, decreasing back strain and fatigue. Practice it often.

Lie on your back with your knees bent.
Inhale through your nose and tighten your stomach and buttock muscles.
Flatten the small of your back against the floor and allow your pelvis to tilt upward.
Hold for a count of five as you exhale slowly.
Relax, repeat.
You can also perform the pelvic tilt on your hands and knees or standing up.

CAUTION: DO NOT arch your back, bulge your abdomen or push with your feet to obtain this motion!


Sit-ups There are two variations of sit-ups:


Forward Sit-up
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly breathe in through your nose.
Breathe out through partially pursed lips as you raise your head, hands pointing to your knees or placed behind your head.
Tuck your chin toward your chest and lift your shoulders off the floor (not more than 45 degrees).

Diagonal Sit-up
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slowly breathe in through your nose.
Point your right hand toward your left knee while raising your head and right shoulder. Breathe out slowly through your mouth. Keep your left knee bent slightly and your heel on the floor.


Kegel exercises tone the pubococcygeal (PC) muscle. This is the muscle you use to stop and start the flow of urine. Exercising this muscle helps prevent hemorrhoids, supports your growing baby, assists during and after labor, keeps the muscles of the vagina toned, and may increase sexual pleasure for you and your partner.

Learn to isolate this PC muscle by stopping the flow of urine a few times. Use this technique only to locate the muscle. Do not exercise the muscle this way as it may lead to a urinary tract infection. Another way to locate the muscle is to put your clean finger in the opening of your vagina and tighten. By feeling the muscle tighten around your finger you will know you are doing the exercises correctly.

Squeeze the PC muscle for five seconds; relax for five seconds, then squeeze again. At first do 10, five-second squeezes, three times a day.
Flutter exercises: Squeeze and release, then squeeze and release as quickly as you can.
Work up to doing 100 Kegels each day.

Move to the squatting position, knees over your toes.
Keep your heels on the floor; feel the stretch in the back of your thighs.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Gradually increase the time to 60 to 90 seconds.
Relax your head and arms throughout this exercise.
This is a good exercise to prepare for squatting during the pushing stage of labor.

Calf stretch

Lean against a wall or firm surface.
Reach one leg out behind you, keeping your heel on the floor.
Lean into the wall to increase the stretch of your calf.
Hold for 20 to 30 seconds.
Repeat with each leg.
This is a good exercise to do before going to bed if you are bothered by leg cramps at night.