I know working out and pregnancy can sometimes seem like a daunting task. You're center of gravity has shifted and you may have to modify more than usual, but that doesn't mean it's completely out of the question!
In fact working out can help alleviate some of the common aches and pains that come with growing a life! And using a pregnancy ball or exercise ball can help strengthen your core and improve hip stability - both important for labor and recovering from delivery - and help with lower back pain!
Check out these 9 Exercise's you can do today!
(As always check with your physician or OB before starting ANY workout program to ensure that it's safe for you and baby!)
1. Wall Squat
Place an exercise ball between your lower back and a solid wall or steady surface. Stand feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and bend your knees to slowly lower yourself into a squatting position, using the ball as support.
Push back up to a standing position and repeat.
2. Ab Crunch
While lying on your back for standard crunches isn’t advised, try this modification instead!
Sit upright on an exercise ball and walk your feet forward so they are just in front of your knees.
Continue taking small steps until your lower back touches the ball. Your feet should remain flat on the ground with knees bent, and your body should be at an incline with hips lower than your shoulders.
Bring your hands behind your head, contract abs in toward your spine, and lift head, arms, and shoulders up and forward.
Make sure the ball is on a non-slip surface, or against the wall, to keep it from slipping out from under you — and stop if you feel any discomfort.
3. Pelvic Floor Exercises
Sit on the ball with a straight spine. Contract your pelvic muscles, as you would to stop the flow of urine. Hold for a few seconds, and then release and repeat.
Make sure to BREATHE throughout! You and baby need that oxygen!
4. Ball March
Sit on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the floor. Exhale and draw your belly button towards your spine as you slowly lift one knee without letting the ball or your hips move.
Slowly place your foot back down and repeat on the other side. Keep alternating sides for 10 repetitions. (Don’t forget to breathe!)
“If this is too hard, you can just lift up your heel and keep your toes on the ground,” says Stephanie Stamas, DPT, a pelvic health specialist and co-founder of Chelsea Method, an online pregnancy and postpartum rehab program.
5. Ball Bridges
“Labor requires a lot of hip and gluteal strength, so training these muscles is important!” Stamas says. (This move may be too challenging or uncomfortable later in pregnancy, she advises.)
Start by sitting on the floor with your upper back against the ball. Push up through both of your feet and lift your hips off the floor towards the ceiling, as high as you can comfortably go without arching your back.
Hold for three seconds and slowly lower back down. Repeat 10 times.
6. Kneeling Ball Roll-Outs
Start in a high kneeling position with your hands on the ball. Keeping your back straight, roll the ball forward until you can feel your core engaging. Hold for three seconds, then roll the ball back in.
“Only go out as far as your abdominal muscles can stabilize without bulging,” Stamas says.
Repeat 10 times, and make sure you continue to breathe throughout the exercise.
7. Back and Upper Body Stretch
“The chest and abdomen often get really tight in pregnancy, so this can be a great stretch!” Stamas says. Kneel on the floor, hinge forward at your hips, and rest your arms on the ball.
Gently rock the ball to one side until a stretch is felt. Hold here while breathing into the opposite side of your rib cage for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
8. Ball Circles
Sit on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart. Move your hips in a circular motion to “draw” small circles on the floor with the ball.
Do 10 repetitions clockwise, then repeat counter-clockwise.
Sit on the ball with your feet firmly planted on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart. Move your hips as if you’re drawing a figure eight on the ball. This move is great for opening up your pelvis.
Need Help Choosing an Exercise Ball!?
“When choosing an exercise ball, make sure you select the appropriate size based on your height,” Stamas says.
5’0″ and under: 45 cm width ball
5’1″ – 5’8″: 55 cm width ball
5’9 – 6’2′: 65 cm width ball
6’3″ and up: 75 cm width ball
Once the exercise ball is inflated, check your body position.
“When you sit on the ball, your hips should be slightly higher than your knees to avoid pressure on your back, to allow lots of space for your tummy, and to give you stability,” Cohen says.
If you’re between sizes, Cohen suggests choosing the smaller size — especially if you plan to use it as a birthing ball too.
“I personally recommend getting the smallest one that can suit your needs,” she says. “During labor itself, it’s relaxing to lean on the ball on all fours, and a big ball might not be comfortable.”
Remember everything in your body is constantly changing during pregnancy. So if you're struggling just know you're not alone and give yourself grace!
I hope these exercises help you feel stronger and relieve some discomfort you may be having!