A balance in strength and flexibility in the pelvis will keep the body stable during pregnancy.
We talked to Solange Ross, a physical therapist, mom of three and owner of Complete Core by Solange, which specializes in strengthening your core and pelvic floor during your childbearing years. Want to prep your body for the babymaking process?
Here's what Solange shared about how to do it:
Before you get pregnant is the time to understand the foundation of the body and begin to strengthen the muscles that provide support to the pelvis.
Postural stability is essential in pregnancy to counterbalance the laxity in joints and ligaments that occurs from the increase in pregnancy hormones.
There is also increased demand on a woman's body due to weight gain, increased curves of the spine and postural changes as the center of gravity moves forward. A balance in strength and flexibility in the pelvis will keep the body stable during pregnancy.
It is important to include exercises that stabilize the pelvis into your exercise program. This begins with the deep core muscles that are involved with breathing. When it comes to pregnancy the core is the relationship between the diaphragm, Transverse Abdominus (deepest layer of the abdominal muscles that corsets around the waist), pelvic floor, and Multifidus. This system of muscles gives support to our internal organs, pelvic contents, and growing baby.
Practicing diaphragmatic breathing and learning how to coordinate the pelvic floor and Transverse Abdominus contraction and relaxation with the breath cycle is important for good pelvic floor function during pregnancy.
There are also key muscle groups that attach to the pelvis that provide stability and work together with the breathing system.
Try these 3 exercises to give you a sense of connecting to your deep core and pelvic stabilizers. Add 2-3 sets of 12 repetitions of each exercise into your gym program.
1. Table Top with Yoga Block
Lie on your back with legs in table top position. There should be space on the sides underneath the lumbar curve but not all the way underneath in the center. Inhale breathe into the rib cage and belly. Exhale using a soft “shh" or “haa" sound as you draw the lower belly inward and slightly upward. Squeeze the yoga block to help you connect to the pelvic floor and lower abdominal area.
2. Single Leg Bridge
Lie on your back with one knee bent, the opposite leg lifted. Inhale to prepare, exhale draw the lower abdominals inward, squeeze the back of the thigh and glute, and lift hips off the mat. Place your hands at the bony parts in the front of the pelvis and check that they stays level as you lift. Press evenly through your foot and make sure you are not over-arching the back.
Getting into a good stretching routine and integrating stretches throughout the day is a great habit to get into for pregnancy.
3. Side Leg Raise
Lie on your side with the bottom leg bent, top leg straight and aligned with your torso. Inhale to prepare, exhale draw the lower abdominals inward and lift the top leg up. Hold the leg at the top of the movement and lower with control. Make sure you are not collapsing into your waist or moving the leg forward as you lift. You should feel this exercise on the side of your hip, not in your waist or lower back.
Strengthening the pelvic stabilizers and postural system will help to create a stable base to support a healthy pregnancy. These muscles are typically underutilized without a targeted exercise program. Focusing on these areas will improve posture and body mechanics during daily activities. It will also help postnatally in recovery after birth.
Photos: Luba Grosman Photography.