9 Simple Pregnancy Exercises

Easy moves you can do at home to stay fit during and after pregnancy.

9 Simple Pregnancy Exercises

Being pregnant is an amazing experience, but it comes with a million questions -- almost always about what you can and cannot do while pregnant. No answer is ever black and white, as every woman and every pregnancy is so entirely different. But after 10 years working in the fitness industry and training countless women during and after pregnancy, I have found that while we all have our own unique experiences, many of the aches and discomforts that come along with pregnancy are pretty consistent. Luckily, working out can do wonders: from alleviating back pain to revving up your energy and, post-delivery, a faster return to your pre-baby silhouette.

I recommend investing in a heart rate monitor, especially if you are pregnant. It’s not a must, but it’s a fantastic way to track how your body is responding to the type of exercises you are doing, letting you know if you need to make modifications as your pregnancy progresses. Also remember to consult with your doctor before beginning any fitness routine during your pregnancy. The intensity at which you can work out will depend on pre-pregnancy fitness level.

Here are 9 pregnancy exercises that will keep you fit, healthy and comfortable during and after pregnancy.

Bird Dog:

  • Start on all fours and slowly extend one arm, opposite leg out strong and straight and in line with your body. Hold for 3-5 seconds, return to your starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat x20.

Side Centers:

  • Start on your elbows and knees, with your elbows directly underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Extend your right leg out straight behind you and lift it up toward the ceiling. Slowly, tap your right foot as far over to the right as you can, keeping your leg strong and straight.
  • Lift your right leg back up towards the ceiling, and then tap as far to the left as you can. Alternate sides, x30 each leg.

Side Lying Leg Lifts:

  • Lie on your side with your legs out straight at a 45-degree angle, hips stacked and feet flexed. Keep your head propped up with your bottom hand on and place your other hand in front of your body for support.
  • Lift your top leg up a few inches higher than your hip and then almost all the way back down. Repeat x25 singles, x25 pulses 2-3 times.

Downward Dog/ High Plank Flow:

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your hands a few inches in front of your shoulders. Tuck your toes and bring your body into your DD (the shape of an “A”). Relax and hold this position for 5 seconds and slowly shift your body into a high plank. In your plank, your hands should be directly under your shoulders, your body in a straight line from your head to your toes with your legs active and engaged.
  • If you are in your first trimester, you can hold your plank for up to 30 seconds before shifting back into your downward dog. As your pregnancy advances, you can decrease the amount of time you hold your high plank as you please. Continue this flow x10.

Straight Arm Triceps Kickbacks:

  • Start on your hands and knees and grab your desired weight - anything from 2-5 lbs. (beginners can even start just using a water bottle). Bring your left arm back straight, palm facing in, with the weight rested on the mat.
  • Extend your opposite leg out straight, lifting it up so it is in line with your body. Maintain this position throughout the exercise as you lift your straight arm up slightly above your torso and almost all the way and down. Repeat x20 singles x10 pulses each arm.

Inner Thigh:

  • Lying on your side, lengthen your bottom leg out straight in line with your body and bend your top leg in front of you at hip height at a 90-degree angle. Rest your top knee on the floor or, as your belly grows, it may be more comfortable on a yoga block or foam roller.
  • Lift your bottom leg up as much as you can while maintaining proper form. Return almost all the way back down to the floor. Repeat x25 singles, x25 pulses 2-3 times each leg.

Knee Push-Ups:

  • Kneel on the floor with your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and keep your body in a straight line from your head to your knees.
  • Place your feet on the floor or in the air and slowly bend your elbows out to the side, lowering your torso towards the floor. Exhale and push back up to your starting position x15.

Single Leg Dead Lift:

  • Stand on one leg (slightly bent) and hinge forward as you extend your other leg back straight behind you. Keeping your back straight, reach your opposite hand towards the floor until your body forms the letter T.
  • Come back up to your standing position by raising your torso while simultaneously lowering lifted leg. x15

Assisted Back Lunge Split:

  • Start with your right hand on a chair or using a body bar for support. Take a big step back with your right leg and immediately bend both knees so that your front (left) leg is parallel to the floor and your right knee is bent a few inches away from the floor.
  • Briefly hold and slowly straighten both legs pushing up from your front heel. Bend back into your lunge from this position and repeat x15-20 on each leg.

Brooke Marrone, President & Founder of Brooke Marrone Fitness, launched her highly regarded private training business in 2008. Training everyone from top executives to doctors, mothers to celebrities, Brooke is one of the most sought-after personal trainers in New York City.

My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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