It is no secret that even the simplest movements can be more than a little challenging during pregnancy. (Funny how those toes seem to get farther and farther away…) As an expert on biomechanics and functional movement patterns, and a mom-to-be who is due in January, Emily Kiberd, a chiropractic physician and the founder of the Urban Wellness Clinic , knows how important it is to be mindful of movement when negotiating a bump or a new baby.
To help keep bodies moving as well as they can, Kiberd prioritizes seven basic daily movements—what she and her team call The Essential 7. “The Essential 7 are movements that we do in our everyday life,” she explains. “They helps us move better in picking up our baby, pushing our stroller and maneuvering around with a weight in new-found places.”
Other benefits of working these fundamental moves include increased abdominal strength and breathing reserves (for those final stages of labor), improved circulation to help sidestep swelling (adios, cankles), sharpened mental focus and the potential for a quicker postpartum recovery. To help you master the magnificent seven, we had Kiberd break them down and suggest a targeted exercise or two for each.
Recommended exercise: Squats (what else?).
Why: “This one is essential!” says Kiberd. “We love pregnant mamas to be regularly training their squats, since a low squat is the ideal position for working through contractions and pushing during labor.” They also improve pelvic floor strength and elasticity to help prevent tearing during the natural labor process and teach abdominal strength relative to hip mobility for an easier labor and faster postnatal recovery. Kiberd and her team prefer front squats done with at least a 12-kilogram kettlebell held at the chest. (Choose an appropriate weight for your level.) “The kettlebell gives great feedback to the muscles that need to engage to stand you back up and to stabilize your weight while you’re down in the squat,” she explains. And once the bump gets big? “No weight on the front is needed,” she says. “The belly is that natural weight.”
Recommended exercise: TRX lunge.
Why: “We love a TRX lunge,” says Kiberd, “which offers extra balance [to help with] the new-found weight distribution that a mother’s body needs to get used to.” To avoid a fall, she recommends passing on reverse lunges or walking lunges unless you do them often.
Recommended exercise: Palloff press or lateral (side) crawls on hands and knees.
Why: A kettlebell swing is normally Kiberd’s go-to here, but if you haven’t been hauling kettlebells before you were pregnant, she doesn’t advise that you start now. The Palloff press (a core stabilizer done on a cable machine) and lateral crawls (see below for directions) offer the same degree of effectiveness. “These two exercises engage the external and internal obliques, which are involved in stabilizing the torso in rotation and help stabilize the shoulders down and back,” she explains.
Want to know what other mama moves you should master? Check out the rest of our Kiberd’s “Essential 7” over at Fitbump.
Written by the Editors of Fitbump.
Photography by Charlotte Jenks Lewis.