I help women create and maintain safe exercise programs before, during, and after pregnancy. Oftentimes the ‘before pregnancy’ gets lost in the discussion, and I want to address this super important part of training head-on.
What would you want to start training before getting pregnant?
When you get pregnant your uterus will grow each month, until the 3rd trimester when it is the size of a watermelon and extends from your pubic area to the bottom of your rib cage. The weight of your uterus along with your growing baby will rest solely against your pelvic floor muscles that act as a hammock supporting the weight of your bladder, bowel, and uterus. That’s a lot of weight! Over the course of your pregnancy, these muscles can become overstretched and weak, and this will unfortunately result in involuntary leakage of urine (especially when you sneeze or cough).
Strengthening your pelvic muscles prior to getting pregnant will give them the best endurance and stability while your growing belly puts more and more pressure on them. It will give you much more comfort throughout your pregnancy since you won’t have to worry about urine leakage, or about feeling less sensitivity during intercourse due to weak musculature down there.
We’re not just talking about abdominals, but strengthening your back is just as important. As your belly starts to grow during pregnancy, your spine curvature takes on a more extreme s-shape, and this can lead to a lot of strain in the lower back. The weaker your abdominals are, the more that outward pressure will take it’s toll, including the chance of diastasis recti, which is the separation of your rectus abdominis. The stronger your abdominals are before pregnancy, the better they will keep your belly and baby supported as they start to grow. Additionally, the stronger your back is the better you will be able to withstand the changing curvature of your spine, and maintain a pain-free pregnancy.
3.Hips & Legs
Your hips are incredibly important to train prior to pregnancy. We’re talking about getting those glutes nice and strong, as well as your hamstrings and quads. They are going to be supporting 25-35 pounds of extra weight, so that is something to think about when you are training prior to getting pregnant. Squats, lunges, and glute bridges are going to go a long way toward increasing the endurance of your legs, which will allow you to continue doing activities you love throughout the entire 9 months.
Getting your heart and lungs in great shape before pregnancy will help the amount of fatigue you feel in the long haul. Your body systems will be working extra hard during pregnancy, and as you get into your third trimester, the growing baby will even start to compress your lungs, which makes it feel like you can’t get a full breath of air. Being super cardio-fit prior to this will enable you to handle all the changes, while reducing the risk of diabetes, excess weight gain, and high-blood pressure.
Your changing body shape, along with weight gain, inevitably leads to tight muscles. Starting a smart flexibility program before getting pregnant will keep your muscles loose and comfortable. You want to be careful not to overstretch when you’re pregnant, but starting a good stretching regimen before pregnancy will allow you to get to know your bodies strengths and limitations.