Whether you’re planning to become a mom in the near future, are currently pregnant, are a soon-to-be-mom who plans to adopt, or are a new or seasoned mama, making sure your body is always supporting this miraculous role of parenting a new life and finding the Strength In Motherhood® is essential. Being a mom means that you have to be strong mentally, emotionally and physically.
7 Basic Exercises for All Stages of Motherhood: Before, During, and After Pregnancy and Childbirth
Kate J. Grace PT, OPA-C
Let's Get Physical
- When you’re pregnant, you’re carrying additional weight that is mostly front-loaded, so you’re constantly adjusting to staying centered as much as possible when gravity is hitting you in the back. Everything is growing in front of you – your boobs, your belly. Many women are weaker in their upper and lower back. So, you can minimize the potential of back pain by engaging in strength exercises for your back.
- After you’ve given birth, holding or carrying 6-10 pounds is not as much of a challenge. But growth happens, right? You find yourself bending forward more. And your child is going to continue to grow – that’s a given – and you will need to continue to be able to hold or carry them until their adorable wobbly legs can start walking on their own. And even after that, it’s just childhood instinct to want to be close to you and be held as long as they want to and as long as you are able. So, your back extensors have to be really strong to offset that prolonged forward position.
Whatever stage of motherhood you are in, start now - condition and train your body so you can maximize your experience, be at peak performance, and never have to worry about lower back or other pain as a consequence of being a mom. Many FIT4MOM programs can aid you through your pregnancy, newly postpartum, into the toddler years, and beyond; find them here.
Work It, Mama
As a physical therapist, women approach me all the time about preparing to be a mom and how to support themselves and their baby. So, I’m going to guide you through some simple and easy exercises that anyone can do, anywhere...
Note: Before we get started, be sure you have a journal handy, so you can track exactly what you’ve done. Write down the date, which exercises you’ve done, and jot down any notes. This could include what you felt while doing a particular exercise, how you felt after, and capture how it is helping you long-term. Music may also help you get motivated and increase the intensity of your movements. And don’t hesitate to reward yourself for being consistent and making progress!
7 Basic Exercises for Mama-to-Be & Mom
Whether you're planning your future pregnancy and motherhood, are pregnant, or are already a mama, this series of 7 base exercises helps build a foundation of Strength in Motherhood®:
- 30 to 60 minutes of cardio a day. But here’s how you want to do it - After 3 minutes, interject a speed walk or a little jog, for 1 minute. Research has shown that if you include some speed work into your normal cardio exercise, it will increase your muscle strength, increase your cardiovascular activity and burn more fat.
- Pelvic Rocks - Lay on your back and flatten your back against the floor by tightening your lower abdominal muscles. Then arch your back forward, creating a space, as you move your pelvis back and forth as much as possible.
- Squeeze Lift - Lay on your back; squeeze your glutes and your abs together, and lift your hips toward the ceiling and then bring it down. If this is easy initially, kick it up a notch and do it with one leg.
- Hand Leg Opposite Lifts - Get on your hands and knees. Flatten your back, and at the same time, lift one arm and the opposite leg and hold that for five seconds. Switch sides.
- Chair Triceps - Sit in a chair. Slide your bum just off the chair. Put your hands on the back of the chair, and do some dips, keeping your chest up and your shoulders back. You’re going to need a lot of arm strength to carry your baby around as he or she grows. This will help!
- Squats - These will work your legs, but they will also work your abs as much as your legs. Make sure that you’re squatting with your head and chest up, sitting back and check your form in a mirror. If experienced, feel free to add weight to up the intensity. Weighted options:
- Use your body weight.
- Hold on to a dumbbell.
- Hold on to a medicine (weighted) ball.
- Prone Superwoman (do not attempt after first trimester) - Lay on the floor on your stomach. Position your arms out in front of you. With legs straight behind you, lift your arms and legs up simultaneously. Hold for five seconds and then lower your arms and legs down.
Make it a Routine
These exercises will prepare your body for increasing your workout as well as isolate the specific muscles you’re going to need during pregnancy and after your baby is born. Additionally, these pre-pregnancy exercises will shift your mindset so you make it a ritual and routine and continue doing them after your baby is born.