Gym Workouts

15 Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Trimesters

by
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition
15 Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery – 1st, 2nd & 3rd Trimesters September 19, 2017

Pregnancy is a blessing. But delivering a baby can be excruciatingly painful. Labor pain is caused by the contraction of uterus muscles, pressure on cervix, bladder, stretching of the birth canal, and abdominal, back, and groin cramps (1). It resembles menstrual or diarrheal cramps, only a hundred times more intense! And no matter how mentally prepared you are, when you are in labor all you want to do is to get it over with. Which is why most women and doctors prefer C-section instead of a normal delivery. But…

C-section has side effects that last a lifetime. If the anesthesia is not administered correctly you might suffer a loss of bladder control, backache, itchy skin, and even nerve damage (2). Moreover, the C-section scar can also cause depression and take a toll on your self-confidence. So, we recommend that you give normal delivery a try and opt for the C section only as a last resort. Why not, when spending a few minutes every day on workouts can increase your chance of a normal delivery with minimum pain? In this article, I have broken down your exercise routine according to the trimester you are in. But remember, talk to your doctor before doing them. Let’s get started!

Exercises For Normal Delivery

1st Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

1st trimester (week 1 – week 12 or about 3 months) is the most crucial period. And most of you must have heard your doctors and senior family members advising you against any strenuous activity. Of course, you are not allowed to lift weights, do HIIT, or cardio but you can do very low-intensity exercises if your doctor gives you a thumbs up.

Here’s are few exercises that you can do in your 1st trimester. But first, let’s warm up.

Warm Up

Image: Shutterstock

  • Head tilt (right and left) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Head nod (up and down) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Head circles (clockwise and anticlockwise) – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Arm circles (clockwise and anticlockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Shoulder circles (clockwise and anticlockwise) – 1 set of 10 reps
  • Side lunges – 1 set of 5 reps
  • Standing back stretch

Now, you can start performing the following exercises while you are in your 1st trimester. Start these exercises only if and when your doctor says you can.

1. Wall Slide

Starting Position

Lean your head back, with buttocks posed against a wall, shoulders relaxed, feet hip width apart.

Steps To Do
  1. Flex your knees slightly and press your arms against the wall in a way so your forearms are at 90 degrees with the upper arms.
  2. Now, slowly extend your arms overhead by straightening your elbow and pressing the back of your palms and wrists to the wall.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Stop whenever you feel uncomfortable and make sure to keep your body in balance.

2. Clamshell

Starting Position

Lie on a side on the floor with your knees flexed and one arm underneath your head and the other across your body and touching the floor to support your body. Keep your heels on top of another.

Steps To Do
  1. Keeping your heels together, raise your leg as much as possible. This will make it look like a clam shell opening.
  2. Pause for a second and then return to the starting position.
  3. Do this 5 times.
  4. Lie down on the other side and do the same exercise.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not over stretch the leg opening step. Do only till you feel comfortable.

3. Hip Raises/Bridge

Starting Position

Lie down flat on the floor, flex your knees, and keep your feet flat on the ground. Keep your arms extended in your thighs.

Steps To Do
  1. Slowly raise your hips up till your torso forms a straight line with your shoulders.
  2. Pause for a second and slowly lower your body back to the starting position.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure that your body is well supported by your feet and your arms.

You can also go on small lazy walks to keep your body active but no brisk walking. Take utmost care of yourself during the 1st trimester. As you are likely to feel nauseous and sick most of the time, keep your workout routine light. As you move toward the 2nd trimester, you start to feel better, and it is the ideal time to do the pregnancy workouts. Here are the exercises that we recommend.

2nd Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

2nd trimester (Week 13 – week 27) is typically known as the “honeymoon period” because nausea and morning sickness subsides. You will start to feel your baby move and may also experience abdominal cramps as your uterus will start to stretch. It is usually safe to do pregnancy workouts around this time, but do talk to your doctor first before doing the following exercises.

4. Downward Dog

Starting Position

Assume a cat pose, tuck your toes, spread the fingers wide and press your fingertips to the floor.

Steps To Do
  1. Lift your hips up, your heels almost touching the floor, your hands fully stretched, and your head down. You can feel your calves stretch.
  2. Now, flex one of the knees, hold it for a second and then again straighten your leg.
  3. Flex the other knee and hold it for a second and then straighten your leg.
  4. After doing this 5 times, lower your body and get down to a child’s pose.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure to press your fingers against the floor so that your body remains stable.

5. Pelvic tilt Or Angry Cat

Starting Position

Assume a cat pose, palms flat on the floor, toes pointed towards the floor.

Steps To Do
  1. Gently arch your back and lower your head between your shoulders so that your spine looks rounded.
  2. Hold this pose for a second, relax, come back to the starting position, and repeat.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not overstrain your back. Stop it immediately if something doesn’t feel right.

6. Lying Cobbler Pose

Starting Position

Lie down flat on the floor near a wall. Stretch your legs and let your feet touch the wall.

Steps To Do
  1. Make the soles of the feet come together and slowly flex your knees, spread open your legs, and bring your legs down keeping the feet together.
  2. Hold this pose for a second.
  3. Now, put your palms on the side of your knees and gently press down your legs so that you feel your legs opening up and feel the stretch in your inner thighs and hips.
  4. Relax by keeping your hands above your head for 2 seconds.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not press too hard to open up your thighs.

7. Sitting Glute Stretch

Starting Position

Sit on a chair and move forward to the edge of the chair (be careful).

Steps To Do
  1. Straighten both legs out in front of you.
  2. Cross your right leg on top of your left knee and gently pull your right leg towards your chest. Feel the stretch in your glutes.
  3. Hold this pose for 5 seconds.
  4. Now, gently push your right knee down with your right forearm and feel the stretch on your glutes and inner thighs.
  5. Now, cross your left leg above your right and repeat the steps.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Avoid doing this if you feel uncomfortable.

8. Modified Side Plank

Starting Position

Lie on your right side with your knees bent at 90 degrees. Support your body by keeping your right hand on the ground, upper arm at 90 degrees with the forearm. Keep your left hand on your waist.

Steps To Do
  1. Raise your torso up, supporting your body with your knees and forearm. Feel the stretch in your abs, back, and obliques.
  2. Hold this pose for as long as you can and then gently lower your body back to the starting position.
  3. Now, do the same on your left side.
Repetitions

3 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not do this if you feel an unusual pain.

3rd Trimester Pregnancy Exercises For Normal Delivery

9. Opening hips

Starting Position

Stand straight and place your feet shoulder width apart.

Steps To Do

1. Now, bend your knees and lower your body to perform a deep squat.
2. Release all your energy through your pelvis.
3. Take 5 deep breaths while you are squatting.
4. And slowly stand up.

Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Make sure you lower your hips down slowly.

10. Pelvic Stretches

Starting Position

Sit comfortably on the exercise ball with your back straight.

Steps To Do
  1. Place your feet on the ground a bit wider than shoulder width apart.
  2. Now, start stretching by moving your pelvis slightly forward and back.
  3. Repeat 20 times.
Repetitions

3 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not do this exercise alone if you are not confident. Ask your trainer to hold the exercise ball as you sit on it.

11. Yoga

Starting Position

Stand comfortably on a mat, legs shoulder-width apart.

Steps To Do
  1. Extend your hands overhead and then slowly bend over and touch the ground.
  2. Slightly flex your knees and slowly stand up. Relax and do it again.
  3. Now, extend your hands overhead and pull your right hand back. Keep your left hand over your head. Look towards your right to feel the stretch.
  4. Do the same on the left side too.
  5. Now, keep your feet a little wider and flex your right knee, right foot pointing to the right side, left foot to the front. Keep your arms at your shoulder level and look towards your right. Now, lower your body a little and bring both your hands over your head, fully extended.
  6. Keep your left hand on the back of your knees, slightly bend backward, and raise your right hand up above your head and look towards your right hand.
  7. Now again, keep your arms at your shoulder level and move your upper body towards your right. Hold this pose for a second and then drop your right hand and touch your right foot. Your left arm should now be above your head, fully extended.
  8.  Repeat the same on your left side.
  9. Now repeat steps 1 – 4.
  10. Come to a full squat position, hold it for a few seconds and relax.
Repetitions

2 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Always perform this exercise on a yoga mat and avoid squats if your doctor doesn’t allow.

12. Aquatic Pregnancy Exercise

Starting Position

Sit at the edge of the pool comfortably.

Steps To Do
  1. Move your legs so that it resembles your pedaling a bicycle.
  2. Perform shoulder rotations.
  3.  Work your shoulders and chest muscles by assuming chair position and swaying your hands in the water back and forth.
  4. Still in the chair position, move your hands forward and bring them back to your sides.
  5. Now, do a backstroke for back muscles and arms.
  6. Finish your exercise by moving your arms back and forth and your legs in and out.
Repetitions

3 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not do this exercise if you feel uncomfortable.

13. Squat

Starting Position

Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and join your palms together.

Steps To Do
  1. Inhale and lower your hips so that you assume a sitting position.
  2. Hold this position for 1 second and then exhale and come back to the starting position.
  3. Now, squat again but this time, keep your elbows against the inside of your thighs and push them back gently to open up your hips.
  4. While coming up, press the floor down with your finger tips so that you get the support to come back to the starting position.
Repetitions

5 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

If you are uncomfortable holding the squat pose for too long, use a low rise stool to sit on it in a squat pose.

14. Deep Breathing

Starting Position

Sit in a comfortable position, your back straight.

Steps To Do
  1. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly.
  2. Close your eyes and breathe in slowly.
  3. Now, exhale slowly. Repeat this 24-32 times every day.
  4. Another version of deep breathing is to inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth.
Repetitions

2 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Stop immediately if you feel uncomfortable.

15. Upper Back Stretch

Starting Position

Sit comfortably on your exercise mat, back straight.

Steps To Do
  1. Put your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you. Inhale as you do this.
  2. Now, exhale and come back to the starting position.
  3. Do the same on the other side.
Repetitions

10 reps to complete 1 set.

Precaution

Do not over twist your body and stop immediately if it doesn’t feel right.

Now, let me tell you about the benefits of exercising while you are pregnant.

Benefits Of Exercise During Pregnancy

  • It prevents you from gaining weight.
  • It will prepare you for normal delivery.
  • It will help reduce labor pain.
  • It will keep your baby healthy.
  • It will improve circulation and keep your heart rate steady.
  • It will increase flexibility and strength of your body.
  • It will quicken post-delivery recovery.
  • It will also reduce the chances of hypertension and gestational diabetes.

Duration Of Pregnancy Exercises

20-30 minutes of exercise is recommended. Do not overstrain yourself.

Tips

  • Always start with low-intensity exercises.
  • Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine or doing a new exercise.
  • Keep yourself active.
  • Exercise on a flat and level surface to avoid falling.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Wear comfortable and loose clothes.
  • Wear shoes that are recommended for pregnant women.
  • Do not exercise right after having a meal. Wait for at least an hour after a meal to exercise.
  • Do not continue exercising if you feel dizzy.

Caution

  • Exercise with care. If needed, hire a personal trainer or ask a friend or your spouse to be with you when you do these exercises.
  • Avoid exercising in hot and humid conditions.
  • Do not exhaust yourself with pregnancy exercises. Do it just to stretch your muscles and not to lose fat.
  • Avoid heavy weight lifting, scuba diving or high altitudes.
  • Avoid activities or exercises that can increase the chances of abdominal trauma.

Who Should Not Exercise While Pregnant

  • If you suffer from hypertension, asthma, heart disease, diabetes etc.
  • If you notice vaginal bleeding.
  • Feel fatigued quickly.
  • Weak cervix.
  • If you have a history of miscarriage or preterm delivery.
  • Experience regular contraction 30 minutes after exercise.

Pregnancy exercises are extremely helpful and will increase the chances of a normal delivery and reduce labor time and pain. Just keep few important points in your mind and talk to your doctor before doing any pregnancy exercises. It’s best to do these under the supervision of an expert. Take care!

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.
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