Simple exercises that prevent weight gain, soothe aches, and strengthen your muscles for a speedy labor. Wahoo!
Everything in this slideshow
Pretty soon, you'll have a new 7-pound weight to lift (aka your baby). In the meantime, try these toners from fitness pro Tracey Mallett, author of Super Fit Mama. They'll strengthen your bod for carrying Baby (and labor!), and are recommended for all pregnant women who get their doc's OK. You'll need a set of 3- to 8-pound dumbbells, a pillow, and a mat. Aim for two sets of 12 reps per exercise (except for the Birthing Squat), three to four days per week. As pregnancy progresses, decrease the weights, take breaks, or do fewer reps. Also, go for 20 to 30 minutes of moderate cardio, like speed walking, a few times a week. What to wear while doing all this?
Standing Biceps Curl
What it does: Strengthens arms and shoulders for holding Baby and improves posture
How to do it: Stand with legs hip-width apart and knees bent into a half-squat, holding dumbbells in front of thighs. Curl weights up to chest and slowly lower back to start.
As your belly grows: Take a wider stance and straighten your legs a bit; this will help stabilize you.
What it does: Tones legs, butt, and pelvic floor
How to do it: Stand with legs wider than hip-width apart and bend knees into a deep squat until you hover several inches above the mat or floor. Place hands in prayer position in front of chest and use elbows to gently open knees wide. Hold for 30 seconds.
As your belly grows: Lower your tailbone to a pillow or do it against a wall.
What it does: Tones abs, buttocks, thighs, and pelvic floor
How to do it: Lie on right side with knees bent, head on right arm. Open leg so knee points up; hold for three seconds; lower. Do one set. Repeat on left side.
As your belly grows: Do the move with your back against a wall.
What it does: Improves lower-body strength; tones abs and pelvic floor
How to do it: Start on all fours. Slowly straighten right leg and lift up to hip height. Hold for three seconds. Lower and repeat with left leg; continue alternating.
As your belly grows: Do the move on a soft surface to protect knees.
Pelvic Pillow Bridge
What it does: Strengthens pelvic floor, hips, and inner thighs
How to do it: Lie with knees bent, feet flat, arms at sides, pillow between knees. Lift hips about six inches; squeeze pillow for three seconds; lower.
As your belly grows: Sit up or lean back against a bed.
Originally published in the October 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.
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