6 Pregnancy Exercises You Can Do on Bed Rest

These bed exercises can help you stay in shape, both physically and emotionally, if you're put on bed rest during pregnancy.

pregnant person stretching in bed

Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

Pregnancy bed rest can take a big toll on you, physically and emotionally. You can quickly lose strength, stamina, and flexibility, which may leave you feeling lethargic and unable to perform daily tasks. And it can be frustrating or boring to be sidelined day after day.

However, without leaving your couch or bed, you can do gentle exercises that will improve circulation, endurance, mobility, energy, and flexibility, minimize loss of strength, and help prevent pain and stiffness. These simple bed rest-safe exercises, paired with deep breathing, will also give you a much-needed mood boost.

Hang in there!

1. Kegels

Kegels can be done in any position. Draw the pelvic floor muscles that surround your vagina up like an elevator climbing up to your belly button, tightening them as if you are stopping the flow of urine; do not squeeze your buttocks. Hold for 10 seconds, breathing normally, then slowly release. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Benefits: Helps you identify, control, and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can help prevent urinary incontinence and speed healing after childbirth

2. Chest and Shoulder Opener

Lace your fingers behind your head, opening your elbows wide. Sit tall and lean back slightly, lifting your chest as you breathe deeply until you feel your ribcage expand. Exhale as you draw your elbows down toward your knees and relax. Repeat five times, building up to 10.

Benefits: Increases lung capacity, improves posture, stretches the chest and shoulders, and makes you feel alert and awake

3. Ribcage Breathing

Grasp your upper torso, spreading your fingers wide along your ribcage. Inhale deeply through your nose (feeling your ribcage expand under your fingers). Exhale through your mouth as you gently draw your belly in and do a Kegel. Do five times, working up to 10 repetitions.

Benefits: Strengthens your deep abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and improves breathing and circulation to give you a boost of energy

4. Gentle Pelvic Tilts

Sitting cross-legged with knees bent, inhale through your nose as you lift your chest and lengthen your neck, arching your back. Exhale through your mouth as you round your spine, gently tucking your pelvis under, and draw your abs in as you do a Kegel. Return to the starting position and do five times, building up to 10.

Benefits: Promotes circulation throughout your entire body and gently tones the deep belly muscles, aiding digestion

5. Shoulder Press

Pull your abs in and draw your shoulders back and down as you raise your arms out to the sides at shoulder height and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Inhale, then exhale as you press your arms overhead, squeezing your arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Keep squeezing as you slowly lower your arms. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Benefits: Increases upper-body strength and stamina (you'll need these to carry your baby and all their gear!) and improves posture

6. Ankle Rolls

Stretch your legs out in front of you and pull your abs in. Roll your ankles clockwise 10 times, then switch directions. Next, flex your feet, pointing your toes toward your knees. Repeat 10 times.

Benefits: Increases lower-leg circulation and helps maintain strength and flexibility

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