The first trimester of your pregnancy will present you with a series of physical and mental challenges, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise on a regular basis. Although there are risks inherent with physical exertion during the first trimester, they are tiny – and greatly outweighed by the benefits of regular activity. These 10 relatively simple exercises will ensure you can stay in shape during those all-important first few weeks of pregnancy.
This post was written and brought to you by a guest author.
- Bicep curls
Sit on a sturdy chair with a three to five pound dumbbell in each hand. Keep your knees still and relax your legs while slowly curling each weight – one at a time. The dumbbell should touch your shoulder before you slowly bring it back to its original position. Lift each weight 10 times for a set, and complete two full sets for a complete workout for your arms, shoulders and upper back.
Grab a large exercise ball and gently sit on it. Slowly inhale, allow your abdomen to rise, and then exhale with a single controlled breath. While you exhale, make sure you tighten the muscles in your pelvic area, and hold them tight for five seconds between inhales and exhales. Performing at least 20 of these breathing exercises a day will strength and tone your abdominal and pelvic muscles in readiness for labor.
- Standing crunches
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and place your hands behind your head. Bend your knees slightly, and slowly raise your arms in the air. At the same time, you should exhale and gently arch your back outwards as if your belly button is being pulled into your spine. You should return to the starting position while slowly inhaling. Perform 15 of these exercises for a single set, and try to complete at least two sets every day.
- Leg lifts
Lie on your left side and use your left arm to support your head. Wrap your right leg around your left, and slowly raise the left as high as your hips let you. You should then lower your left leg until it’s two inches from the floor, and then repeat the exercise. Aim for 20 repetitions with the same leg, and then switch sides.
If you are looking for a low impact exercise that will work the main muscle groups, swimming is ideal during the first trimester of your pregnancy. It will deliver a robust cardiovascular exercise without subjecting your joints to unnecessary stress.
- Lateral shoulder lifts
Place an exercise mat on the floor and sit on it with your legs loosely crossed. Take a three pound dumbbell in each hand and hold them by your sides. You should then slowly lift both arms at the same time, until they are parallel with your shoulders. Hold the weights for five seconds, and then gradually lower them to the floor, inhaling as you do.
Start in an upright position with your feet shoulder-width part. Stretch your arms out in front of your chest, and slowly assume a squatting position. Tighten your abdominal muscles, and hold your shoulders back as you descend into each squat. Hold the pose, and gently rise back to your starting position. Repeat this 15 times for a complete set, and aim to complete two sets every day.
- Prenatal yoga
Prenatal yoga is a gentle and relaxing exercise regime that is suitable for women in all three trimesters of pregnancy. It can be used to improve posture and muscle suppleness, and many participants report heightened energy levels as a result of regular sessions. A series of stretches and breathing exercises will keep you flexible, fit and ready for the rigors of childbirth.
- Cat poses
Start this exercise by getting on all fours. Your hands should be directly below your shoulders, and your knees should be directly under your hips. Inhale, and arch your back so your belly points to the floor – looking to the ceiling as you do. Hold this pose for five seconds, and then arch your back upwards while dropping your head down. Remember to inhale when raising your head and exhale when dropping it. This will give you a great core-body workout that should strengthen the muscles in your abdomen and pelvic area.
- Shoulder presses
Stand upright with a three to five pound dumbbell in each hand. Bend slightly at the knees and keep your stomach as tight as you can. Start each repetition with your arms by your side, and then gently raise them above your head, stopping when each arm is completely straight and at a right angle with the ground. You should then slowly bring them back to your sides. Repeat this exercise 15 times for a single set, and try to perform at least two sets every day.
Having a baby can be hard on the body, but with a comprehensive pregnancy fitness plan and some sensible lifestyle choices, you can stay fit, flexible and prepared for labor.