Drew Barrymore, Gisele Bundchen, Jessica Alba, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mila Kunis. Why did I just list off a bunch of female celebrities? Well they’re not just female celebrities; they’re all moms or soon-to-be moms. What’s my point? Well these women have something else in common too: they’ve all engaged in prenatal yoga—an exercise the new book Fit and Healthy Pregnancy recommends.
Just last week, popular mommy-to-be, Mila Kunis, was spotted coming out of a prenatal yoga class on her birthday. So what’s so great about prenatal yoga that so many women, celebrity or otherwise, have turned to it?
First off, exercise in general during pregnancy is as important as your pregnancy multivitamin. (You can read about the importance of exercise during pregnancy in one of our other posts such as: “The Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy” and “Is Exercise Good for Babies?”) But yoga might be of particular benefit to expectant mothers for a number of reasons, especially during the second trimester.
The second trimester is the best trimester for working out. For many women, it can feel like the midpoint in a race when all systems are go and you’re fired up with zest and strength. In fact, women often experience the expectant woman’s equivalent of a runner’s high. So this is the time to take advantage of your energy and positive outlook and to empower your health with activity oriented toward strength and wellness for you and your baby.
Not only is this an energized time during pregnancy, it’s also a time when women begin experiencing more physical discomforts such as lower back pain, postural changes, abdominal muscle separation, and leg cramps. So what can you do to combat those unfortunate changes or least make your situation more comfortable?
Do what the celebs do: prenatal yoga. Strength work during pregnancy will help your back before, during, and after delivery, making labor easier, (as many celebrity moms have reported). Plank and side-plank yoga poses will fortify your core and back and help prevent pain from motor weakness, muscle contraction, and posture changes.
You can also develop excellent ab and back strength with standing core exercises that can be performed comfortably into the seventh month of pregnancy. Just remember to avoid lying flat on your back when exercising during the second trimester because the weight of the uterus on the big vessels that bring blood back to the heart will decrease blood flow.
Remember to always listen to your body when working out during pregnancy, whether you’re doing yoga, cycling, swimming or any other exercise. If you’re looking for an example of a good yoga pose to test out, follow the training tip below, one of many detailed in Fit and Healthy Pregnancy:
To strengthen those back and abdominal muscles, do plank poses every day. Start with two sets of 20 to 30 seconds each for the basic plank and side plank on both sides, working your way to 2 to 3 sets of 60 to 90 seconds for reach position. Keep your spine as straight as possible; resist the urge to push your rear out and back. If necessary, make the planks easier to adapt to your changing weight by lying on your side and keeping your lower knee on the mat, with that leg bent behind you. To make a basic plank easier, put your weight on your knees instead of your feet or open your legs wider and hold yourself up on your palms instead of your forearms.
Please consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program during pregnancy.
Fit & Healthy Pregnancy dispels generations of old wives’ tales about exercise and pregnancy. Exercise during pregnancy isn’t just safe, it’s healthy for you and your baby. This modern, comprehensive guide shows active women how to stay strong and in shape before, during, and after pregnancy.