GREAT HEALTH: Exercises: Pre & Post Pregnancy | Great Health Guide
GREAT HEALTH: Exercises: Pre & Post Pregnancy

GREAT HEALTH: Exercises: Pre & Post Pregnancy

“Exercises: Pre & Post Pregnancy” written by Margarita Gurevich published in Great Health Guide (March 2017). Exercising is vital for health and wellbeing in all stages of life, exercising is particularly important before and during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a beautiful time, and to reduce the likelihood of some body pain during pregnancy be sure to exercise but only after receiving the OK from your doctor.  
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Great Health: Exercises: Pre & Post Pregnancy

written by Margarita Gurevich

The importance of exercise for optimal health and wellbeing is well proven. While it’s imperative that we stay active and fit throughout all stages of life, exercising before and during pregnancy is particularly necessary.


While pregnancy is a very exciting and special time, it can possess some challenges, such as back and neck pain, pelvic instability and carpal tunnel. One reason for this is the release of the hormone relaxin during pregnancy – it makes the ligaments more lax in preparation for childbirth but also makes the spine and joints more vulnerable to injury or aches and pains. To counteract this you need to improve the strength and activation of muscles that support your spine and joints. The main muscle groups that need to be strengthened are the core and pelvic floor; buttock and hip muscles; postural muscles. Pelvic floor exercises performed in the postnatal period could help in reducing the risk of postpartum urinary incontinence.

Not all exercises are safe to do during pregnancy however. High impact exercises such as running, jumping and boxing or lifting heavy weights, can be risky especially once in the second trimester. Also there are specific positions that need to be avoided. Taking all of this into account plus the fact that pregnancies do differ in each individual, it is important to consult your specialist doctor or obstetrician before commencing any new exercise program whilst pregnant. Once given the OK to exercise, it is important to exercise consistently. Below is a simple exercise routine that can be done at home. Please note that you should not experience any pain except muscle pain; if at any stage you start feeling pain in your spine or joints, stop immediately and consult your physiotherapist. Repeat each exercise twelve times.

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While the term ‘core’ applies to all the muscles that stabilize our spine and joints, in this exercise we are referring to the core muscles of the lower stomach and back. Even though the only way to make sure that they are being activated correctly is to have them assessed using Real Time Ultrasound, these exercises will still help you to start engaging them.

i). Lie on your back with the knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Slowly straighten one leg out in front, then return to the starting position.

Harder version: Lie on your back with the knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Hold your arms out in front (elbows straight). Slowly straighten out one leg, taking the arms up above your head at the same time, then return to the starting position.

Note: if you are in your second or third trimester, check with your obstetrician whether it’s still safe for you to do exercises lying on your back.

ii). Kneeling on the floor, on all fours, slowly straighten one leg out behind you, then bring it back.

Harder version: Kneeling on the floor, slowly straighten out opposite arm and leg, then bring them back.


Lie on your back with the knees bent. Switch on your lower stomach muscles. Raise the buttocks off the bed and hold for 5 seconds. If you can’t lie on your back try the following version instead: Kneeling, straighten one leg out behind you. Make sure that the lower stomach muscles are on.


Clam shells: Lying on your side, have the knees bent. Keep the heels together and lift the top knee up, then bring it back down.

Leg raises: Lying on your side, have your legs straight. Lift the top leg up into the air (not too high). Make sure your trunk does not move or roll backwards. Then bring your leg back down.


Keeping the shoulder blades down and back, perform a wall push-up (short range).

Harder version: As above but perform the wall push-up using one arm.


Lie on your back with the knees bent. Engage your core, then squeeze around the front and back passages. Make sure that you don’t tighten your buttocks (only the pelvic floor muscles should be working). You should feel a definite letting go when you relax. This exercise can also be done in a sitting position.


Author of this article:
Margarita Gurevich is Senior Physiotherapist at Health Point Physiotherapy. She completed B. Phty degree at La Trobe University and Diploma of SCENAR Therapy in Moscow SCENAR Centre. Margarita extensively uses Clinical Pilates, SCENAR therapy & other evidence-based techniques, including Real Time Ultrasound and McKenzie treatment. She specialises in Sports Injuries, Women’s Health (including incontinence) and gastrointestinal issues.

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Author Kathryn Dodd

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