By Jennifer Blake |
While pregnancy isn’t the time to focus on training your core muscles, you can still take steps to maintain your fitness and keep your midsection strong during your pregnancy. Embracing this approach can help keep your perinatal pelvic floor strong and increase your sense of control during labor. A strong core can also alleviate the pressure that carrying a baby puts on your back and support proper posture to fend off the lower-back pain.
Postnatal, your pelvic floor muscles, the base of your core that supports your bladder, uterus, and rectum, may be lengthened and weakened. A commonly associated symptom of a weakened pelvic floor is stress urinary incontinence (SUI), when physical movement or activity, such as coughing, sneezing, running, or heavy lifting results in slight to moderate urination.
“SUI is not an ‘injury’ per se, but it’s an indication of failure of the deep central stability system, or the core,” explains Julie Wiebe, PT, a Los Angeles–based physical therapist who specializes in helping women return to fitness after injury and pregnancy.
Peeing during activity is common for many women with a weakened pelvic floor — including women who have not given birth — but it can be prevented. (Surprise! The answer isn’t more Kegel exercises.)
These three core-strengthening drills are safe for pregnant women, though they can benefit anyone with a weak pelvic floor. Perform them three times a week, completing all reps of each exercise before moving on to the next.
- Make the move more challenging by raising your arm straight up as you lift the opposite foot.
- Perform 10 to 20 reps.
Pelvic-Floor Breath Squats
- Perform as many reps as you can with good form, up to 10 to 15 reps per side.