Benefits to you:
Improves daily energy levels and gives you more stamina to get through labour
Improves the efficiency of your circulation, which becomes more sluggish during pregnancy, ie swollen ankles, varicose veins, piles, constipation etc
Improves muscular strength and endurance making it easier to carry the increased weight and perform everyday tasks
Improves muscular balance to cope with progressive postural changes
Reduces aches and pains caused by poor posture
Controls additional weight gain
Increases feelings of well-being though exercise induced release of endorphins
Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and improves sleep patterns
Enhances confidence and helps maintain a positive attitude towards labour
Increases body awareness to help you get through the challenge of labour and delivery and stay in control
Improves pregnancy outcome
Quicker postnatal recovery, after an uncomplicated delivery, and earlier return to fitness
Benefits to Baby:
Exercise early in pregnancy stimulates placental growth
Exercise in late pregnancy may improve placental function.
Babies from active mums tend to be leaner, with stronger muscles.
Sound and vibratory stimuli before birth may accelerate the development of baby’s brain.
You’d be right to think your pelvic floor is also undergoing its own weight training programme but unfortunately the effects of the hormone relaxin combined with the weight of baby means these muscles need as much help as possible to maintain support and continence. It is essential to exercise them regularly.
These exercises can be done any time, any place, anywhere but always with the spine in an upright position – not slumped, like on the sofa! Nobody should be able to tell if you are doing them except maybe for that twinkle in your eye. Next time you think give it a wink!
This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
Draw the two sides of the pelvic floor in towards the centre and wrap around the front passage as if to stop yourself having a wee. Lift up inside and hold for a few seconds, continuing to breathe, then release with control.
If you find there is nothing left to release and the contraction has been lost you’ve probably held it for too long. Start with just a couple of seconds and only progress when you can lower confidently without letting it drop. This is just the same as doing a biceps curl with a weight in your hand – you need to control both phases of the movement – the pelvic floor is no different!
Gradually build up to a longer hold. Remember to keep breathing throughout and adopt an upright position.
This exercise will help prevent any embarrassing leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh or lift something heavy.
Stand or sit in an upright position as before. Tighten and lift the pelvic floor in one quick contraction and release immediately Snatch the snatch! Pause before repeating four times.
NB: Aim to make your fourth repetition as strong and quick as the first. You may find this difficult to do initially but stick with it and monitor your own progress. It’s never to late to start but once you do it should be an exercise for life!