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There are a number of changes that happen during pregnancy, the most relevant to this post are the release of Relaxin and the separation of your abs.

Relaxin is a hormone that allows the normally fused pelvic muscles to bend and flex to make it possible for a baby to come out. The complication is that all your other joints are also relaxed, which makes them more prone to injury.

The separation of the abdominal’s is obvious, and the consequence is that your internal organs and spine are no longer supported adequately. This is not a problem while you have a belly full of fluid, but once the baby comes out…

The most common back problems i see in post natal women could have been easily prevented by adequate preparation. Proper strength training when pregnant means that when your baby comes, and you have less organ and spine muscle support, plus having to lift a 3-5kg baby 24/7, you will be better protected.

It does not make sense to enter into a physically demanding job (which childcare is) “cold turkey”.

In this picture, the abs are pulled in, and although there is a slight lean forward, she is getting a stretch up her hip and he back is nice and straight.
In this picture, the elbow obscures the fact her back is slightly curved, the belly is hanging out, and her weight is shifted forward onto her toe.  This puts a lot of pressure on the knees and lower back. whilst walking lunges are good for pregnant women, they must be done well or you do more damage than good.

Five exercises i would ask a pregnant women to perform every second day:

1) WALK- great for posture, well being, and pelvic floor.
2) Seated row- this one is again for your posture, as well as your back and lifting muscles.
3) Upright row- as above but with greater emphasis on the shoulders.
4) Hip flexor stretch- flexible hip flexors will make it easier for your abs to pull back together.

This is a fairly intense hip flexor stretch, but it gets results!

5) Teach intrinsic core synergy – your abs, pelvic floor, internal abs all co-ordinating with the breath. Breathe out as you do it, and don’t stress about squeezing the baby, they are well protected!

This is a pilates exercise to teach the abs to oppose the hip flexors. For post-baby rehab (not during pregnancy!!)

In addition, expectant mum’s need regular upper body release and mobility prescription. Many of their “activities of daily life” once the baby comes involve holding the baby, pushing prams and trolleys, and stuff that generally requires a stiff and still upper body. This means the lower body has to move for them to remain mobile, which can lead to stiffness, soreness, and back injury.

Adequate preparation and muscle strength will prevent future back problems, and manage any current back niggles. Furthermore, maintaining your “connection” to your pelvic floor is imperative to prevent or manage a possible dysfunction problem post-baby.

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