Dear Fitness Expert,
Can you suggest exercises that will help my body get ready for labor? Also, I am concerned about getting so big so fast. Are there exercises that will keep stomach muscles firm?
It's great that you are asking this question now. Too often, women wait until delivery time to ponder the question of endurance during labor & delivery. With this attitude, you are ahead of the game.
Reportedly, the muscles most used (or said to be most sore after labor & delivery) are in the back, tricep and bicep (arms) and, hips. Women who trained two or three times a week -- just twenty minutes -- on circuit training claimed to have an easier delivery.
If you do not belong to a gym, you can easily simulate your own "circuit" training.The two best weight lifting routines for arms and legs are:
But you still need to work cardiovascularly. Without knowing your fitness level, it is difficult to make suggestions. You can continue with whatever your fitness routine was throughout your pregnancy (barring horseback riding, skiing, scuba diving). Speak to you physician about inner core temperature and heart rate. He or she should be able to make a proper assessment given your fitness level.
But cardio is important. Whether you are walking, cycling... keep moving. You will need your endurance during labor. With the weight training comes the strength to push.
Your concern about your stomach expanding is the most common. A proper fitness and nutrition routine will help you from gaining excessive weight. Cutting back on sodium keeps you from bloating. But don't spend needless hours worrying about your expanding waistline.
Fitness model whose careers rely on streamline figures know that as long as they exercise and focus on proper nutrition, their bodies will return to normal. It is called "muscle memory." I have spoken with countless fitness pros who all did light workouts -- what I have outlined for you -- stayed away from junk foods, did light crunches (3 sets of 20) to maintain the "memory" and let their waistline grow in a healthy manner.
Outline a workout routine with your physician. Or, ask that he or she recommend you to someone in your area who can help you as you body changes.
Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.
Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!