Pregnancy Workouts for Couples

You’ve probably been told a time or two by your OBGYN and mom friends that working out during pregnancy is good for you and your baby. Yes, you may need to modify your pregnancy workouts and exclude some potentially dangerous activities for awhile (bye bye bikes, horseback riding and skiing), but exercise during pregnancy offers some amazing health benefits including stress relief, improved flexibility and strength to handle your growing body (which also helps during labor and delivery), and weight management. And you can reap these benefits with your partner in crime! Today we’re exploring pregnancy workouts for couples to keep both you and your hubs in good shape and ready to welcome your sweet new baby.

While you’re carrying the brunt of the body changes during pregnancy, your partner is an integral part of the experience. From helping prepare your home for your baby’s arrival, to supporting your physical and emotional health, dads-to-be are growing and changing in their own ways. Studies have even shown the hormonal shift that occurs in expectant dads during pregnancy resulting in “pregnancy symptoms” for fathers as well. And up to half of men gain weight during their partner’s pregnancy. What better way to combat the bulge than pregnancy workouts for couples?

Especially when you’re pregnant, having a partner around can make working out more enjoyable and safer too. Pregnancy takes a lot of adjustment so it’s hard to know how your body will respond to different exercises during each stage. With your husband around you’ll always have backup should you need a little assistance. Plus you can spend some quality bonding time together before the baby arrives, which may not happen often in just a few months. And of course you’ll both get the physical and mental benefits of working out, made even better by companionship.

Pregnancy Workouts for Couples

Pregnancy Workouts for CouplesWalking: Anything from a stroll to a power walk can make a great pregnancy workout for couples. Find your pace and get moving at least three times a week. Check out different parks and neighborhoods if you’re feeling adventurous, or stick to an indoor track if it makes you more comfortable. Be careful of treadmills and other gym equipment – the rebalance of body weight during pregnancy may have you feeling a little off-kilter. Also avoid rocky areas and steep mountain terrains where you would be more likely to fall.

Swimming: The weightlessness of water submersion can feel so good during pregnancy. You may not have the stamina for endless laps, but do what you can and then do some water calisthenics to round out your workout. The resistance of the water can be a powerful workout without the impact of regular aerobic exercise.

Partner Prenatal Yoga: When your schedules align, practice partner prenatal yoga. This mind-body workout will not only challenge your bodies, but also keep you connected and grounded during this exciting and anxious time in your lives. Partner prenatal yoga consists of pregnancy-safe moves where you and your partner support each other’s weight and help each other stretch. Plus, it incorporates wonderful breathing techniques that may help you during labor and delivery.

Weight Training: Weight training with light hand weights during pregnancy is a fantastic way to pump your heart rate and stay toned. It also allows you and partner to select appropriate weights for your fitness levels and your partner can be close by to ensure you are safe. Try simple arm strengthening moves to hit each upper body muscle group once or twice, and then use weights for resistance during squats, lunges or reclining leg-lifts. Take breaks as needed and unlike your pre-pregnancy workouts, there’s no need to engage your core!

Remember, follow the recommendations of your physician regarding exercise during pregnancy. Only workout to your fitness level and discontinue exercise that causes pain or unusual symptoms.

Also, gear up with a nursing sports bra that will take you from pregnancy through breastfeeding. The comfort and support is unbeatable and you’ll be ready to get back in the swing of exercise once your little one arrives.

Sources: Fit Pregnancy, Parent’s World and Baby Med

Prenatal Exercises that help with Labor & Delivery

You probably know that exercise is not only allowed during pregnancy, but actually encouraged.  While extreme exercise isn’t recommended, keeping your body moving will increase oxygenated blood flow to your baby and give moms the energy they need to sustain a pregnancy.

Another great benefit of exercise is that it increases stamina and endurance, two important requirements for labor and delivery.  Studies show that moms who are in better shape before and during pregnancy have a shorter and easier labor because they are better able to handle the physical demands.  After all, they don’t call it labor for nothing.

The main muscles required for labor and delivery are those of your core.  Core muscles include a range of abdominal muscles, back muscles and the pelvic floor.  The weight of your growing belly requires a lot of back strength.  Going into labor with a sore back will only make things worse during the process.  The most significant abdominal muscle required for childbirth is the transverse abdominus, which warps around your lower core.  This muscle expands and contracts forwards and backwards and can help you push during delivery.   Additionally, a strong pelvic floor supports an easier vaginal birth and also improves incontinence after childbirth, a common complaint of women who have had vaginal deliveries.

So which exercises are best suited to prepare you for childbirth?  We’ve got your covered with these prenatal exercises that help with labor and delivery:

Prenatal Exercises that help with Labor & Delivery

Pelvic Tilt:  Lower yourself to an animal-like position on all fours starting with your head in line with your neutral back.  Slowly draw in your pelvis as if there were a string pulling your belly button towards your hands.  Your back will create a camel hump.  Hold this curl for 5 seconds and then release into the opposite position with your tailbone stretched upwards as much as possible.  Repeat 10 times.

Kegels:  This is the tried and true exercise that all women should do for a stronger pelvic floor.  This exercise can be done almost anywhere so take advantage of quiet moments in your car, at your desk or in bed to get in four or five kegel sessions a day.  Kegels are done by drawing in your vaginal muscles without using your thighs, butt or abs.  If you aren’t sure how to do it, try stopping yourself during urination and you’ll recognize the muscles you’re targeting in a kegel.

Butterfly:  Sit on the floor with the bottoms of your feet clapping.  Your legs will look sort of like butterfly wings.  Push your legs towards the floor until you feel a stretch.  Sit up with your back as tall as possible.  Do not bounce the stretch.  This will open your hips and pelvis while also supporting your back muscles and posture.

Squat:  This oldie but goodie is hard but effective.  With your feet shoulder distance apart, bend your knees and lean backwards so your weight is only on your heels.  Never let your knees come further than your toes.  Straighten and repeat.  Squats open your pelvis significantly, which is helpful when you’re trying to push a pair of baby shoulders through such a narrow cavity.

Belly Breathing:  Sitting upright on the floor with your legs crossed, hold your belly and take deep breaths in-and-out.  Use your abdominal muscles to expand and contract with each breath.  The inner transverse abdominus will help you push your baby along the birth canal during contractions.

Childbirth is physically demanding but you can prepare your body with these prenatal exercises that help with labor and delivery.  Ready…Set…Push!

Prenatal Yoga

Prenatal YogaAs your pregnancy progresses, aches, pains and a latent fear seem to be progressing with it. Soon that adorable baby bump will be a ninth month old pregnant tummy that’s read to pop; and then you’ll undergo contractions, labor pains, child birth and, of course, motherhood. Anxiety-ridden questions begin swirling around in your head – will child birth hurt, will something go wrong, am I cut out to be a mother, will all this stress somehow hurt my baby?

Instead of letting your concerns overpower your excitement, consider trying one of the most relaxing, deep-rooted practices for soon to be mothers: prenatal yoga. This well-established exercise focuses on toning your mommy muscles, improving your balance, keeping you limber, bettering your circulation, and educating key breathing techniques.

Yoga classes will generally begin by teaching you to rejuvenate your pregnant body through the core inhalation and exhalation method called ujjayi pranayama (ooh-jah-yee prah-nah-yah-mah). Ujjayi shows you how to fill your lungs while tightening your throat and breathing through your nose. It is believed that controlled breathing will bring positive changes to your emotional, mental, and physical health as a mother. Unlike alternative breathing techniques, Ujjayi is performed through all poses, assisting you in releasing any repressed feelings or sensations.

Instead of allowing your fears to take over, this helps to maintain a balanced, consistent breath to relax your mind and focus completely on the present moment. When fearful, your body produces more adrenalin and less oxytocin, the hormone that helps your labor progress. Ujjayi will teach you to relax and dismiss the urge to tighten up due to pain or fear. This, in turn, will help you face the physical and mental demands of labor, childbirth, and motherhood.

Besides offering numerous health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved breathing rates, prenatal yoga also provides the opportunity to become a part of a pregnant community. With other mothers undergoing the same or similar experiences in an encouraging, compassionate environment, you will be given regular motivation to continue your exercise.

Keep in mind that you will need to take common exercise precautions due to your pregnancy. Speak with a qualified prenatal yoga instructor or your doctor before beginning a class to make sure your experience will be safe and beneficial.