Of course your back aches—you’re pregnant! Or you’re postpartum and carrying a newborn more than you even carry your own purse.
During pregnancy, your lower back is stressed as your baby grows and your uterus enlarges. By keeping the muscles and ligaments around your back strong and mobile, you boost your back support and work toward a pain-free pregnancy and recovery.
When I created my Expecting More program, I specifically wanted to help women keep their backs strong. Use these three exercises to prepare and persevere through all the changes your back will endure during pregnancy and beyond birth. Say goodbye to back ache!
1. Baby Breaths
As your belly grows, your posture may pay the price, giving you pregnancy back pain. As you practice this yoga-based deep breathing, you strengthen your diaphragm, and all of the muscles along the spine.
- Seated or standing, place your hands on your baby bump (or where it once was), and take a deep breath in through your nose.
- Just like you did in plank, pull your baby (or your navel) in closer to your spine. As you do this, lift your chest and roll your shoulders back like a proud mama.
- Then, deeply exhale out through the mouth, as you let your belly relax. Feel free to look down and talk to your baby as you watch your belly rise and fall.
- Repeat for a set of 10.
Hint: Perform a pelvic floor squeeze (both the muscles that stop the flow of urine and those that stop you from passing gas) as you take in and release a Baby Breath.
The plank is especially important when you’re pregnant. A strong core is essential in keeping your back safe and strong.
Focus on “hugging your baby closer to your spine,” an exercise which will protect and support your back. The more you let your back arch and essentially leave your baby unsupported, the more pain you may endure. So when you’re not lying down or sitting in a chair, try hugging your baby close to your low back throughout the day.
- Hold your body in the top of a push up with your shoulders directly over your hands.
- Engage your core but keep in mind that your core is more extensive than you may realize. It’s from your chest to your glutes (butt cheeks) and everything all the way around.
- So, in plank, “hugging your baby closer to your spine,” also means squeezing your glutes and shoulder blades together.
- Try holding the plank for 20 seconds to start and work your way to 1 minute. Don’t hold your breath while you do this; deep breaths are essential.
Hint: In plank, spread your legs farther apart to lighten the load. Practice holding the plank on your knees first. Feel free to perform the plank on a chair to lighten the load or keep baby from touching the floor. If you experience wrist pain, hold the plank on your forearms.
Once you’re about 20 weeks gestation, lying flat on your back is no longer recommended. This means you need to replace sit-ups with another great core-strengthener. Plank is a great option, but pelvic rocks, a.k.a Rock-A-Bye-Baby, not only activate the core but can also ease back pain or discomfort.
- Standing tall, place one hand on your baby and the other on your back.
- Perform a Baby Breath to set your posture in the right place.
- When you’re standing (as in Rock-a-Bye-Baby), and perform a Baby Breath, you’ll need to also think about dropping your tailbone down and softening your knees a bit.
- From here, rock your baby forward as you pull baby closer to your spine, and then rock back and allow the contraction to release.
- Repeat for a set of 20.
Hint: Sing Rock-A-Bye-Baby to yourself as you do these to create flow and control in the movement.