5. Plié with full squat Stand facing the back of a chair, feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes turned out. If you need to, hold top of chair for balance. As you progress, place hands on hips. All levels: Contract abs; drop tailbone toward floor. Lift chest and relax shoulders. With body weight toward heels and back straight, bend at hips and knees and lower into a plié, maintaining back position. Return to starting position. Repeat. After the last rep, hold onto chair for support and lower into a squat; keep heels on floor and buttocks close to heels. Hold at least 30 seconds; build up to 5 minutes. To come out of the squat, let go of chair, sit on buttocks, then roll onto side and all fours. Bend 1 knee and stand. To modify: Hold chair for balance during plié. While squatting, do a Kegel; hold it for 10 seconds. Build up to l0–20 Kegels. Strengthens thighs and buttocks; increases leg and pelvic flexibility for labor.
6. Pelvic tilts Kneel on all fours, feet flexed, toes on the floor. Keep your knees in line with your hips, hands in line with your shoulders. Contract abdominals so that your spine is in a neutral position; relax your shoulders. Contract even further to tilt your pelvis down and forward. Release and repeat. To modify: If your wrists hurt, rest on your fists rather than the palms of your hands. Strengthens abdominals.
7. Side-lying abduction Lie on your left side, head supported on your upper arm. Bend legs at a 45- to 60-degree angle, pelvis in neutral position. For added resistance, hold dumbbell on right thigh (or place a resistance band, tied in a loop, around both ankles). Keeping hips squared and right knee forward, toes relaxed, lift your leg slightly higher than hip height without rolling forward or backward. Lower to starting position, do reps and repeat with other leg. To modify: Don’t lift leg so high. Place a pillow over your arm as a head rest. Strengthens outer hips.
8. Ab training Sit cross-legged against a support that makes contact with your entire back. Let your arms relax at your sides, or place them on your belly to feel your breathing and abdominal contractions. Inhale, expanding your belly. Then exhale slowly, contracting your abdominals inward. Count out loud for 30 counts to make sure you’re not holding your breath. Then, with your belly pulled fully inward toward your spine, contract your abs again, now with small inward pulses for l0 slow counts. Strengthens abdominals.