The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Coordination, Balance and Good Posture
These first two exercises will help you become comfortable with using the ball as a piece of fitness equipment, as well as help you learn coordination, proper posture and balance as your belly grows.
Sit upright on top of the ball, arms relaxed by your sides and feet flat on the floor a comfortable distance from the ball and about hip-width apart [A]. Notice that your back, abdominal and leg muscles all work together to keep you balanced. Reach arms up overhead [B]. Squeeze shoulder blades down and together as you lower your arms to starting position. Stay centered without moving your torso as you raise and lower your arms.
2. Arm and Leg lift
Sit erect on top of the ball with your hands on your thighs, feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart and a comfortable distance from the ball [A]. Maintaining your balance, straighten your left leg and lift it up to hip level. At the same time, lift your arms out to the sides up to shoulder height [B]. Return to starting position and perform with your right leg; do reps alternating legs. (Note: If extending your leg is difficult, keep your knee bent and just lift your foot off the floor.) Strong abs and back The following two exercises will help you concentrate on contracting your abs and strengthening your back—both of which prepare you for labor. To stabilize your body while working on your abs, anchor your toes against a wall or sofa.
3. Ab Crunch
Sit upright on the ball, then walk your feet forward, keeping your feet in front of your knees. Continue taking small steps until your lower back rests against the ball, feet are flat on the floor and knees bent. Your hips should be lower than your shoulders, and your body should be at an incline. Place your hands behind your head, fingertips touching but not clasped [A]. Exhale, contract abs in toward spine and lift head, arms and shoulders up and forward [B]. Release and return to incline position. Do reps, then walk your feet back in so you can sit up. Use your leg, back and buttock muscles to stabilize each position. (Note if you have diastasis recti: Cross arms over your belly and hold it tightly, as a kind of splint, while you do your crunches. You can also wrap your belly with a towel for support. To determine if you have a diastasis, see page 25.)
Get back into the incline position (see 3) then walk your feet out even farther so that only your head, neck and shoulders are resting on the ball. Place your hands on the floor for support. Start with your hips as high as your shoulders; keep buttocks tight [A]. Release buttocks and let your hips lower slowly down to the floor [B]. Lift hips up to starting position and repeat. Torso and leg strength