Women who are at risk for preterm labor or fetal growth restriction must reduce their level of activity in the second and third trimesters, according to ACOG. Also, women who are severely overweight or underweight or who are heavy smokers may need to curtail aerobic exercise during pregnancy.
4 must-do strengtheners
Do each of these exercises 4–5 times a week to keep your muscles strong throughout pregnancy.
SQUAT Hold top of chair (or fence) for support. Contract abdominals and bend your knees until you are
almost in a sitting position. Straighten legs to starting position and repeat. Do 10–15 repetitions; after the last rep, widen your stance and do one more squat, dropping buttocks toward the ground. Stay in this position for l0–15 seconds. Do 2–3 sets of l0–15 reps. Strengthens legs and buttocks.
WALL PUSH-UP Face a wall or other support, feet hip-width apart. Place hands on wall at chest height, hands slightly wider than shoulders, arms straight. Press hips forward so your body forms a straight line. Bend elbows and lean chest toward support. Push back to starting position and repeat. Do 2–3 sets of 12–15 reps, resting one minute between sets. Strengthens the chest, shoulders and triceps.
BELLY BREATHING Sitting with your legs crossed and your back against a wall, place your hands lightly on your belly. Inhale, expanding your rib cage and belly into your hands; then exhale, pulling your navel in toward your spine as much as possible. Repeat. Do 2 sets of 16–20 reps, resting one minute between sets. Continue throughout your pregnancy. Strengthens the abdominals.
KEGELS While standing or sitting, tighten your vaginal-wall muscles as if stopping the flow of urine; pull upward and inward by squeezing the muscles. Hold and count to 3, then relax. Repeat for 5 counts; relax and repeat. Gradually work up to holding each Kegel for 10 counts. Do 5 sets 3 times throughout the day. Strengthens the pelvic-floor muscles, which act as a sling for the bladder, uterus and rectum.