the big 5
easy prenatal exercise essentials to get and keep you in shape
4. back strength
Exercise Rx: Spine extension
Why you need it: A strong back helps counterbalance the weight of your growing belly during pregnancy. It will also help support you through childbirth.
How to do it: Place both hands shoulder-width apart on a sturdy support that’s about chest height. Separate your feet about hip-width apart or slightly wider if it feels more comfortable. Bend your knees slightly. Inhale; then exhale and round your spine upward like a cat, letting your head drop naturally [A]. Inhale and move from a rounded-back position to a slightly arched back, pressing your shoulders back and away from your ears. (You’ll also feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings.) Hold the arch for 15 seconds [B]. Repeat this sequence 5–8 times.
5. belly strength
Exercise Rx: Supported crunch
Why you need it: Strong abs will provide support for your growing belly.
How to do it: Lie on your back with your head and shoulders propped up on rolled-up towels so they rest higher than your belly. Your knees should be bent and your feet flat on the ground, fingertips touching behind your head [A]. Take a belly breath to expand your belly; then exhale and pull your navel in toward your spine as you lift your head, neck and shoulders upward [B]. Lower slowly and do 2 sets of 16–20 reps, resting 1 minute between sets. (Note: In your first trimester, you may not need to elevate your head and shoulders on towels. If the crunch position feels too uncomfortable even with your head and shoulders elevated, sit cross-legged with your back against a wall and switch to belly-breathing exercises: Every time you exhale, focus on pulling your bellybutton in toward your spine.)