7 Simple Prenatal Exercises From An Expert Prenatal Fitness Coach

As an informed, expectant mother, you have probably read about the benefits of staying active during pregnancy. Exercise helps manage pregnancy aches and pains, decreases your risk of gestational diabetes, promotes healthy weight gain and contributes to an overall healthier pregnancy. If you're in the early stages of pregnancy and looking for safe and effective free prenatal workouts and prenatal exercises that you can do at home, you've come to the right place. I am Coach Joanie an expert prenatal fitness coach and in this guide, I will introduce you to 7 prenatal strength training exercises and prenatal stretches that you can do from the comfort of your home.  The goal of exercise during pregnancy is to keep you healthy and active while reaping all the benefits that help you alleviate common pregnancy-related discomforts like back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic girdle pain, sciatica, diastasis recti and strength loss. The advantages of working with a certified and expert prenatal fitness trainer are that you can ensure your exercises are tailored and safe.

Prenatal Exercises For Strength & Safety

As an expert pregnancy and prenatal fitness coach, I want to advise that it's vital to ensure your prenatal workouts are safe and guided. I have years of experience in this specialized field and I would recommend you organize a quick consultation with me before diving into any strenuous exercises. Why? Because I’ve seen the first hand effects of someone doing these exercises with guidance vs without the guidance of a prenatal fitness trainer. It’s not because I think you are going to harm yourself in any way, but because I believe everyone should have access to a customized prenatal workout that is exactly what their body needs during pregnancy. Each of our bodies is built and moves differently and your prenatal workout should honor and celebrate that. Having an experienced prenatal fitness coach in your corner can ensure you are training the correct muscles, gaining strength in all the right places and leave you feeling like the strongest version of yourself possible.

Please click on the link here and book a time for the consultation that suits you best.

Here are 7, easy-to-follow prenatal strength training exercises and prenatal stretches that I recommend as a general rule to help increase strength & mobility, reduce tension and make your pregnancy as comfortable as possible.

1.Pelvic Tilt

Targets:  This exercise helps strengthen the muscles of the lower abdominals, inner core and pelvic floor.

How to:

  • Stand against a wall with your feet hip-width apart, ensuring your shoulders, upper back, and buttocks are touching the wall. 

  • Exhale and push your lower back against the wall by tilting your pelvis upward. Imagine you are zipping the core from the pelvic floor up to the belly button as you tuck.  

  • Untuck your pelvis and return your back to neutral and you inhale and release all muscle tension.

What do you feel? Can you feel activation in your pelvic floor and lower abs? Are you able to feel that muscle tension release as you untuck?  Is there one direction your pelvis feels like it spends more time in (tail up vs tail under)?

Benefits: Reduces back pain, alleviates pelvic floor dysfunction and keeps the pelvis mobile as you experience all the shifts and changes happening to this area of the body during pregnancy   

2.Wall Push-Ups:

Targets; Chest, shoulders, arms, postural muscles and core.

How to: 

  • Stand facing a wall with your feet hip-width apart and arms extended, hands placed on the wall. 

  • Slowly bend your elbows and bring your chest towards the wall while keeping your body in a straight line. 

  • Connect with the center of your back and core muscles as you push through your hands to return to the starting position.

What do you feel? Decide whether it feels better for you to inhale or exhale on the way up and down.  Can you feel the muscles at the front of your chest, your pecs?  If not, adjust the placement of your hands to be wider, more narrow, more turned in or turned out.  Can you hug your core muscles towards you as you exhale?  Can you connect to the center of your back, your scapular (shoulder blades) muscles? Does this cause any pain or discomfort anywhere?

Benefits: This exercise bolsters upper body strength and helps alleviate upper back pain, especially as your body experiences postural shifts and weight gain.

3. Squat:

Targets: Glutes, quads, hips and pelvic floor muscles.

How to: 

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart in a comfortable position. (I don't prescribe to turning your feet out to a certain degree-we are all built differently) 

  • Keep your chest lifted and back straight as you sit your hips back and down as if you're sitting in a chair. It’s helpful to imagine that your sitz bones are placing two dots of paint on the wall behind you as you lower.  

  • Push through your heels to return to the standing position.

What do you feel? Decide whether it feels better for you to inhale or exhale on the way up and down.  It doesn’t matter when you breathe, what matters is that you are breathing!  Also notice what muscles you feel activating.  Can you connect with your glutes?  Do you feel pain in your knees?  Do you feel imbalances anywhere?

Benefits: They can help open up the hips and increase range of motion which will help aid during labor and delivery 

4. Kegel Exercises:

Targets: Pelvic floor muscles

How To: 

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.

  • Inhale and release all muscle tension to prepare.

  • Exhale and imagine you're trying to stop the flow of urine and stop yourself from passing gas . 

  • Contract the pelvic floor muscles for 3-5 seconds and then relax for the same amount of time.

What do you feel? Can you feel the same amount of engagement at the front of the pelvic floor as the back?  Do you feel any differences between the left and right halves of your pelvic floor? Are you having trouble contracting or relaxing the muscles?

Benefits: Helping to reduce pelvic floor dysfunction, such as incontinence, leaking, pain, pressure while also providing support for the growing uterus.

5. Pregnancy Band Row

Targets: Back, lats, and shoulders

How To:

  • Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor

  • Fasten a resistance band around your feet and grip the ends.

  • With a straight back, and elbows close to your sides, pull the band towards you while contracting the lower part of your shoulder blades. 

  • Gradually release

What do you feel? Can you feel your arms pulling from the bottom of your shoulder blades vs your upper traps and neck?  Can you activate your core and “hug” your baby closer to you as you pull? What other muscles feel like they are involved?

Benefits: A classic pregnancy strength training exercise that promotes better posture and alleviates back, shoulder and trap pain. 

6. Transverse Abdominis Activation aka Core Breathing Belly Pump® (Fit For Birth)

Targets: The muscles of your “inner core unit”: Diaphragm, Pelvic floor, Transverse Abdominis, multifidus muscle

How To:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your hands placed on your lower abdomen.

  • Inhale and relax your belly and pelvic floor. 

  • Exhale and gently draw a zipper in and up from the pelvic floor to the bottom of the ribs. You can also think of giving your baby a close hug. 

  • Hold for 5 seconds while continuing to exhale. 

  • Inhale, relax your core and pelvic floor

What do you feel? Can you feel the difference between your core being turned on vs turned off?  How strong does your “hug” feel?  Can you fully relax your core as you inhale? Can you hold the “hug” for a full 5 seconds?

Benefits: This exercise helps prevent diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction, 

strengthens your core, increases your posture and takes undo pressure off the hips 

and spine. 

7. Side-Lying Leg Lift

Target: Hips and Thighs

How to: 

  • Lie on your side with your legs extended and one leg stacked on top of the other. 

  • Keep your head resting on your arm so you spine stays aligned and your other hand on the floor for support. 

  • Lift your top leg towards the ceiling while keeping your toes pointing forward. Be sure to maintain a stable and stacked pelvis.

  • Slowly lower it back down.

What do you feel? Are you able to maintain a stable pelvis?  Do you feel like one leg has more mobility than the other?  Does this movement create any discomfort or pain in the legs or pelvis?

Benefits:  This exercise minimizes the risks of pelvic girdle pain and strengthens your hip abductors.

Remember, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to prenatal strength training or workouts.  When it comes to pregnancy and prenatal workouts, the number 1 rule is to listen to your body and make modifications as needed. Staying consistent with your prenatal exercise plan will help you build strength throughout your pregnancy, making it easier for you to carry and deliver your baby. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can also help you reduce common pregnancy-related discomforts and increase your strength, enabling you to enjoy a more comfortable and healthy pregnancy.

This is your opportunity to book a no-cost appointment with an expert prenatal fitness trainer and we can talk about how to ensure the best results, safest approach and the peace of mind that you are doing exactly what your body needs. As an expert pregnancy fitness coach I will tailor your workouts to ensure that you are reaching the pregnancy fitness goals that are right for your stage of pregnancy, lifestyle and needs. 

Hi I'm Coach Joanie

It's my lifelong mission to support pregnant & postpartum people like you, on their healthy & strong parenthood journey. I started out as a prenatal personal trainer in NYC several years back and now I'm a recognized expert in the field. I reduce the impact of back pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic girdle pain, sciatica, diastasis recti, strength loss & more. My specialized on-demand programs start from just $35 & are tailored for maximum support. PLUS for a limited time only I'm offering a no-cost consultation to discuss your parenthood fitness goals!