8 Prenatal Pilates Moves You Should Do Every Day

Add these moves into your pregnancy workouts for added health benefits and an easier labor and recovery.

February 14, 2017
Side Plank
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com

Adding regular movement and exercise into your schedule when you're pregnant can help your body adjust to changes both during and after pregnancy.

More: 6 Myths About Exercising During Pregnancy

"One of the most highly recommended forms of fitness when you're expecting is Pilates, and that's no surprise since it is famous for it's elongation and lengthening of the muscles," says Andrea Speir, founder of Speir Pilates. "When you're pregnant, that growing weight of your cute baby bump begins to put a lot of undue pressure on the joints and muscles, and inhibits circulation. By incorporating Pilates exercises into your daily routine, you can build that great strength in all the little intricate muscles as well as the larger muscles to help keep your body strong throughout pregnancy and get you ready for labor and postpartum recovery. 

"You don't need a fancy boutique studio to get this great work in, just 15 minutes a day and a mat or soft surface," she adds. 

Start with these 7 prenatal Pilates moves from Speir that'll help keep you lean and strong throughout your pregnancy:

Standing Squats Front
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 1: Standing Squats Front

Reps: ​10 times per leg

Do it:
1. Begin standing with feet together and hands on hips.

2. Step forward into deep lunge with one foot.

3. Step back together.

4. Repeat with other leg forward.

5. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Focus: Focus on gentling hugging your baby with your abdominals to find balance and gentle core engagement.

Why: As we lunge, we allow the pelvic region to open slightly, then we engage that muscle to activate back—this action is preparing the strength in our bodies for labor. Different angles on the lunges target slightly different zones in the pelvic region to build the most dynamic strength.

Standing Squats Side
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 2: Standing Squats Side

Reps: 10 times per leg

Do it:
1. Begin standing with feet together.

2. Lunge to one side (bending leg of stepping leg and keeping stable leg straight).

3. Step feet back together in center.

Focus: As you lunge, send hips back to keep weight in heels, not knees. As you step feet back together, activate glutes and gently hug baby with core muscles.

Why: Similar to the lunges facing the front, as you lunge to the side the pelvic region opens slightly and then activates as you step back together. This targets a slightly different angle than the lunges forward, giving you a more rounded and dynamic strength in the pelvic region.

Half Roll Down
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 3: Half Roll Down

Reps: 1 set, 8 times

Do it:
1. Sit with knees bent and feet flat and hip distance apart on mat.

2. Hold on behind your thighs and gently round the spine.

3. Lower toward straight arms.

4. Think about hugging baby gently with core muscles.

5. Bend elbows and round back back up.

Focus: Make sure your tailbone is curled under throughout the exercise and shoulders are draw down back and not rounding or scrunching forward.

Why: This is a fantastic way to strengthen the transverse and rectus abdominals safely and without "whipping" or overly exerting this overly stretched area.

Single Leg Diamond Raise
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 4: Single Leg Diamond Raise

Reps: 8 times per leg

Do it:
1. Prop body up on forearms with knees bent and feet flat.

2. Lift legs up to a 60-degree angle with heels together and knees apart.

3. Lower one leg toward floor.

4. Repeat 8 times.

5. Reverse on other leg.

Focus: Only lower your leg as low as you can without your back arching or your belly straining to hold and lift it back up. Think about gently hugging your baby with your core muscles and keep chest open.

Why: The single leg work on this exercise targets the major part of the core, while also involving the obliques (which wrap around the side of the core and are very important during labor), while keeping all the movement safe and controlled.

Side Plank
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 5: Side Plank

Reps: 30 seconds per side

Do it:
1. Lie on one side.

2. Lift hips toward sky and hold for 30 seconds.

3. Switch sides and repeat.

Focus: Think about lifting ribs actively up throughout the exercise to keep the obliques actively engaged and strengthening throughout.

Why: The obliques are key in pushing during labor, so safely strengthening them is a very important part of your pregnancy workout regiment.

Side Leg Kicks
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 6: Side Leg Kicks

Reps: 20 times per leg

Do it:
1. Lie on one side with head resting in hand and legs stacked one on top of the other and slightly angled in front of body.

2. Lift top leg up toward the sky.

3. Lower leg back down.

4. Repeat 20 times, then switch sides.

Focus: Keep hips perfectly stacked and only kick as high as you can without rocking and rolling those hips. Let your baby bump rest in front of you and lean into the support of your stable hand. If you want more support for you bump, place a pillow under your belly.

Why: This move strengthens the outer hip and glute. These muscles are important to focus on because they help support the hips, pelvis and lower back with need some extra strength to hold the weight of your growing baby. As the hips separate, you want to lessen how much inner thigh work you do since those muscles are stretched and thinned, so the outer muscles are that much more important to balance your body.

dancing clamshell
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 7: Dancing Clamshell

Reps: 20 times per side

Do it:
1. Lie on side propped up on your forearm with other hand on mat for balance.

2. Bend knees in toward chest and rock toes up toward sky.

3. Open top knee up toward sky.

4. Extend leg toward sky.

5. Bend knee back in.

6. Lower knee down.

7. Repeat 20 times then switch sides.

Focus: Lean in toward stable hand and keep hips stacked. Activate side of the glute as you work through this exercise- think about making it muscular and visualize which part of your body is working as you move through.

Why: This move not only strengthens the outer hip and glute, but it also gets the blood and circulation flowing through your lower body which is key as circulation is somewhat compromised with the baby bump blocking a bit of natural flow. This move will not only strengthen the lower body, but also help prevent cramping at night and improve the overall health of the body.

kneeling pushups
Elizabeth Zuluaga / www.elizabethzuluaga.com
Move 8: Kneeling Push-Ups

Reps: 15 times

Do it:
1. Set up on your hands and knees.

2. Rock toes up toward sky and shift weight forward toward hands.

3. Bend elbows and lower body toward mat.

4. Push back up.

Focus: Keep elbows tightly bent in toward sides. Keep tailbone curled slightly under and think about hugging your baby with your core muscles.

Why: This is a great way to keep your upper body and back strong and ready to hold your sweet baby soon, as well as lift and carry all that baby gear! This is also a stable and controlled way to continue to work the core muscles without putting any exertion or strain on the overly on your abdominals.

See Next