One thing clients are often surprised about is that they can and should be working their core muscles during pregnancy. As Tamsin talked about in her blog, most people are not really sure what their core muscles are or how to properly engage them. Many think they are your abdominals (the “six pack muscle”) and whilst women may be aware in pregnancy that exercises such as crunches and sit ups are not suitable (Correct!), they are unaware that there are some essential core exercises you should be doing.
Magic Disappearing Bump Trick
An effective and safe core exercise to do in pregnancy is called “hugging the baby in” and the great thing about this simple exercise is you can do it standing, sitting (on the ball is good but on a chair fine) or on all fours. You just fit this in around your day and practice it whenever you have some spare time. It’s also a great “party trick” as you can amaze your other half/friends as you hug your baby in and make your bump disappear a little! This exercise is also safe for all 3 trimesters and can be done postnatally (even after a c section).
PLEASE NOTE – THIS DOES NOT HURT YOUR BABY IN ANYWAY!!
Hugging the baby in (engaging your pregnancy core) promotes good posture during pregnancy by strengthening the deep core muscles, the TVA and pelvic floor, which helps support the weight of your growing baby.
By learning to ‘HUG THE BABY,’ you are strengthening your TVA and pelvic floor which in turn:
- Decreases susceptibility to Diastasis Recti
- Prevents and alleviates lower back pain
- Promotes good posture
- Help with pushing the baby out during delivery
- Postnatally it helps your tummy return back to its pre pregnancy state quicker
How to Hug the Baby and Release the Baby
- Stand up tall, lengthening the spine to the ceiling, like you have a string on the top of your head.
- Inhale deeply, allowing the air to fill down the sides and back of the ribs, (Lateral Thoracic Breathing).
- EXHALE as you gently lift up on the pelvic floor and you hug your baby (pulling baby or tummy in towards the spine activating the TVA). Keep the pelvis neutral (don’t tuck your bottom under).
- Feel equal weight on your feet pressing down into the floor and keep the shoulders relaxed and down away from the ears.
- INHALE as you relax the TVA and pelvic floor, releasing the Hug the Baby posture.
The ability to completely relax the TVA and pelvic floor allows for flexible, strong muscles rather than tight, inflexible muscles, and it is very important to remember to relax completely on the inhale.
In the video I am hugging the baby in on all fours. Mare sure your hands are directly under your shoulders (and shoulder width apart) and that your knees are directly under your hips and hip width apart. You spine should be in “neutral” position, which a flat back and un-tucked bottom.
During my third pregnancy I followed Mama in the Move’s Fitness and Pilates programmes, which include lots of safe deep core exercises and I can honestly say it was my easiest pregnancy and I had no back pain at all. I was also able to activate my deep core muscles much earlier postnatally because I had been working them throughout my pregnancy.