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Pregnancy Exercises

Pelvic Tilt

Get down on your hands and knees, putting your hands shoulder-width apart. Your hips and shoulders should be at a 90-degree angle. Tuck your pelvis under by tightening your buttocks and arching your lower back toward the ceiling. Then relax your pelvis so that your back is flat and level. Never let your lower back hyperextend or sag toward the floor. Inhale while you’re relaxing, and exhale while you’re tilting your pelvis.

You can also do a pelvic tilt when you’re standing up. Start with your shoulders against the wall, your feet shoulder-width apart, and your hips and knees slightly bent. Press the small of your lower back against the wall by tightening your abdominal muscles, buttocks, and thigh muscles. Practice this exercise, either standing, or on your hands and knees, 10 to 20 times a day.

Benefits: This exercise tones your abdominal muscles, stretches and strengthens your lower back muscles, and can help to relieve backaches.

Head Rolls

Stand with your feet comfortably apart and your hands at your sides, or you can sit cross-legged on the floor with your back straight. Slowly move your head in a half-circle motion first to the right and then to the left. Do not roll your head backward or hyperextend your neck. Practice 10 times daily.

Benefits: This exercise helps to tone and release tension in your neck and shoulders.

Shoulder Rolls

Stand with your feet slightly apart and with your back relaxed, or sit cross-legged on the floor with your back straight. Sit slightly forward rather than rolled back on your tailbone. Slowly raise your shoulders to ear level and then roll them forward. Lower your shoulders and push back. Return to the starting position. Repeat in the opposite direction. Practice 10 times daily — both forward and backward.

Benefits: This exercise relaxes your shoulders and upper back muscles, improves posture, and may help reduce upper back pain or strain due to increased breast size.

Abdominal Side Flexions

Sitting or standing with your knees gently flexed, slowly bend at midline toward the right. Resume an upright position and then repeat toward the left. Practice five times daily in each direction.

Benefits: This exercise tones your abdominal obliques and side flexors, stretches your lower back, and helps to keep your spine flexible.

Arm Circles

Stand, or sit cross-legged on the floor, with your back straight. Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Slowly rotate arms forward in small circles gradually increasing into larger circles. Repeat in a backward direction. Practice at least 10 to 15 arm circles in each direction daily.

Benefits: This exercise relaxes your shoulders and upper back.

Waist Turns

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, pelvis tucked under, and arms held up with elbows slightly bent. Turn slowly to the right side, pause, and then turn slowly to the left side and pause. Return to the front. Practice 10 times daily.

Benefits: This exercise increases flexibility of your waist and spine and helps tone abdominal muscles.

Back Stretches

Standing or sitting, alternate arms stretching to the ceiling while inhaling and lowering arms while exhaling. Progress to bending sideways at midline, while your arms are raised. Practice 10 times daily with each arm.

Benefits: This exercise stretches your upper back, increases deep breathing, and tones your abdominal side flexors.

Breast Support

In a sitting position with your arms bent at shoulder height, press your hands together for a count of four, and then slowly release. Repeat five to 10 times daily.

Benefits: This exercise tones your pectoral muscles to help support your breasts.


Slowly tighten the pelvic muscles surrounding your vagina, urethra, and anus. If you’re not sure that you’re tightening the right area, pretend you need to stop your stream of urine. These are the muscles exercised during kegels. Hold for a count of five and slowly release. Repeat slowly, paying close attention to tension and release. Practice regularly every day, 50 to 100 times. Remember, kegels can be done anywhere, in any position. In fact, a natural time to do these exercises is while you are urinating.

An alternative method for performing kegels is called the “super kegel.” Tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 10 instead of five. Pay close attention to the tensed muscle group. As you feel the muscles start to release, which they do automatically, consciously tighten them again and continue to hold for the full count of 10. This exercise should be done 10 times per day.

Benefits: There are several benefits of kegels, including the toning and strengthening of your pelvic muscles, increased awareness for labor and pushing, reduced swelling and hemorrhoids, and even a faster recovery after you give birth.

Calf And Heel Cord Stretches

Stand with one foot forward and the other foot back. Lean forward by bending your front knee so that the knee is directly over your foot. The heels of both feet should be flat on the floor. The distance that your feet are apart determines the amount of stretch placed on the heel cord. Maintain a distance so that the stretch feels comfortably tight. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other foot forward. Practice at least once daily and be careful to maintain your balance.

Benefits: This exercise increases the flexibility of your calf muscles and heel cords and will help to prevent leg cramps.


Stand with your feet comfortably apart and with your body erect. Hold onto a chair for support. Tilt your pelvis and slowly bend your knees, keeping your back straight and your heels flat. Lower your body only as far as you comfortably can, and then slowly rise. Begin by repeating four times and then slowly add more repetitions each time you exercise, until you reach 12 repetitions.

Benefits: This exercise will strengthen your quadriceps, reduce the need to use your lower back muscles while lifting, and increase the flexibility of your thighs, which you’ll need during delivery.

Tailor Press

Sit on the floor with your feet crossed in front of you, your knees bent out to the sides, and your back straight. Place your hands on your knees and lean forward with your chest. Hold your chin up and your back straight. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Let the knees fall to the floor. Do not bounce! Practice at least once daily.

Benefits: This exercise strengthens and stretches your inner thighs, and relieves hip tension and lower-back distress.

Leg Lifts

Lay on your side with your bottom leg bent and your top leg straight. Bend the upper leg toward your chest, with toes and ankles relaxed. Straighten your knee, flex your foot, and return to the starting position. Never point your toes. Practice five times a day with each leg.

Benefits: This exercise tones your hips, knees, and ankles, and improves your circulation.

Ankle Rotations

Sitting with your legs straight, rotate your feet at the ankles in one direction four times; then repeat in the opposite direction. Gravity will help reduce swelling if you raise your feet a little above your knees. Practice five times both directions with each ankle daily.

Benefits: This exercise will improve your circulation and help to reduce swelling.

Finger Flexion/Extension

With your elbows on the table and your hands raised, alternately make a fist and stretch fingers. Open and close your fingers, and rotate your hands at the wrists. Practice this several times daily.

Benefits: This exercise helps to reduce finger swelling and discomfort.