You NEED to do squats during pregnancy. See Why!

Squats during pregnancy

Whether you’re pregnant or not one of the most important muscles to strengthen is your pelvic muscles. In a nutshell, this is because your pelvic floor is under all your organs and during pregnancy the extra weight of your baby. Having a strong pelvic floor during delivery helps tremendously with labor and delivery as well as recovery.

One of the main side effects (not just from childbirth) of a weak pelvic floor is urinary incontinence. About one in four women suffer from urinary incontinence, the involuntary loss of urine when sneezing, coughing, or laughing. And even more, have what’s called “urgency incontinence” when the urge to urinate is so strong that you fear you won’t get to the bathroom in time. In order to prevent this kind of urinary problem, you have to develop strong buttocks (glute) muscles and get in touch with your pelvic floor. We always hear how we should practice our Kegels especially while pregnant.

I know this goes against everything we as women have been taught. When in fact Kegels can actually make pelvic floor disorder worse in some cases. The Kegels strengthen the PC (pubococcygeus) muscle, which closes the sphincters of the pelvic floor and stops the flow of urine. Kegels are a step in the right direction. But they don’t address the function of the entire pelvic floor, they strengthen only one muscle. A strong, rigid muscle isn’t necessarily a functional, strong, flexible muscle. Remember TIGHT isn’t necessarily STRONG! You want strong, that’s where the squats come in.

Why squats? Well, squats are the main exercise that builds good strong glutes. The muscles that balance out the anterior pull on the sacrum are the glutes. A lack of glutes, or having no butt, is what makes this group so much more susceptible to pelvic floor disorder (PFD). Zero lumbar curvature, missing the little curve at the small of the back, is the most telling sign that the pelvic floor is beginning to weaken.

Benefits of Squatting during pregnancy


Relief of Lower Back Pain


During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to loosening of ligaments thereby compromising joint integrity. The weight of the baby, in addition to the weight a woman gains during this time, leads to the spine being pulled forward. Squatting strengthens the legs as well as the lower back region alleviating this pain.

Strengthen the Pelvic Floor


The pelvic floor muscles become tight and stiff due to a lack of adequate movement. Squatting can help stretch, relax, and strengthen these perineal muscles. This, in turn, puts the pelvic region in a better position for childbirth.

Maintain Posture and Balance


The center of gravity tends to shift forward during pregnancy especially during the latter months because of excessive weight in the front of the body. This can create risky situations as the woman is prone to falling or tripping over forward. Use squats as a means to counter this by strengthening the posterior group of muscles.

Reduce Constipation


Constipation and other digestion-related problems are common towards the end of pregnancy. This is usually due a combination of hormonal changes and abnormal pressure in the abdominal region. Squats can help relax this area of the body, thereby providing relief from bloating and flatulence.

Better Birthing Posture.

The squat position is ideal to replicate birthing posture. Regular squatting helps to widen the birth canal and stretch the perineal muscles thereby facilitating a smoother and unobstructed descent of the baby.

Stabilize Hormonal Levels


It is common knowledge that strength training can help regulate hormones and lead to an improvement in mood. Compound movements like squats exercise large muscle groups like your legs and glutes and in the process lead to better insulin sensitivity and nutrient absorption.

Aesthetics


Why not preserve that pre-pregnancy body? Squatting is the king of exercise when it comes to developing and maintaining lower body shape and muscle mass. It becomes much easier to look good during and get back to your usual gorgeousness after pregnancy if you are used to a good strength training routine, the cornerstone of which is the squat.

Simple Pregnancy Squat

This very simple squatting exercise for expecting moms is ideal when you’re feeling tired without straining any part of your body:


  • Stand straight with feet apart (about 2 feet), while your toes are facing outwards.
  • Bend your legs down slowly, ensuring that your back is straight without bending forward or sideways.
  • Get up slowly and gradually with your leg muscles working throughout this process, pushing your body upwards.
  • Perform the process five times until you’re comfortable, increasing about 20 reps.
  • For more intense squatting, hold your position between 15 and 30 seconds as you go down.


Pregnancy Squat Do’s and Don’ts


Now that you know why you should be squatting during those crucial months, let me give you some quick tips that will make this safer and more enjoyable for you.

Always ensure correct form while performing the movement, preferably under the guidance of a qualified instructor. There are plenty of variations to choose from – Box Squats, Goblet Squats, TRX Squats, and Sumo Squats to mention a few.

Ensure proper ventilation in your exercise area. Avoid excessively humid areas. Make sure that your hydration is on point.

Any abrupt or unusual pain, especially in the lower abdominal region, should be a sign to stop or change the exercise.

If according to your physician, the baby is not in an ideal position after 30 weeks of gestation, you should avoid squatting.

Needless to say, the squat is a beneficial but challenging movement, which needs the right fuel. Make sure your nutritional needs are being met during the process.

When Not to Squat


While squats are normally an amazing exercise for pregnant mums, there are a few circumstances when you should play it safe and hold off on this exercise.

Avoid squats if you experience any pain in your pelvic region while performing the movement. This could be because your pelvic joints have become more sensitive and more pliable due to the hormonal and biomechanical changes your body undergoes during pregnancy. If this is the case, there is no benefit in pushing through the pain. Instead, consult a physiotherapist that specializes in women’s health. They will be able to diagnose your individual issues and instruct you in the best and safest alternative exercises.

Also, as always, avoid squats or any other exercise if you are experiencing any pain in other areas, or if you have been advised by your doctor to avoid them. It’s always best to be safe and consult your doc before continuing.

Conclusion


Exercising such as squatting is safe even for expecting moms, as long as you don’t feel any pain, otherwise, stop the routine right away. You can also ask your doctor for other recommendations. All in all, the safe squatting exercises explained above provide a wide range of health benefits to pregnant women like increasing the pelvic floor muscle strength, which is crucial for a healthy birth and recovery.

Squatting also prevents pelvic and lower back pains, while promoting strong gluteal muscles to stabilize the pelvis. Moreover, these exercises will help you prepare for labor as well as assist you to cope with early and late contractions, including stronger birth positions, plus a great-looking bottom!
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