During pregnancy, you still want to make sure your core is strengthening. Using an exercise ball may help relieve pressure on your lower back and pelvis during exercise.
Ready to give it a try? If your doctor allows you to exercise during pregnancy, here are 9 exercises to start.
1. Wall squat
Place an exercise ball between your lower back and a solid wall or stable surface.
With feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, knees bent, and using the ball as support, slowly lower yourself into a squat position.
Push back to standing position and repeat.
2. Abdominal crunch
While we don't recommend performing standard crunches while lying on your back, Manman suggests instead: Sit on an exercise ball and step your feet forward so they're just in front of your knees.
Continue taking small steps until your lower back touches the ball. Your feet should remain flat on the ground, your knees should be bent, and your body should be tilted so that your hips are lower than your shoulders.
Put your hands behind your head, contract your abs toward your spine, and lift your head, arms, and shoulders up and forward.
Make sure the ball is on a non-slip surface, or against a wall, to keep it from slipping under you -- stop if you feel any discomfort.
3. Pelvic floor exercises
Sit on the ball, keeping your spine straight. Contract the pelvic muscles as if to stop the flow of urine. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat.
"Never hold your breath! Manman said.
4. Prom March
Sit on the ball with your feet firmly on the floor. Slowly lift one knee, without letting the ball or hips move, as you exhale and draw the navel toward the spine.
Slowly bring the foot back to the original position and repeat on the other side. Keep alternating sides for 10 repetitions. (Don't forget to breathe!)
"If it's too hard, you can lift your heels and keep your toes on the ground," says Stephanie Stamas, DPT, pelvic health specialist and online pregnancy and postpartum Co-founder of rehabilitation program Chelsea Method.
5. Ball Bridge
"Labour requires a lot of hip and glute strength, so it's important to train those muscles! says Stamas. (The move may be too challenging or uncomfortable later in pregnancy, she suggests.)
Start by sitting on the floor with your upper back resting on the ball. Push up through your feet and lift your hips off the floor toward the ceiling, as high as you can without arching your back.
Hold for three seconds, then lower slowly.
Repeat 10 times.
6. Kneeling ball rolls out
Start in a high kneeling position with your hands on the ball. Keeping your back straight, roll the ball forward until you can feel your core engaging. Hold for three seconds, then roll the ball back into place.
"As long as your abs are stable and not bulging, you're good to go," says Stamas.
Repeat 10 times, and be sure to breathe continuously throughout the exercise.
7. Back and Upper Body Stretch
"The chest and belly often get really tight during pregnancy, so this is a great stretch! says Stamas. Kneel on the floor, lean your hips forward, and place your arms on the ball.
Gently rock the ball to one side until you feel a stretch. Hold here while breathing into the other side of your chest for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Sit on a ball with your feet planted firmly on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart. Move your hips in a circular motion, using the ball to "draw" small circles on the floor.
Repeat 10 times clockwise, then counterclockwise.
9. Figure 8
Sit on a ball with your feet planted firmly on the floor, slightly wider than hip-width apart. Move your hips as if you were drawing a number 8 on the ball. This move is great for opening up the pelvis.