One common question that I get asked a lot from pregnant women is whether it’s safe to do squats during pregnancy. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the benefits, considerations, and precautions associated with incorporating squats into your pregnancy exercise routine.
Benefits of squats during pregnancy
- Strength and endurance: Squats are a fantastic way to build and maintain lower body strength, essential for the physical demands of pregnancy and labour.
- Pelvic floor activation: Proper squatting technique engages the pelvic floor muscles, promoting better control and support for the increasing weight of the baby.
- Improved posture: As the body undergoes changes, squats can help alleviate back pain and contribute to better posture by strengthening the core and lower back muscles.
Considerations and precautions
- Consultation with your midwife or consultant: As always if you have any medical conditions that affect whether you should be exercising during pregnancy, speak to your midwife or consultant.
- Correct form is key: Executing squats with proper form is essential to avoid unnecessary strain on the lower back and knees. Ensure your knees are aligned with your toes, and don’t go too deep into the squat to prevent overstretching.
Modifications for pregnancy
- Widen your stance: Adopt a wider stance to accommodate your growing belly and maintain balance.
- Use support if needed: Holding onto a stable surface, like a chair or countertop, can provide additional support and help with balance later on in pregnancy.
- Only go as far a feels comfortable: As your pregnancy progresses you can start doing half squats instead of full squats.
- Listen to your body: Pay attention to how your body responds during and after squats. If you experience any discomfort, dizziness, or shortness of breath, stop and consult your midwife or consultant.
This list starts with harder variations suitable for your first trimester and they gradually get easier as your progress down the list where they are more suitable for the third trimester. There are no strict rules as to when you should switch to easier squat variations but as always just make sure you listen to your body and adapt as necessary.
- Squats with resistance band: Incorporating a resistance band into squats adds a gentle challenge, promoting muscle tone and strength in the legs and hips without placing excessive strain on the joints.
- Full squats: Performing a full squat during pregnancy engages the entire lower body and helps maintain hip flexibility, supporting the natural birthing position.
- Squat kicks: Squat kicks involve adding a dynamic kick motion during the squat, contributing to improved flexibility, balance, and leg strength during pregnancy while promoting a range of motion in the hips and thighs.
- Squat and place: Squat and places enhance flexibility and works the upper body as well as the lower body, contributing to improved posture and alleviating tension in the back during pregnancy.
- 66 squat: 66 squats involve slowly getting into a squat position for a count of 6 seconds and then slowly returning to standing for a count of 6 seconds. They promote core stability and balance which are important for pregnancy.
- Squat walks: Squat walks help strengthen the inner and outer thigh muscles, aiding in pelvic stability and preparing the body for the physical demands of labour and childbirth.
- Squat with punches: Incorporating punches into squats adds an upper body element, helping maintain overall muscle tone and cardiovascular health during pregnancy while promoting coordination and balance.
- Half squats: The half squat is a modified version that eases pressure on the lower back while still targeting the thighs and buttocks, making it suitable for varying stages of pregnancy.
- Wall squats: Leaning against a wall while squatting provides extra stability for later stages of pregnancy while still strengthening the lower body.
In conclusion, squats can be a safe and beneficial exercise during pregnancy when done properly. Remember that every pregnancy is different, so in order to ensure you don’t overexert yourself it’s essential to listen to your body throughout.