These are my recommended TOP 5 Prenatal Exercises for your First Trimester. If you have been attending Pilates classes and become pregnant it is perfectly fine to continue with your regular Pilates class until 18-20 weeks, so long as you feel comfortable. Exercises can be adjusted in a regular class to suit you, but once your bump begins to grow it is recommended that you move to a specifically prenatal class. I am not a physio, these are simply the exercise that i believe are the best, from the experience i have gained while teaching regular and pre natal Pilates. Always get clearance from your GP before you start to exercise and if you become light headed or start to feel unwell stop!

1. Single Leg Stretch – this is a great exercise for strengthening your lower abdominals.. Lying on your back with your feel at tabletop (knees in line with hips, ankles in line with knees). Your lower back is flat. Pull in your tummy muscles as you breath naturally in through your nose out through your mouth. As you exhale, send one leg away from you, reaching away with your toes so your leg straightens out. As you inhale pull the leg back into tabletop. Keep your back flat and concentrate on your tummy.Alternate legs, do 8 all together. If you are used to doing Pilates, do this with your head and shoulders up off your mat, with your hands supporting your head but the other foot is down on your mat, in this position repeat 5 on one leg and then change legs.

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2.Spine Stretch– this is an articulation through your spine, so excellent to keep the movement in your spine and also stretch the back of your legs and into your butt.  . Sitting on the floor, legs out straight, little wider than hip width apart, sit as upright as you can, as if your back is flat against a wall. Tummy pulled in. If you struggle to sit upright, sit on the edge of a towel or a pillow or have a slight bend in your knees. Arms are in first position, so as if you are hugging a tree, they don’t meet in the center, as you exhale, slowly articulate forward through your spine, so leading with the crown of your head. Try and visualize one part of your spine at a time leading forward, keeping your tummy muscles scooped in. As you inhale, slowly articulate back up leading this time with your lower spine stacking one at a time on top of each other with your shoulders and then your head last to stack back up on top, to finish in your sitting position. Repeat 6 times.  

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3. Plank – this is great for working your core abdominal muscles, your lower back, butt and arms. Starting in Quadricep position, on hands and knees, hands under shoulder and knees under hips, hip width apart. Your back should be straight from shoulders to hips, and focus on your tummy muscles so keep them pulled in. As you exhale, slowly take your knees an inch off your mat, focusing on your tummy staying tight. hold this position for one inhale and exhale and then slowly lower on your next inhale. As you become more efficient at this exercise you can hold for longer.

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4. Press-ups, great for keeping our arms toned! start again in Quadricep position as explained above but this time take your hands out wider than your shoulders. Again keep your tummy pulled in, as you inhale slowly lower your nose to the floor while bending your elbows out to the side, don’t worry how low you can drop keep focusing on those elbows bending out, exhale as you push up repeat 10 times. To focus on your triceps, take your hands in closer than shoulder width apart and as you lower make sure your elbows don’t stretch out to the side, keep them pulled in towards your ribs, try and get your chin over your hands and exhale as you push up. These are much harder but practice makes perfect!

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Slightly harder:

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5Swimming – this is an excellent exercise for strengthening your back, and shoulders and again working those core muscles. Lying on your tummy, arms and legs stretched out along the floor. Focus on your core muscles so  holding your tummy in, as you exhale, raise your right arm and left leg an inch off the floor stretching as far as you can, inhale to lower down, exhale as you lift your left arm and right leg off the floor and inhale to lower. this should be a smooth movement so if you have a glass sitting on your lower back there is no rocking from side to side. If you are efficient at this exercise you take it further and swim. So your two arms and legs are both off the floor at the same time and slowly move them up and down, inhale for a count of 5 and exhale for exhale for a count of 5. repeat this movement 6 times.

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I would love to get your feedback as to which exercise you enjoy the most or which ones you may find tough at this stage in your pregnancy!