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two mums working out with their babies in a studio

MAMAHOOD MOVES: HOW TO BE STRONG & READY FOR PREGNANCY & MOTHERHOOD

how to work out and stay fit with a new baby

MAMAHOOD MOVES

Welcome! Hope you guys are all well today? As you’re probably away, at Planet Mama we are big fans for keeping moving whilst pregnant, and helping you find some time for yourself to move when you’re postpartum. 

We know that the government recommends staying active when pregnant and that you gradually build exercise back up postpartum, but we get a lot of questions asking what this actually looks like and what moves should you actually be including. 

So we’re going through the common functional #mamahoodmoves to keep you strong for everything day to day life throws at you.

There are 7 main mama movement patterns:

  1. Squat
  2. Lunge
  3. Hinge
  4. Push
  5. Pull
  6. Balance
  7. Rotation

For each of these moves, we want to think about how they play out in your life, so we can perform functional movements to strengthen you for everyday.

The following diagram from @burrelleducation demonstrates why it’s important to to build in functional exercises to your workout plan:

  1. THE SQUAT

So let’s take a look at the squat. Firstly, what is a squat? A squat is a compound movement that works many muscles in the lower body – your quads, glutes, hamstrings, adductors, abductors, hip flexors, calves. It also works at your core.

Why should you squat during pregnancy? 

They are an excellent exercise to maintain strength and range of motion in the hips, glutes, core & pelvic floor. They can help you maintain a good posture and to keep pain away. Plus, they can assist with birth by preparing the hips and pelvic floor and get you strong to hold up your body for birth. 

Looking at the above ‘Activities in Daily Life’ chart – rising from knees to standing in day to day life as your pregnancy progresses is a squat and lunge. Thinking about birth itself for a moment – a lot of the time we’re squatting, standing, moving, squatting so we want to be familiar AND strong in this position!

Why should you squat when you’re postpartum?

Squatting is a great way to strengthen your body and maybe surprisingly your pelvic floor and core! Everything is linked through the matrix of connective tissue that wraps your body, but particularly the feet and the pelvic floor are linked, as well as the inner thighs and deep core.

You’re definitely going to need to be familiar with that squat position to pick up your baby and all the things they’ve dropped off the floor! It also helps with pelvic floor and core rehab and restore.

  1. THE LUNGE

Lungeing is another great movement to include if you’re pregnant or postnatal to help strengthen the body globally.

Why should you lunge during pregnancy & postpartum? 

Just like with the squat, lunges help to strengthen all of the lower body, helping you carry your growing bump if you’re pregnant. Lunges will also help your body recover after having a baby, enabling you to get back to all the activities you used to do before birth.

Lunges in pregnancy will help with walking and shifting balance from one foot to the other. Then when your little one is here and you’re out and about with the pram this is a lunge and push all in one go!

There are so many different variations, progressions & regressions and these might not be great for everyone, especially if you’re experiencing any Pelvic Girdle Pain, so just listen to your body and get in touch if you have any questions.

  1. THE HINGE

Arguably the most important move,  a move that we do all day lifting babies, and that is the hinge. The most well-known hinge being the deadlift – not just for champion weightlifters, but vital for champion mums too!

Not only does this strengthen your posterior chain – the fancy word for the back of the body – but hinging and lifting properly with good technique will also strengthen your core and pelvic floor.

Think about when you bend down to pick your little one up, to talk to a toddler or to place a sleeping baby in a cot – all hinge movements! So let’s get this move strong and familiar in your nervous system and muscular system now.

Check out these hinge exercise examples:

  1. THE PULL

Let’s chat about the PULL and why this movement pattern is good for you mama’s to be and new mama’s

But firstly, what does a pull movement pattern do?? A pull action strengthens the back of the body and is performed using resistance where you pull a resistance band or weight. 

In pregnancy they strengthen the back of the body, helping to combat the postural changes that occur in pregnancy, particularly the common rounding of the shoulders. This can help prevent and improve back pain.

Then after your baby has arrived, strengthening the back of your body can help you manage and cope with your growing baby! Plus good posture allows for proper core function so can help with your rehabilitation.

  1. THE PUSH

We all know pushing anything (especially a pram!) up a hill isn’t easy so we need to keep those chests strong and make sure we’re breathing properly so we don’t bear down on your good old pelvic floor.

The most well known push exercise is the press up, which is a great move as it works the body globally, however it also puts a lot of pressure on the core so we need to be careful when pregnant or postpartum.

However just because we need to be careful doesn’t mean it should be omitted, think about when you’re kneeling over your baby in a TT or half plank, or pushing yourself up from bed to get up. We’re in these positions, facing down pushing up all the time, so let’s strengthen it in a controlled environment too!

  1. BALANCING

During pregnancy your body proportions are constantly changing, so it’s important to be aware of where your body is in space. This is where balancing comes in. It helps you with your proprioception and to keep your ankles strong to help with the laxity that occurs in the body and in the ankles. For these same reasons it’s important to also include balancing into your postpartum routine.

  1. ROTATION

This move is often avoided in pregnancy as we don’t want to twist through the bump, however it’s so important to keep the thoracic spine mobile. It’s physically been proven to help combat postural changes and back pain, but also good thoracic mobilisation has been equated to good emotional regulation too! Just one fab reason by itself to include rotation into your routine.

Ensure good form and be mindful if you have diastasis in pregnancy or postpartum. If you’re at all concerned, reach out to a professional.

You’ll be twisting and rotating regularly in day to day life; e.g. when you move your baby from the car seat to the pram, or when you lean over in bed to look at the monitor. So let’s practice it and get the form and breathing right so we don’t get into bad habits.

Check out these examples of rotations you can include:

https://vimeo.com/572517092

We hope this breakdown of mamahood moves has been useful. By identifying and building upon these foundational movements that we use everyday, you will be strong, ready and resilient for everything pregnancy and motherhood throws at you! As always, if you’d like any help or support, drop us an email hello@planet-mama.co.uk