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3 Essential physical movements to practice during pregnancy

PREGNANT
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These 3 activities will help speed up your recovery from childbirth — and get you ready for motherhood.

During pregnancy, newly expecting mothers are inundated with exercises to do to prepare us for the greatest athletic event of our lives — childbirth. While childbirth is indeed incredibly demanding, and requires preparation, focusing on labor alone leaves out the many years of motherhood to come, years that are physically demanding in new and different ways.

So here are 3 essential moves that will help prepare your body for the years to come. Each will help you to get stronger — and recover from birth at the same time!

1
Picking things up

We pick things up all day long … and most of us are doing it wrong every. single. time.

When we bend over to pick something up, we tend to keep our legs straight and curve our backs into an upside-down U shape. This puts our backs in an incredibly compromised position, straining the muscles and damaging the delicate connective tissue between the vertebrae. A lifetime of lifting things like this often leads to back injuries and slipped discs — sometimes so severe that even surgery can’t fix it.

Because you’ll be picking your baby up approximately 70,000 times a day in the near future, this is a pretty critical skill to master. Stand next to a mirror and put a piece of paper between your feet. Plant your feet about shoulder width apart, slightly bend your knees, then hinge — pushing your hips backward while lowering your chest and reaching towards the ground to pick up the paper. Don’t round your back! Keep your core tight, back flat, and knees in line with your ankles.

Now look at your reflection and check your form in the mirror. Fix anything that is out of alignment, stand up, and do it again. Keep practicing until you can do it perfectly each time. Then swap the paper out for light objects like detergent bottles. When you’re confident in your ability to pick things up properly from the ground, begin this whole process over – but this time, pick up that paper from inside the baby crib. By the time that crib is occupied, you’ll be picking up and putting down your little one smoothly, safely, and hopefully without waking them up!

2
Getting up from a chair

I know what you’re thinking – I get up from a chair every day! It’s not exactly rocket science! And you’re right. But what you don’t do is get up from a chair every day while holding a newborn in both arms. In fact, if you pay a little attention, you might realize that you tend to use one or both arms to assist you when you get up from a chair. This isn’t laziness, it’s actually your brain allocating your body’s energy resources as efficiently as possible – but that option will be gone once your little one arrives.

So start practicing this now. Every time you go to stand up from a chair, fold your arms across your chest first. Then stand up and sit back down five times. Gradually increase those reps by five per week, and then begin practicing while holding objects like kitchen pans or bags of rice. You’ll soon find this motion both natural and effortless — exactly how you want it to be!

3
Getting up from the ground

Getting up from the ground, on the other hand, isn’t so easy – especially since we’re so used to sitting in chairs. But getting up from the ground with a baby in your hands is a much bigger challenge — and because the stakes are so high, you need to practice this before the baby is actually in your arms.

The best way to start practicing is from a kneeling position. Make sure you cross your arms over your chest, keeping your shoulders back and your back straight and tall. Bring one leg in front of you in a half-kneeling position, then stand all the way up. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, start from the ground with both legs straight out in front of you. The most important thing to avoid here is bending forward at the waist, because remember – you’ll have a baby in those arms soon!

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