Strengthening exercises to do in pregnancy

Staying strong in pregnancy is important, but how appealing is a workout when you feel like you're carrying around a medicine ball? These exercises can help strengthen muscles and ease back pain - and you can do them all in the privacy of your own home

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NB: Perform the following exercises slowly and with control. Breathe out during the exercise and breathe in as you relax. Hold each exercise for up to 10 seconds and try to repeat them 10 times. 

Pelvic tilt - to tone abdominal muscles and help relieve back ache

pelvic tilt exercise

Start by lying on your back with your knees bent up and feet placed on the ground. 

Breathe out as you pull in your stomach muscles. 

Feel your lower back flatten onto the ground. 

Now try to flatten the lower part of your spine, closing the gap between your back and the floor.  

Try to keep your buttocks relaxed so you can really use your tummy muscles in isolation. 

Once you have learnt how to perform pelvic tilt exercises properly, you can do them on your hands and knees, sitting down, or standing. 

Wall squats - for thigh, buttock and abdominal muscles

wall squats exercise

Stand about 30 to 60 centimetres away from a wall, with your heels pointing back to it. 

Press your head, shoulders and back into the wall and squat as if you were going to sit down.

Try to lower yourself down until your knees approach a 90-degree angle. 

Hold the squat for about 10 seconds and then stand back up slowly, keeping your back and buttocks in contact with the wall. 

Arm and leg raises - for the spinal and buttock muscles

arm leg raises

Kneel on your hands and knees and try to keep your spine and pelvis steady by performing a pelvic tilt. 

Lift your left arm and right leg to the level of your back or as far as is comfortable. 

Try and hold this position for up to 10 seconds and then slowly lower back down. 

Repeat this exercise lifting the opposite arm and leg. 

If you are struggling with balance, try raising the leg or arm separately. 

Kegels - for pelvic floor muscles

pregnancy exercise

Pelvic floor exercises are particularly important during pregnancy and after the birth of your baby, regardless of the type of delivery you have. In the long term, toning up the muscles may prevent stress incontinence (leaking of urine when coughing, sneezing and laughing). It can also help safeguard against prolapse - and may improve your sex life. 

To do these exercises, squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles by closing and drawing up the front and back passages. Imagine you are trying to stop yourself passing wind at the same time as trying to stop your flow of urine. 

There are two types of exercises, slow and fast:

Slow contractions - squeeze and lift

Hold for as long as you can, but no longer than 10 seconds. Release slowly and rest for five seconds between each squeeze and lift.

Repeat 5-10 times, 3-5 times a day. 

Fast contractions 

Follow the slow contractions with up to 10 quick, powerful contractions. This will help your muscles react quickly when you laugh, cough, sneeze or exercise. 


Many women don't know if they are doing kegel exercises correctly - this is where Elvie can be useful. Elvie is a pelvic floor exercise tracker and app that visualises, guides and corrects your pelvic floor workouts. Track your progress, compete with yourself and see improvements in real time. Find out more

NB: If you are experiencing back pain during pregnancy, consult an osteopath or health care professional before starting a new exercise regime. 

This content was provided by Osteopath and Midwife, Isabel Diaz.

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Last updated: 3 months ago