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The 3 Most Important Third Trimester Exercises

Heading into the home stretch of pregnancy? It's still important to keep moving! Find out how to do three pregnancy-safe exercises crucial to the third trimester.
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By Micky Marie Morrison, PT, ICPFE, Contributing Writer
Updated August 6, 2020
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Even though you may not feel like doing much at all as your belly grows week after week, it’s important to keep moving throughout pregnancy, including in the awkward and uncomfortable last weeks. Third trimester exercises are some of the most important, helping to alleviate aches and pains while also prepping your body for labor. These exercises will open up the hips and pelvis, strengthening the muscles you’ll be using during childbirth.

1. Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor supports the internal organs, including the uterus, which—you guessed it—houses a big baby in the third trimester! The pelvic floor muscles become overstretched and weakened underneath that weight, so it’s important to do pelvic floor exercises (Kegels) to maintain muscle tone. This will help prevent the embarrassing leaking when you laugh or sneeze due to stress urinary incontinence, a condition common in late pregnancy that can persist after baby comes (yikes!).

2. Squats

The full squat is a passive position that allows gravity to open the pelvis, causing the pelvic floor muscles to engage. Use a prop if you need to, placing a rolled-up towel or yoga mat under your heels if they don’t reach the ground. If you have pain in the pubic symphysis—the spot in front of the lower middle pelvis area where the pubic bones meet—you’ll want to skip this exercise. Otherwise, try to start with 30 seconds at a time in this position and work your way up to two full minutes, five or six times a day. For a great pelvic floor workout, try to do those Kegel exercises in this position too.

3. Gentle Abs

That’s right; you can do abdominal exercise in the late stages of pregnancy, as long as they’re gentle exercises that don’t over-strain the abdominal muscles. A basic pelvic tilt is a great place to start and is safe at all stages. For more of a challenge, you can add movement to the pelvic tilt by incorporating knee lifts and toe taps. To avoid separating abdominal muscles further, check for diastasis recti before attempting these more advanced movements.

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Micky Marie Morrison is a licensed physical therapist with 15 years experience in women’s health and pediatrics. She is an International Childbirth Education Association certified perinatal fitness educator, founder of the prenatal and postpartum exercise program CoreMama and online resource BabyWeight.TV, author of Baby Weight: The Complete Guide to Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness a mother of two.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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