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.
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 are overstretched and weakened underneath that weight so it is 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 late in pregnancy that can persist after baby comes (yikes!). If you are not sure how to do a pelvic floor exercise, check out this video.
The full squat position 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.
That’s right; you can do abdominal exercise in the late stages of pregnancy, as long as they are 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.
Watch this video to see demonstrations of each of these exercises. You'll learn the proper form and modifications you can do to get the most from your third trimester workouts!