Pregnancy is a time to stay healthy and fit. Exercising is the best way to keep fit and pregnancy is no exception. Since the expectant mother is carrying, the only thing she should remember is to go slow, not do cardio or exert too much. It is also said that when the mother exercises, the baby feels better too. However, a lot of people are not clear what type of exercises should be done at this time. Some are scared while others not sure, but as recommended by medical experts, the ideal workout at this time is; squats. Doing squats during pregnancy provides strength to the lower part of the body and helps to keep it toned along with pumping the heart rate. It is a good choice to make squats a part of the weekly schedule as it has its own set of advantages for the mother as well as the baby. Apart from that it even makes the process of labor and birthing smoother.
Let us now study and find out how safe is it to squats during pregnancy, its advantages, the types of squats that can be performed during pregnancy, how does squats get affected by the physical changes that take place in the body, important points that should be followed, the time when one should not do squats, if it helps to induce labor etc. Going through these points will give us a better insight into the same.
Is It Safe To Do Squats During Pregnancy?
Squats is believed to be the safest and the ideal exercises that keeps one healthy, the only thing one must remember is to do it in moderation. Overdoing or getting into too heavy workouts can drain the energy of the expectant mother, which is not a good sign as that can lead to tiredness, irritation, etc. Being active is very important as the body keeps getting the required fuel.
Before starting squats or before planning any fitness regime, it is highly recommended to consult the doctor, so that he can assess your condition and give a go-ahead. Squats ensure to strengthen the lower body and even enable proper movement of the core and pelvic muscles, the hips, etc. Not only that, the squats are excellent as it helps to open the pelvis muscles that is a great help during the process of normal delivery.
Benefits of Squatting During Pregnancy
Squats are the ideal choice to be done during the pregnancy phase if given a go-ahead by the doctor. These are good not only for the mother but also for the child. Let us see how it benefits the mother-child duo in brief. Some pointers for its benefits are:
- Doing squats help in strengthening the glute muscles.
- The lower back pain is quite common in pregnancy and doing squats during pregnancy helps to relieve from this pain that happens due to loosening of ligaments.
- Squatting helps to smoothen the functioning of the digestive system and even alleviate the issues of bloating, thus leading to the prevention of constipation.
- Squatting helps in bearing with the contractions that happen during labor as it helps to expand the birthing passage, letting the baby come out easily.
- It even relaxes the perineal muscles.
- If squatting is done in the last trimester, it strengthens the leg muscles, that helps to push the baby easily.
- The center of gravity that shifts during pregnancy can be maintained if squatting is practiced.
- Squatting is the best way to get rid of all pains and uneasiness, thereby keeping the expectant mother fit.
Squats You Can Perform During Pregnancy
After knowing the benefits of squats, one also needs to know the different kinds of squatting exercises that are safe to be done during the pregnancy phase. Given below are the types of squatting postures, but it is a good choice to consult with the doctor before starting them.
As indicative of the name, this is done simply without any equipment. They prevent or help in reducing all types of pain and uneasiness in the lower back portion of the body.
- One needs to stand with feet- shoulder at a width apart and turn the feet in an outward direction for maintaining the balance.
- Put both arms in the front with palms together.
- Now bend the legs in a deep squatting manner.
- Keep the palms open and press the knees with both hands to make space for the tummy.
- Bend towards the front side, keeping the balance intact.
- Hold in this position until comfortable.
This helps to strengthen the thigh muscles and even opening the hips.
- Stand straight by keeping the feet wider than the shoulder, toes pointing out, and knees in sync with toes.
- Lower the body in squatting position if comfortable.
- Knees should not concede in each other.
- Get back to the normal position by squeezing the glutes.
- Repeat this till 10-15 times.
This type is good for strengthening of glutes and keeping the bottom in shape.
- One needs to stand straight with feet and shoulder separate.
- Taking dumbbells in hands, one needs to stretch in front for maintaining balance.
- Lower int a squat position if comfortable ensuring that the back is straight, knees behind or in sync with toes.
- Get back to the original posture and repeat this 10-15 times.
This type helps to strengthen the core muscles and enhance flexibility as well.
- Keep the barbell in front of the shoulder, elbows in an outward direction.
- Bend the knees forward so that the hip can bend backward.
- Go down as if parallel to the ground level.
- Get back to the original position and repeat the same.
5.Box set-up squat:
This type of squat helps in strengthening the lower back, and quads.
- As indicative of the name, a box needs to be put firmly on the floor.
- Now place the foot from the first leg on the box.
- Stretch and extend the knee of right or left leg, whichever you wish to start with to be able to stand on the box.
- Now place the second as per your choice, left or right.
- Go down with the help of your second leg and get back to normal position by placing the foot of your first leg.
- Repeat the same with others as well.
6.Deep Squat with Pelvic Floor Contraction:
Doing this type of squat helps to support the bladder, uterus as well as the other organs. Muscles tend to become weak with passing time in pregnancy so to keep them active, squatting is a good choice as it enables the process of smooth delivery.
- One needs to stand in front of a wall with feet as wide as in sumo squat pose.
- Bend the body without stretching much.
- Keep arms in front of you or maintain the balance by holding the wall.
- Stand facing a wall with your feet in a wide sumo squat position.
- Once in this position, Kegel exercises need to be performed where the pelvic muscles must be stopped in a manner that you stop the urge to urinate, this process strengthens the muscles of this area, making labor and delivery smooth.
- Hold the posture for a few seconds and get back to the original position.
- Repeat at least five to seven times.
7.Squats Aligned With Wall Using Exercise Ball:
The core muscles gain strength during this type of squat.
- We need to stand straight, back intact or leaning against a wall.
- Now keep an exercise ball between the lower back and the wall.
- Now place the feet and shoulder at a width, not together.
- Stretch the arms in front to maintain balance.
- Bend down as much as at ease
- Get back to normal position and repeat for 10-15 sittings.
8. Chair Squats:
It is also referred to as half-chair squats and advisable for the women who do not feel comfortable with the regular squats position.
- One needs to stand straight with feet and shoulder at width, not together
- Now sit slowly in the chair with the hips resting on it for a few seconds.
- Stand back again in the original pose taking help of the glute muscles.
- Once at ease, the duration can be increased from 15 till about 60 seconds.
- Repeat for 10-15 sittings.
Besides the ones mentioned before, some squats can even be done with the help of equipment during pregnancy. The only thing to remember is that consultation with a doctor is a must as he can assess the condition of the expectant mother and then take a call and recommend the ones that are suitable for her.
How Do Physical Changes During Pregnancy Affect Squats?
Squatting can be started as early in pregnancy as possible but with doctors’ consent. It is, however, seen through that as the pregnancy progresses, the size of the tummy changes and so does the body so exercise in the right way is a must. So, it is advisable to make the necessary changes to the exercising schedule as per the changes in the body.
Things to remember:
The hormones produced in the pregnancy can lead the join ligaments to stretch resulting in more injuries. The body weight also increases shifting the center of gravity and if using any equipment’s, there is an additional weight that is exerted on muscles and joints of the pelvic area as well as the lower back resulting in imbalance. It is thus important to follow a few basic pointers while doing squats during pregnancy.
Basic Guidelines to Follow While Doing Squats
To have a proper balance and be safe during the phase of pregnancy, few tips that should be borne in mind while performing squats in pregnancy are as below:
- The workout can be intense in the first trimester if the body is fine with it, also increasing the number of times to be done.
- The intensity of the workout in the second trimester should be not too high since the tummy grows with time as well. Never attempt to do difficult exercises.
- If need help to maintain the balance of the body, never hesitate for help.
- Increase the consumption of water and keep hydration as the prime focus. Always carry a bottle and take water while working out.
- Never wear tight clothes and opt for loose and cotton clothes through which you can breathe and even help in the prevention of sweating while exercising.
- Always wear a good quality of maternity bra that offers additional support to the breast while exercising.
- Always opt for the anti-skid sole and properly fitting shoes that do not hurt the toes and does not result in any falls.
- Always exercise on a flat surface to prevent from falling or sipping.
- Squats should not be performed immediately after a meal and a gap of an hour or two should be given, also should not be performed without eating anything.
- Do not exercise until the level of exhaustion.
When Should You Not Squat?
Squatting no doubt is a great and healthy option to be fit but pregnancy is a time when overexertion and doing wrong things could lead to problems. So, given below are certain conditions under which squatting should be avoided and these are:
- When the baby does not reach the optimal position even after 30 weeks- In case the baby is not in a position where the head is not down, doing squats is not a good idea. Squatting can push the bottom of the baby towards the pelvis leading to unfavorable position, in case the baby gets back to the head-down position, squatting can be resumed.
- While doing squats, in case one experiences pain, then it should be stopped immediately. It is ideal to have a discussion with the doctor pre-hand.
- If the expectant mother is undergoing any complications in pregnancy likeplacenta previa, low placenta, chances of preterm labor, more than one pregnancy, etc then squatting might not be a good idea as labor can get induced earlier.
Can Squats Induce Labor?
Squats are known to induce labor as they help in opening the pelvic floor muscles and even strengthen the same. This pelvic opening offers much room to the baby and it can easily descend towards the uterus, that can lead to cervix dilation resulting in inducing labor.
Few more instances are listed as below:
- When squatting, more room gets created for the baby, making his descent easy towards the birthing area.
- Women who deliver in squatting position can avoid the third or second degree of perineal tears, need lesser instruments to be used for delivery, especially the forceps.
Thus, starting from the initial stages of pregnancy till delivery, squats are helpful at all stages excepting the special medical conditions that have been mentioned above. This eases the labor and the birthing process. One should always go slow, starting with light exercises and then heading to the difficult ones gradually increasing the intensity. The most important, however, is to be comfortable so look out and perform to only the level where the body feels comfortable.