image bio

Today only: Get 20% off Breastfeeding Essentials with code FLASH3. Shop now ➔

Home > Learn > Getting Pregnant > >Three Exercises to Prepare for Pregnancy

Three Exercises to Prepare for Pregnancy

Jun 15, 21 5 min
Three Exercises to Prepare for Pregnancy

Wondering what exercises are best to help you reach your pregnancy goals? Leah Keller, a certified personal trainer and the creator of the EMbody Program, explains everything you need to keep in mind.

 

By Leah Keller

Prepare for a healthy pregnancy and empowered birth

Our fertility journey began almost ten years ago, during our honeymoon. After three years on a roller coaster of hopes bolstered and dashed, we needed a break. It was too stressful, too disappointing, and too depleting, so we pressed pause. That was April of 2013. 

To our delight and amazement, we conceived our daughter (now almost six years old!) in early July of that year. Somehow the stars aligned, a delicious sparkling rosé might have helped, and voila! Of course, we had been told countless times by well-meaning folks to “relax and let it happen,” which is easy advice to give, but impossible to take. That was until, out of pure emotional exhaustion, we simply couldn’t try anymore.

🌟 Shop Prenatal vitamins⟶

By the time I saw that first positive pregnancy test, I had five years under my belt of coaching fitness clients through their pregnancies and postpartum recoveries. I had learned what exercises prepared women best for a healthy pregnancy and empowered birth and was now able to experience first-hand the benefits and impact of these movements. So, based on years of research and experience as a pre-/postnatal fitness professional and as a mother, here are my top exercise recommendations to prepare for pregnancy:

  1. Moderate total body conditioning
  2. Wall-sit with core compressions
  3. Pelvic release (or pelvic drop)

Total body conditioning

Woman in plank form exercise

This can include a variety of energizing activities you love. For me, it meant strength training, cycling, running, and walking. These activities boosted my overall health, got my heart pumping, and helped me de-stress while maintaining a healthy weight — all factors that improve reproductive health. For someone else, total body conditioning could include a weekend hike with friends and swimming twice a week or a couple of weekly fitness classes and an occasional jog. Too much vigorous exercise can negatively impact ovulation, so practice moderation with the conditioning exercise of your choice. A healthy target is 30-60 minutes of moderate activity, three to six days per week. Bonus points for anything that gets you outside, relaxed and smiling. The mood-boosting and stress-busting benefits of exercise are particularly helpful when preparing for a pregnancy. 

Wall-sit with core compressions 

Woman doing wall sit pose

This exercise strengthens your deep core muscles while building stamina for birth. Perform this exercise three to four days per week.

How to perform a wall-sit with core compressions:

  1. Stand with your back against a wall, and walk your feet forward.
  2. Slide your body down the wall until you reach a 90-degree bend in your knees and hips. Your feet should be securely planted underneath you, with toes pointing straight ahead. Keep your spine in neutral alignment (do not try to force it flat against the wall). 
  3. Place your hands on your abdomen. Feel your torso expand as you take a breath to prepare, and then exhale as you draw both your belly and your pelvic floor up and in towards the wall. 
  4. Soften and release both your abs and your pelvic floor as you take a breath. Engage your abs and your pelvic floor in an upward squeeze toward the wall as you exhale.
  5. Remain in a wall-sit and continue this slow, controlled pulsing for one to two minutes, releasing the core muscles with each inhalation and engaging with each exhalation. 

Pelvic release (or pelvic drop)

Woman sitting by the wall

A strong, toned pelvic floor better tolerates the stresses of pregnancy and childbirth. And yet, it is important to be able to consciously release and relax the sphincter muscle during labor and to lengthen and release the pelvic floor for general core health and function. The pelvic release or reverse kegel is a phenomenal exercise for achieving all of the above. I suggest completing the pelvic release exercise following each wall-sit with core compressions, three to four days per week.

How to perform a pelvic release: 

  1. Start by gently engaging the pelvic floor in a partial Kegel. To do this, exhale as you lift and squeeze the center of your pelvic floor towards your head. It can help to envision picking up a blueberry with your vagina. 
  2. Then slowly inhale an expansive, diaphragmatic breath as you release, relax and soften the pelvic floor. Allow the pelvis to drop, lengthen, and open like a flower. 
  3. Repeat, gently lifting the pelvic floor as you exhale then releasing it slowly, consciously, completely. Continue to lift slightly and release fully for one to two minutes. 

Movement for joy and preparation

Every fertility, pregnancy, childbirth, and mothering experience is unique, but exercise is a deeply effective way to build strength and stamina for it all. Moving your body brings joy, and adding in a few minutes of targeted core and pelvic floor training exercises a few times per week helps to better prepare you for the journey both physically and mentally. Take the time and reap the benefits; you are worth it. 

Interested in learning about how exercise affects fertility? Read What You Need to Know About How to Approach Exercise and Fertility now!

 

Leah Keller is a certified personal trainer and the founder of Every Mother (formerly The Dia Method), a fitness system endorsed by medical and birth professionals worldwide. With over two decades of fitness experience, Leah empowers and equips women to exercise safely during pregnancy, labor with confidence, and restore core strength and total body fitness after birth – no matter how long it’s been. The EMbody Program grew out of her private training practice in New York City. It earned unparalleled medical validation when researchers at Weill Cornell Medical School collaborated with Leah to conduct a pilot study with 63 women, all of whom achieved full resolution of diastasis recti in less than 12 weeks. Leah is now collaborating with researchers at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell, and Harvard Medical School to conduct a randomized, controlled clinical trial to gather additional data on the health benefits of the EMbody core strengthening program. Leah holds an MA in English, a BA in Psychology, and has been featured as a women’s health expert by major media outlets, including NPR and Good Morning America. She has a young daughter and a baby boy.

Images courtesy of Every Mother.

Shop Products From This Article
sticker favorite
self care gift for new mom

Pregnancy Self-Care Bundle

Curated pregnancy self-care package

$120 $110

Water Bottle
5.0 star rating 23 Reviews

Water Bottle

Reusable water bottle by Nalgene

$15

Shop Products

Subscribe & Save $3.00 sticker bestseller
Magnesium Plus
4.5 star rating 72 Reviews

Magnesium Plus

Pregnancy-safe drink mix to support relaxation‡

$35 $32

Subscribe & Save $5.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal Daily Packets
4.7 star rating 287 Reviews

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60 $55

Subscribe & Save $3.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal gummy vitamins
4.5 star rating 73 Reviews

Prenatal Gummies

Doctor-formulated & delicious prenatal gummies

$29 $26

sticker bestseller
Pregnancy Tests
4.7 star rating 208 Reviews

Pregnancy Tests

As low as $3.20 per test

$16

Subscribe & Save $4.00 sticker new
postnatal multivitamin supplement
4.4 star rating 5 Reviews

Postnatal Vitamin

Nutritional & energy boost for breastfeeding‡

$40 $36

Subscribe & Save $8.00 sticker save
Prenatal Vitamin and Magnesium Pregnancy-Safe Bundle
5.0 star rating 5 Reviews

Magnesium & Multi Pack

Bundle & save on top sellers

$85 $77

Subscribe & Save $15.00 sticker favorite
Trimester Pack: Prenatal Daily Packets
4.0 star rating 2 Reviews

Trimester Pack: Prenatal Daily Packets

A full trimester worth of prenatals at a great price

$165 $150

Subscribe & Save $5.00 sticker bestseller
Prenatal Daily Packets
4.7 star rating 287 Reviews

Prenatal Daily Packets

Vegan prenatal daily packets

$60 $55

sticker favorite
Women's Fertility Test Bundle
4.9 star rating 7 Reviews

Women's Fertility Test Bundle

Bundle & save $26

$205 $185

sticker bestseller
Legacy At-home Sperm Analysis
4.7 star rating 46 Reviews

Legacy At-home Sperm Analysis

Fertility analysis for him

$295

sticker save
The Test Strip Pack
4.8 star rating 32 Reviews

The Test Strip Pack

Bundle & save with our earth-friendlier test strips

$37

sticker save
TTC Essentials Bundle
4.0 star rating 2 Reviews

TTC Essentials Bundle

TTC just got more affordable

$76 $70

Reach Out, We're Here

Have questions about your order or products? For the speediest answer, check out our FAQ section. Need something else? Come find us below.

Customer Support
support@natalist.com

Press Inquiries
media@everlyhealth.com

Business & Partnerships
team@natalist.com

Affiliates + Influencers
team@natalist.com

Job Openings
Careers Page