While some exercises get tricky during the last months of pregnancy (like lying on your back – the pressure on your aorta can make you feel faint), the early stage is actually a more delicate time. “We don’t recommend high-impact exercises or ones that elevate the heart rate, since they can raise the body’s temperature and could cause spontaneous miscarriage,” says gynaecologist Dr Marcio Coslovsky. Which is where this plan from antenatal personal trainer Gizele Monteiro and Vanessa Marques, a physio specialising in obstetrics comes in. Do it three times a week.
1/ HAMSTRING STRETCH
Hamstrings tend to shorten with pregnancy weight gain, so here’s how to keep them supple. Lying on your back, place a resistance band over the sole of your right foot and hold it by the ends. Straighten your leg at a 90-degree angle to the floor (or as far as you can), left leg bent with your foot touching the floor (A). Hold for 30 seconds, then push against the band for about five seconds (B) before straightening it for another 30 seconds, then swap legs.
2/ BACK STRENGTHENER
Your back muscles are put through the wringer during pregnancy, so be sure they’re strong. Sitting with your back straight and your feet wide, grab a medium- to high-intensity resistance band and hold it between your hands at shoulder level (A). Pull the band until your elbows are straight (B). That’s one rep. Do two sets of eight reps.
3/ LUMBAR STRETCH
When you’re pregnant, your centre of gravity changes since your body is carrying more weight in the front, bringing the lumbar (lower back) forwards. This stretch helps balance that. Sit on a chair with your feet apart and back straight, arms on your legs (A). Stretch your hands in front of you, aligning your elbows with the floor and curving your back like you’re diving (B). Hold for 30 seconds and repeat twice more.
4/ ANKLE STABILISER
A risk during pregnancy is twisting your ankles, because they become weaker. Facing a wall – and using both hands for support – stand on tiptoe (A). Mimic walking, raising one heel at a time. Switch your foot with the sole on the ground, while the other foot stays on the tip of the toes, with the knee bent (B). That’s one rep. Do two sets of 20. You may be used to doing this on a step, but go flat to minimise heel friction.