By Julie Wiebe

My online courses has been generating a lot of great questions behind the scenes. I love this one because it is from a male physical therapist on behalf of his newly pregnant wife. How sweet and cool is that?!

Q: My wife and I just found out we are having our first child. I had some questions about my wife and working out.  She currently enjoys working out by doing mostly classes (Zumba, body pump, dance classes etc),she loves to dance. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what she should and should not do for her health and the health of the baby while she is pregnant and also to prevent any pelvic floor issues while and after being pregnant.  I plan on incorporating some of things I learned in your online course for her workouts.

A: I wanted to give you my top three pieces of advice…but I couldn’t stop at just three. So here are six things to prioritize during pregnancy…..and a few blog suggestions…and well, some vlogs that might help. Consider it a baby “shower” of info!

  1. The number one piece of advice I can offer any woman is to know what good alignment is and maintain it as best they can throughout the pregnancy, particularly while exercising (try this instead ).
  2. Learn the pistoning relationship between the diaphragm and pelvic floor, and stay connected to it throughout the pregnancy. Get real familiar with both the inhale – diaphragm descends as the pelvic floor relaxes and opens (helps with delivery) and exhale – diaphragm lifts connected with lifting the pelvic floor to maintain strength.
  3. Use the Piston before each exercise rep! I teach “Blow before you go”! This exhale prior to movement activates the inner core prior to each movement and repetition setting up the optimum recruitment order of the central stabilizers. Continue the exhale throughout the rep to ensure that the pelvic floor is on board and integrated into movement and exercise patterns.  “Blow before you go” is such a good habit to get into for her. Post partum, it is critical to promote a return of integrated action of the pistoning central stabilizers, protecting her pelvic floor from the bearing down pressure of breath holding, and helping with lifting that bambino.
  4. Strengthen the postural muscles, I like the muscular relationships identified by Diane Lee. Muscles work better when they work together! For pregnant ladies the muscular relationships on the back side need to be strong enough to maintain proper alignment against all the changes on the front side. So I like to work on the Lats with the opposite Glute Max and the Upper Glutes (Medius/Minimus) with the inner thigh on the opposite side. Using them as teams instead of individual muscles, will enhance the activation of each.
  5. If dancing is her thing, then by all means dance! Just caution her about her alignment, avoiding breath holding, and connecting breath and her pelvic floor as she does her dancing or Zumba. Once folks learn the basics, I put these concepts into whatever exercise they enjoy to increase compliance. One of my favorite patients and I worked through the Hip Hop Abs DVD together to adapt it with these ideas and to choose exercises that best met her needs. Now that’s dancing!
  6. NO crunches! NO crunches! This and attention to alignment will help to protect her from diastasis.   An unresolved diastasis is a piece of the puzzle for issues such as incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

A few blogs with more ideas:

She also might find my Fit Floor vlog series helpful on my You Tube channel.  The Fit Floor 1 introduces some fun facts about the pelvic floor. Help her through the ski jump in Fit Floor 2 to be sure she can find her pelvic floor. Alignment tips can be found in Fit Floor 3.

Finally…a tip for the dad-to-be. Understand that in the last few weeks before delivery…all bets are off….help her off the couch.

Take care, and congrats to you and your wife!!