It's natural to want to reshape your ever-changing pregnant body. But let’s start off with the fact that you can't get rid of love handles nor can you spot reduce, especially during pregnancy.
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Remember that it’s important to gain a healthy amount of weight in order for you baby to grow, be healthy and get the nourishment he or she needs for proper development through healthy eating and staying active.
That said, there are things you can do to strengthen your body and help to improve your posture and deep core strength, which could help minimize the appearance of those added love handles that come along with being pregnant.
Pregnancy relatively is a short period of time, so be positive and remind yourself that you can work on losing those added pounds and say bye-bye to those love handles after giving birth.
Walk and Strength Train
Get outside and get walking! A 2016 review from Spanish researchers found that including a combination of both aerobic (think walking) and anaerobic (resistance/strength training) can be very beneficial for cardiovascular health and prevention of incontinence in pregnant women.
It’s best to include both forms of exercise regularly, aiming for 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise most days of the week and resistance training exercises two to four times each week maintain or even improve health during pregnancy along with strengthening your deep core muscles.
Japanese researchers also found that walking improved the mood of pregnant women. So keep on walking, because improved mood also means decreased stress, which helps to better regulate hormones and cortisol levels that can affect weight gain.
Additionally, include these exercises in your workouts to help improve your core strength, posture and focus on lengthening through your body.
1. Reach + Curl
On all fours, reach your left leg back and right arm forward using your deep core muscles, midback and glutes to move. Inhale as you reach your opposite arm and leg out, lengthening through your entire body.
Exhale as you use your core muscles to draw your arm and leg toward each other as you round your spine. Do 10 reps slowly on one side, and then switch sides.
2. Kneeling Side Reaches
From a side kneeling position, reach your top leg out and away from your body while reaching your arm overhead. Inhale to reach your arm and leg out and away from each other feeling your core, glutes and midback working, focus on lengthening through your foot, head and top arm.
Exhale as you round your spine to draw your elbow and knee toward each other. Do 10 reps on one side, and then switch.
3. Squats + Rotations
Lower into a wide squat with your arms reaching out in front of you, weight mostly in your heels to feel your glutes, hamstrings and deep core engage.
Exhale as you stand up and rotate to one side, allowing your back leg and hip to rotate around with your body while reaching your arms up, feeling a lengthening through your body.
Inhale as you come back to center, and then lower back down to start. Do 10 reps, alternating sides slowly.
Improve Your Posture
Focus on standing tall and lengthening through the top of your head while gently connecting your deep core muscles. Doing this as you move throughout your day can help you appear slimmer and mask added weight gain (even though you know you need to gain weight during pregnancy).
A 2002 study from the International Urogynecology Journal of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction found that the transverse abdominals and internal obliques are recruited when activating the pelvic floor muscles.
All of your deep core muscles need to work together for optimal core function, which helps improve and strengthen muscles for improved posture. Added benefits of improving posture includes:
- Strengthening core muscles as you gently "zip up" your from your pelvic floor muscles (it'll kind of feel like hugging your baby with your belly).
- Decreasing back pain as you lengthen through the top of your head.
- Improving energy. Practice inhaling deeply and slowly for six counts and exhaling out slowly for eight counts.
Establish a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Eating a well-balanced diet of vegetables, good-quality fats and proteins, some fruit and lots of water while minimizing your intake of sugars and processed foods helps you gain adequate healthy weight gain during pregnancy.
Eating healthy can also help to minimize those love handles, but remember, it’s important to gain weight during pregnancy, and you can't control where genetics will distribute that weight gain.
Follow the tips above and include the exercises in your prenatal fitness regimen along with eating a well-balanced, healthy, nutritious diet to help keep you on track with healthy weight gain to nourish your developing baby. After baby you can circle back to losing those love handles. Until then, stand tall, mama!
- Pelvic Floor and Abdominal Muscle Interaction: EMG Activity and Intra-Abdominal Pressure
- Benefits of aerobic or resistance training during pregnancy on maternal health and perinatal outcomes: A systematic review
- Home-based walking during pregnancy affects mood and birth outcomes among sedentary women: A randomized controlled trial