you should check out the bradley method, even if you don't plan on following that method necessarily to give birth. their exercise plan includes some others in addition to the kegels and squats like walking, pelvic tilts, etc. my guess is their website might have descriptions. www.bradleybirth.com
Not specific to natural childbirth, but I teach prenatal yoga and here are a couple of things I like to use in addition to the already mentioned exercises.... directing breath into your chest/back (helps when your diaphram restricts your breathing), hip openers (frog, horse), and planks are good for maintaining core strength.
rachelinouray:Not specific to natural childbirth, but I teach prenatal yoga and here are a couple of things I like to use in addition to the already mentioned exercises.... directing breath into your chest/back (helps when your diaphram restricts your breathing), hip openers (frog, horse), and planks are good for maintaining core strength.
My yoga instructor told me not to do any poses that are all ab work, like the plank or the boat.
So are planks safe? I'm 33 weeks.
First thought.... My golden rule for exercise is do things that feel good and listen to my body when it tells me something isn't right. I don't like someone telling me what I can and cannot do. I like making those decisions for myself. OK, soapbox over.
In the classes I teach, I don't do deep abdominal work or anything that really strains the abdominals. No situps, always roll to the side to sit up, etc. Also, I don't do anything really on the belly.... no boats, bows, etc.
I do like work that helps us stabilize our pelvis and access our core/lower abdominals. For me, plank is still a pose that works for this. You can modify it by raising your arms up above your feet. For example, at my regular crossfit workout I do pushups with my hands on a balance beam. You can also lean up against a wall and access the core and get the movement of lowering, without straining your abdominals. Another modification for this would be tabletop (knees down with your hips at a right angle). This is what I use in sun salutations or vinyasana work in place of a lot of planks.
I also do an ab-less abdominal that is really more about engaging your lower core. Get ready for bridge pose and get tight and tuck your tailbone without coming up into the pose itself. Without straining it or really working the muscles, you can work on accessing those lower abdominal muscles so that you can really connect. (This was also recommended by my chiro for helping with pelvic stability.)
I think specific pregnancy yoga techniques are great. Also, just going on good walks is great pre-pregnancy exercise.
My Bradley classes suggest about 40 pelvic rocks a day (increase as you get close to your due date), work up to 300 kegels a day, tailor sit as much as possible throughout the day, side relaxation, butterfly leg exercises, and squats.