18 Weeks

By the time you are 18 weeks pregnant you are nearly halfway through your second trimester and if you haven’t already started doing your basic antenatal exercise then now may be a good time to begin. Antenatal exercises are specifically designed exercises for pregnant women that aid the increasing demands of carrying the weight of your baby around and also help you to get back in shape quicker after the birth. If you have not done any exercising before then you need to start slowly and build up gradually.

Pregnancy 18 Weeks –  Exercising

Antenatal exercising includes:

Shoulder Rolls – Keep your chin tucked in and your neck stretched long. Lift your shoulders rhythmically up, back, down and round in large circles (very relaxing if done to music). By doing this 6-8 times with each shoulder can ease any aching or tension you may have in your shoulders, neck and upper back.

Tummy Strengtheners – Progesterone is responsible for relaxing a lot of your muscles and ligaments in pregnancy to make way for your growing baby. If you gently exercise your lengthening and widening abdominal muscles it will help to ease related aches and pains that you can experience in your back and ribcage. There are actually 4 muscle layers in your abdomen so it’s important to work the deepest muscle, known as the tranversus muscle.

Many women struggle to get back into shape after giving birth, but a lot of what you do to get back into shape successfully will usually begin long before the birth. In order to work that tranversus muscle you will need to get onto all fours. Keeping your back completely still and straight (no sagging), pull your belly button in towards your spine holding it for a few seconds, then let it out and repeat 6-8 times.

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Pelvic Floor Exercises – This is an essential pregnant exercise that you should ideally begin long before you are 18 weeks pregnant. The pelvic floor muscles are very important for keeping the abdominal walls in place and keeping us continent. Pelvic floor muscles are in both men and women and if they become weakened then we would be unable to control the flow of urine (or even faeces) whenever we laugh, coughed or sneezed suddenly. In women, these muscles can be put under enormous strain during pregnancy and especially birth, which is why it is essential that you begin these exercises as soon as possible to avoid problems later.

These exercises are really simple to do. Simply imagine that you have a full bladder and are desperate to pass urine, the muscles that you pull are your pelvic floor muscles, contract them in an upward motion and hold for a few seconds then release. Also, imagine that you are trying to grip hold of something internally, again hold for a few seconds and release. Repeat this exercise in batches of 6-8 throughout the day, wherever you are, and remember to keep breathing normally. It is not advised to do this exercise whilst you are actually passing urine by stopping it mid-flow as this can lead to urinary tract infections.

Leg Squats – This simply strengthens your leg muscles for the extra weight that you will be carrying in the coming months. Holding onto something secure, bend both legs in a straight line with one foot approximately 30cm in front of the other. Lower your legs slowly into 2 right angles until your back knee is almost touching the floor then raise slowly back up to the starting position. Repeat this 6-8 times, then change legs.

18 Weeks Pregnant – Healthy Pregnancy

As your pregnancy advances and your weight increases you will need to ensure that you maintain a good posture at all times by standing, bending and sitting in the correct position with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. If you need to pick anything up then bend only the legs, keeping the back straight.

A lot of first time mothers begin to feel the movement of their babies for the first time. Another thing, now that you’re 18 weeks pregnant, is you should be able to feel your uterus just below your bellybutton and will be starting to show a little.

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(See Pregnancy Week 18 – The Baby’s Development)


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