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Exercises to strengthen your core and pelvic floor while pregnant

Celebrity Michelle Bridges demonstrating side plank raise exercise There’s nothing better than a bit of exercise to help you feel on top of your game – mentally and physically.

It’s even more important when you’re pregnant.

The list of benefits is bigger than your growing baby belly. Exercising when you’re pregnant gives you more energy, relieves stress, improves your mood, improves your sleep and helps your posture. It is also said to decrease back pain, ease constipation, bloating and swelling, prepare you for the physical stress of labour and help your recovery too.

Most important is that you focus on your core strength and pelvic floor muscles. A strong core will help your back support your growing belly and strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will mean you’re less likely to experience problems with incontinence after birth.

It is also extremely important that you chat to your health care provider about pregnancy exercise and your own specific situation.

Here are some good exercises that you can do during pregnancy to strengthen your core and your pelvic floor muscles.

Do two rounds of the following circuit:

1. Engage your pelvic floor


Start position: To find your pelvic floor muscles imagine you are trying to stop yourself midway through a pee! Then imagine you’re trying to do up a tight pair of jeans. Focus on a ‘drawing up’ action rather than a ‘sucking in’ action and contain the contraction to the pelvic floor area – don’t tighten your abs, thighs or butt.

Execution: Hold the contraction and then gently release. Do this in six contractions, holding each contraction for 10 seconds. Then try to keep your pelvic floor engaged throughout the rest of the session.

2. Standing knee raise


Start position: Stand upright in good posture with shoulders back and chest up tall.

Execution: Keeping your core switched on, and your back tall and straight, raise one knee approx. 10-15cm off the ground for the allocated number of reps. Make sure you alternate legs left, right, left, right.

Hold each rep for 3-5 seconds, doing 5 each side. Be aware your balance may start to be challenged as your bump grows. To make this more difficult, close one or both eyes.

3. Side plank raise (on knees)


Start position: Lie on your side with your knees on the ground and your chest open. Support your weight with your arms – the lower arm resting on its elbow the higher arm in front for balance. Palms on the floor.

Execution: Inhale. Then as you exhale raise your hips straight up so that your body is in a straight line from your head to your knees (your knees should be 90 degrees from your body). Imagine you are pushing out from your shoulder. Raise the upper arm towards the ceiling. Lower your hips back gently to the floor.

Hold each rep for 3-5 seconds, doing 5 each side. Be aware your balance may start to be challenged as your bump grows.

12WBT has a Pregnancy Program to guide you through any trimester of your pregnancy. The program has been devised by exercise scientists and professional trainers, tested and approved by specialist physiotherapists and osteopaths, and adheres to the Pregnancy Exercise Guidelines by Fitness Australia.


This blog post is sponsored by Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation. To learn more about the 12WBT Pregnancy Program and get a sample exercise plan and recipes head to

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