Prenatal exercise helps relieve discomfort and increases energy, according to MayoClinic.com. An exercise ball is an inexpensive but effective workout tool for expectant mothers. The large, plastic workout ball provides support along with its flexibility, allowing it to conform to your body. Ball exercises are also an alternative way to perform exercises in a safer manner while pregnant. Always listen to your body and consult with your health care provider when starting a new workout routine, especially during pregnancy.
Regular crunches performed on the floor are acceptable in the early stages of the pregnancy but become a risk once you reach the second trimester. This is due to the increased weight in your abdominal area that presses down as you lie on your back. The extra weight can slow blood flow and oxygen delivery to your body and to your baby. An exercise ball crunch doesn’t require you to lie on your back. Sit on the ball with your hands behind your ears. Lean back slightly into the ball as far as is comfortable before sitting back up.
Pregnant women benefit from Kegel exercises because they tighten the pelvic floor muscles. The simple moves help quite a few women during pregnancy and might also reduce bladder leak problems after the baby is born. You can perform Kegels without an exercise ball, but the ball provides a more comfortable upright position for this exercise. As you balance yourself on the ball, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles as you would to stop your urine flow. Count to five before releasing the muscles. Repeat the Kegel exercises several times while sitting on the ball.
Squats offer a lower body workout using the exercise ball as extra support or resistance. For a basic squat with some arm resistance, hold the exercise ball in front of your body. Lower yourself into a squat position, dropping the ball onto the floor and standing back up to the starting position. Squat again, this time picking up the ball as you stand up. Continue dropping and picking up the ball.
For a wall squat, position the ball behind your lower back so the ball is supported between your body and the wall. Lower your body into a squat position with the ball rolling down the wall. Stand back to the starting position. Repeat the squats five to 10 times.
Fitness balls work well to strengthen the core muscles during pregnancy. Those muscles support your uterus as it grows while helping improve posture. Balancing on the fitness ball in a sitting position engages your core muscles for a stronger middle section and abdomen. Some pregnant women find exercises balls more comfortable for sitting throughout the day.
For a specific abdominal exercise, use the ball for pelvic tilts. Start on your knees with the ball under your hands and upper body. Engage your abdominal muscles as you arch your back and tuck your pelvic bone down.