Firm Foundations™ – Pregnancy and Postnatal Fitness

Positions for pregnancy pelvic floor exercises

Focusing on your pelvic floor during pregnancy can be a challenge, particularly in the later months. With the weight of your baby or babies affecting your pelvic floor muscles, and the hormonal effects of pregnancy, it can be harder to feel your pelvic floor muscles working as your pregnancy progresses.
To keep up with your exercises, and feel that you are getting results or holding on to your pelvic floor fitness level, try changing positions to find the ones that work best for you.
Aim to lift and hold your pelvic floor muscles, while still breathing normally, and hold for between 3 - 12 seconds, depending on your personal pelvic floor ability.
The aim is to repeat between 3 - 12 times, working your muscles 3 times a day during pregnancy.
Focus on quality, and choose the best position for you, which may change with the different stages of your pregnancy.

Disclaimer: This exercise handout is not intended to replace the advice of a health and fitness professional who can tailor your program specifically to your health and fitness needs.

Photos and models by Fitness, Form and Function and Stuart Frost Photography


1Hands and knees

A great position to take the weight of your baby or babies off your pelvic floor.
Many women notice that it is much easier to do the exercises in this position, once you are in the later months of pregnancy.
Focus on feeling the muscles, allowing your lower deep abdominal muscles to still work as you lift your pelvic floor, with no breath holding.
If your wrists or back feel uncomfortable in this position, use another one of the positions below.

2Forearms on a ball

This position takes the pressure off your wrists, but may be a little more of a challenge, in keeping the ball still. You can place the ball against the wall before you start, if you need more stability.

Leaning forwards, resting your forearms on the ball, really tune into your pelvic floor.
Focus on several easy breaths first, then really tune in 'down below'.
Think about lifting the front and back passages up inside and hold.
Breathe and release. Check that there is no upper body tension.
Increase your focus to your pelvic floor inside, and then lift both the back and front parts.
Hold. Focus on holding for as long as your pelvic floor is able to hold (up to 12 seconds).
Release slowly, feeling the relax. If you let go and they have already 'gone' then you were not really holding the muscles. Stop and start again.

3Leaning on a wall

Leaning forward against a wall, this can be combined with your calf stretch.
Place your leg in position to stretch and hold this.
Focus more on the front part of your pelvic floor.
Smoothly lift this part up, breathing in and out 2 - 3 times as you hold.
The aim is not to tighten hard, but to keep the feel of the lift smooth, and also to really feel the hold of your pelvic floor while you are breathing. If your muscles relax before 2 - 3 breaths, aim to work up to this.
Relax and repeat when you change legs to stretch.

4Resting on forearms

Placing your head down lower on your forearms will take more weight off your pelvic floor, making it easier for some women to feel these muscles lift and hold.
Focus first on lifting the front part of your pelvic floor like you want to hold on to a full bladder. Release.
Focus on lifting the back part of your pelvic floor, like you want to hold onto wind. Release.
Now join the two together, first lifting the front and then the back part of your pelvic floor. Hold. Breathe.
Focus on keeping your muscles lifted. Release.
Use this position to focus more deeply, thinking and feeling your pelvic floor lifts, the hold and a gentle release at the end.

5Side lying position

Good for after the birth also

Lying on your side is a great position to take the weight of your baby or babies off the pelvic floor.
This is also one of the positions you can use to start your pelvic floor muscle exercises again after the birth.
When using this position you can also rest the top leg on a pillow to keep aligned during later pregnancy.
Focus on lifting the front and back passages first and then you may also feel a gentle drawing in of your lower abdominal muscles. Check that your pelvic floor is still holding, breathe easily and release.
Repeat, aiming to hold for as long as you can (up to 12 seconds) and relaxing between each one.
Aim for 3 - 12 repetitions, with each one done well. Rest when the muscles are getting tired - when you can't hold well, you hold your breath each time or other muscles tighten instead of your pelvic floor.

6Sitting on a ball

Sitting on a ball supports your pelvic floor, and also gives you something to lift your pelvic floor up and away from. Draw your pelvic floor up and away from the ball, and hold, breathing evenly. Relax.
To feel the muscles slightly differently lean forwards and focus more on lifting the front part of your pelvic floor.
This is the area that will need more attention after the birth, so feel this focus now and build on your awareness of your muscles and how well they work in this position.

7Standing firm and tall

Find your place on the floor where your feet are positioned evenly.
Feel the weight of your body gently move from side to side until you feel your weight is evenly placed.
Move from front to back until you feel your are centrally placed.
Stand firm and strong from your hips.
Feel this position and lift your pelvic floor a little, while breathing normally.
Hold for 2 - 3 breaths and release. Aim for a steady hold.
Repeat this three times a day.