Squats During Pregnancy: Are They Safe?

Pregnancy squats feature

This is a question I actually get a lot, which surprises me a bit. I don’t know that I’ve actually ever been concerned about squatting during pregnancy. But, in my second pregnancy, I did have several clients look at me with concern while uttering a “be careful, you don’t want him to fall out” when I would demo a squat during later pregnancy.

I honestly didn’t think anything of it, just laughed it off. The reality of a baby falling out during a squat or a squat putting you into labor is, well, slim to none. But, you do hear stories.

There really are people out there who have been cautioned against certain exercises due to medical conditions or restrictions from their doctor. Upon searching, I did notice that there was a TON of differing opinions on squatting during late pregnancy. When you add in the opinions of friends and family it can get confusing.

However, for the majority of pregnant women, squatting is perfectly safe and something I would definitely recommend during pregnancy.

Why you should drop it like a squat during pregnancy

I think by now you’ve realized I’m a huge fan of squats, so I may be a little biased. However, there are plenty of reasons squats are amazing for pregnancy.

First reason being, you do a squat every time you sit down or stand up from a chair or couch. It’s an incredibly functional exercise that we literally do every day in many different ways. For moms who have older children, squatting to pick up kids can often be more comfortable than bending at the waist. Then when that baby comes out, oh mama you are going to be squatting like crazy.

Not only that, but strengthening the legs and glutes with variations of squats can help keep common aches and pains, like back and hip pain, at bay.

Added bonus, squats are also good for the pelvic floor. WHAT?!? The pelvic floor is a dynamic group of muscles and squats are a great, functional way to train them. Getting into a deeper squat can help lengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Adding in controlled breathing during your squat can also help both relax and contract the pelvic floor.

Are you sold on squats yet? Still skeptical? Okay, well let’s chat about signs that your squat may not be serving you right now.

When should you NOT drop it like a squat?

Of course, if you have any medical conditions or are advised by your doctor not to exercise or exert yourself during pregnancy. Also, if you are put on bedrest or have any other pregnancy-related condition. These are pretty safe bets that squats are off the table for you. But, this is usually fairly rare.

So, how do you know when squatting, or HOW you’re squatting, isn’t serving you well right now? I tell my clients to look for the 3 P’s:

  • Pain- Any pain during or after your squats, which includes hip, pelvic, back, and belly pain.
  • Peeing- Any leaking, urine, or gas during squats. This can also include an increase in urinary frequency afterward as well.
  • Pressure- Any bulging, high pressure, or tampon falling out feeling in the vagina. This also includes feeling any increases in pressure or bulging feelings in the rectum.

The 3 P’s are a great way to field any exercise you’re doing, really. Do they mean you have to completely stop that exercise? No. They DO mean that your strategy, the WAY you’re doing it, or the intensity/weight of that exercise may not be appropriate for you right now.

Often when experiencing any of these symptoms, a simple change can be tremendously helpful in keeping you active and comfortably moving (and squatting) until due day!

Keep Calm and Squat On

The thing I LOVE about weight lifting and weighted (even bodyweight) exercises, like squatting, is how adaptable they are. For pregnancy, exercise adaptability is key to staying active comfortably from stage to stage. So, how do you adjust if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms above while you’re squatting? Well, I am here to tell you!

  • Adjust your squat stance- Taking a wider-than-hips stance can be tremendously helpful, especially as the belly gets bigger. This can reduce pressure on the pelvic floor by allowing more room for your belly and allow you to get lower into that squat, if you wish.
  • Hold on to something or use a bench/chair to tap- If you’re feeling unsteady or uneasy doing a squat, you can always use some assistance! Holding on to something like a chair or table can be helpful in maintaining balance during your squat. So can having something like a chair or a bench behind you to tap or “sit to stand”.

These are just a few ways to vary squats to help them feel more comfortable for you, but I literally have a million other tricks up my sleeve. I also don’t want to overwhelm you with squatting options, so I’ll leave you with these two very common options.

Overall, squats are amazing during pregnancy (and any other time) and I highly recommend them. But, there’s also lots of conflicting information out there.

Did this article help you cut through all the noise to get an answer that helps you feel in control and empowered by how amazingly strong your body is? I hope so.

Check out more of Madison’s articles on prenatal and postnatal exercise here or on her profile.

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