Prenatal exercises for a smooth delivery and fast recovery
The Dia Method, created by personal trainer and pregnancy fitness guru Leah Keller, uses small, controlled movements that will help you train for a smoother, stronger delivery and return to your firm pre-baby body.
Three moves, three sets each, three days a week
- A wall
- Resistance band
- Mat and water (Hydrate!)
Wall sits (with abdominal pulses)
Repeat three times, 30 seconds each
Week 1: Three reps of 30 seconds
Week 2: Three reps of 45 seconds
Week 3: Three reps of 60 seconds
To strengthen and tone the butt and thighs, to build stamina, and to mentally and physically prepare for a stronger, faster delivery.
Place your head, shoulders and hips against the wall. Walk your feet a step or two away from the wall, hip-distance apart, toes pointing straight ahead. Then carefully slide the body down the wall until your knees and hips both form 90-degree angles. The feet should be directly beneath the knees. Adjust the body as needed to keep your joints comfortable while challenging your muscles. The knees should never pass in front of the toes.
Once you’re in the full, 90-degree wall sit, place both hands on your belly and gently pulse your abdominal muscles toward the spine, exhaling with each pulse. Do this for 30 seconds.
If you need to slide up the wall to lighten the load on your legs, feel free to do so. To exit the wall sit, slide up the wall as you step back into an upright position or place your hands on the wall behind you to push yourself up and out of the wall sit. Shake out the legs between each set.
Tip: After the first week, increase each wall sit to 45 seconds, and gradually work up to maintaining each 90-degree wall sit for one full minute. This exercise prepares you for labor with strength, both physically and mentally. The average length of each contraction is about one minute. You will enter birth with strength and confidence to push effectively through each contraction.
Repeat for three sets, one minute each
To strengthen the back, biceps and rear shoulders; to open the chest and improve posture, reversing rounded shoulders common during pregnancy.
Sit on a mat and extend your legs in front of you, keeping a slight bend in the knees. Place a resistance band securely under the arches of each foot and separate the feet to about hip distance.
Sit tall through the spine as you hold one end of the band in each hand, adjusting to ensure the length on each side is equal. You should feel some tension on the band with your arms lengthened. If necessary, wrap the band around your hands until the band is taut. Keep the spine vertical or lean very slightly forward from the hips. Grasping the band, your palms should face each other, thumbs up.
With the arms still in a lengthened position, prepare by taking a breath. Exhale and draw your belly to the spine as you pull the band toward you, brushing your elbows alongside the body and squeezing your shoulder blades toward the spine.
Continue to row in a slow, controlled manner for one full minute. Think "exhale, belly back" each time you draw the band toward your body. Rest as needed.
Tip: Keep your spine still, shoulders low and your ribs together throughout the movement. Never arch the back or splay the ribs apart as you row. Your body is the still point — always draw the band to you; avoid pulling your body to the band.
Repeat for three sets, one minute each
To gently lengthen and stretch the low back while strengthening and toning the low abs. This is a very comforting exercise that feels great at the end of a long day. Feel free to perform tabletop tilts every day if you wish. Note: This is not a "cat cow" stretch.
Get on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position, with your hands directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. If it bothers your wrists to have palms flat on the floor, please make a fist with each hand and place the fists on the mat, with thumbs forward and inner arms facing the body. Keep the spine in a straight line, flat back to start.
Tip: Avoid using the butt and thighs to tilt the pelvis.
Let the belly drop (back remains flat) as you take a breath. Then exhale and engage your abdominal muscles to hug your baby up into the spine as you gently tilt the low back, drawing the tailbone down. The upper and middle back should remain motionless throughout. Focus the work of each tilt in the lower abs. It’s a tiny, focused movement to strengthen the low abs as you dynamically stretch and relax the low back.
Continue to pulse in a slow and controlled manner, exhaling each time you draw the abs up into the spine. Continue for one full minute, then rest in a child’s pose stretch with knees apart to create room for the bump.