Not all forms of exercise are safe during pregnancy, but adding squats to your routine may be appropriate and beneficial, particularly in later weeks. Squats work many of the muscles in your lower body, help prepare you for labor and delivery and help ease some of the discomfort associated with being pregnant. Talk to your doctor before beginning a new pregnancy workout routine.
A basic squat doesn't require any equipment to perform. However, during pregnancy your body shape changes and your center of gravity shifts, making squats with an exercise ball more comfortable for many pregnant women. If you prefer traditional squats, holding the back of a chair helps stabilize you as you do the move. Holding light hand weights while doing squats increases the challenge, but may not be appropriate if you are new to the exercise.
To perform a squat, stand with your knees positioned over your toes and your feet pointed outward slightly. Allow your arms to hang loosely at your sides. Slowly lower your body until your knees reach a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, keeping your feet flat on the floor throughout the exercise. Hold the back of a chair if you feel unbalanced while squatting. Do five to 20 repetitions. If you are new to squatting, start with fewer repetitions and gradually increase the number as you gain strength and endurance. If your obstetrician approves it, hold weights in your hands as you squat to increase the muscular benefits. To do squats with an exercise ball, place the ball between the base of your spine and the wall and rest lightly as you do squats.
Using proper form during squats is always important, but is vital during pregnancy to prevent an injury and keep you and your baby safe. As you squat, never lower your buttocks lower than your knees. This protects your back and helps prevent you from falling. The Baby Center website recommends inhaling as you lower your body and exhaling as you rise to the starting position. This helps you focus on each squat, which ensures proper form. Never do squats without your doctor's approval.
Squats increase the strength in your thighs and calves, which might make it easier to carry the extra weight associated with pregnancy. Including regular exercise into your pregnancy routine also burns calories, which helps control weight gain. Squatting in the final weeks of your pregnancy also helps open your pelvic area, which speeds labor and makes delivery easier. If you plan to stand in a squatting position for delivery, adding squats during the latter part of your pregnancy conditions your body for the process.
Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.