Ever looked at a mum bum and thought it’s more box than bubble? Pregnancy brings a plethora of gifts but kind to your booty, it is not.
Your ‘bum’ is made up of 3 main muscles: gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. These three muscles attach to your pelvic bone. When they are strong, functional and covered in fat, they look juicy and pert. When they get weaker or underused, or lose fat, they can give the appearance of drooping and ‘the flat bum’.
What contributes to flat bum syndrome during pregnancy?
When pregnant, your posture changes. Your growing baby adds weight to the front of your body which is very uneven. Your body adjusts to this heavy front by tilting your pelvis and spine forwards to assist balance. This variance can give you tight hip flexors (anyone have sore hips in pregnancy? ) and underactive glutes.
When pregnant, relaxin floods your body to help all your ligaments be able to stretch to make room for growing a baby. This is great to open up your pelvis for birth and carrying, but it also means it’s easier for our posture to change and for our muscles to move in ways we aren’t expecting.
Estrogen plays a role in where we store our fat. During pregnancy its levels change, increasing dramatically. While the contribution to flat butt is minor compared to the other changes, it merits a mention.
Glutes are big muscles and need regular work to stay strong. During pregnancy, we tend to get less active – especially near the end. After birth, we go into breastfeeding, recovery and more activities where we are generally sitting. It’s common that as a result of pregnancy our activity levels will drop lower than our normal for over a year. If we started with sedentary jobs – that’s multiplied!
How can we combat flat bum?
We can help support our glutes with a variety of pregnancy and post-birth safe core and gluteal exercises. Here are 4 examples we regularly do at Fit For 2:
1. Squat and Wall Sit Squat:
Simple is sometimes the best!
- Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly out.
- Bend your knees like you’re about to sit in a chair.
- Press through your heels and come back up to standing, activating your core and pelvic floor.
There are a variety of different foot positions that can access slightly different muscles. Speak to your MumSafe™ trainer for safe varieties.
Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.
2. Fire Hydrant:
This exercise is named as it is like a dog peeing on a fire hydrant.
- Start on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips, back straight.
- Activating your core and pelvic floor to ensure stability (i.e. don’t move and stay back flat) lift your left leg open to the side, maintaining the 90-degree bend. As if you were a puppy taking a pee.
- Return to the starting position
- Repeat on other side
Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps on each side
If you need to add resistance, try a resistance band around your thighs – but only add once you can control your pelvic floor and core. Avoid rotation through your torso and hips.
3. Leg Extension:
A great exercise all the way up to your birth and fantastic post-birth to restrengthen the core.
- Starting on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips – back straight!
- Activating your core and pelvic floor to ensure stability, extend one leg straight out behind you, lifting no higher than your back.
- Return the leg to the floor.
- Repeat with the other leg.
Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps on each leg
If a single leg is too easy you can do an alternate arm and leg.
4. Glute Bridge:
When it’s safe to be on your back, this exercise will really encourage those glutes to connect.
- Start on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor.
- Lift your hips towards the ceiling.
- Lower your hips back to the floor.
Aim for 3 sets of 15 reps.
You can make alterations to this to make it safe for later term pregnancy, or to make it more challenging as your body recovers post birth.
In pregnancy we have introduced the Reverse Glute Bridge whereby your hands are on the floor and you push your body up into a bridge. You can also use a fitball or a couch as well.
At Fit For 2 we place a lot of focus on gluteal exercises to counteract the risks of flat butt and maintain good posture and strength for a pain-free pregnancy and a strong motherhood. For women who have aches and pains, we will always accommodate with a modification that suits.
Find a MumSafe™ trainer in your area for more information.
Anita Guerra is a Registered Midwife and Certified Fitness Trainer. She runs Fit For 2 in South Morang, Victoria. To find out more about her and get in touch, click here.
You can also find her on Instagram.