Belly gets bigger, boobs get bigger…butt gets flatter?? Why is Your Rear Disappearing During Pregnancy
It’s true, some of you may experience a booty gain during pregnancy. This has to do with where your body decides to distribute the additional fat that is stored during pregnancy. However, many of you will experience the opposite, your butt (your glutes) appears to flatten.
Why does this occur?
- During pregnancy your body anatomically changes to make room for your growing baby. Weaker abs, a growing belly and heavier breasts can cause your lower back to start to sway (increased lordosis). This position of your pelvis provides the least amount of glute activation.
- Additionally, your hips start to widen and your feet externally rotate, again causing less use of your glutes and the appearance of a flat butt. If you’re fortunate to not have a deflated peach, functionally there is still a good chance that you are losing strength (even though the additional fat may not reduce the size of your glutes).
- Lastly, not all, but many pregnant women choose different exercise and activities during pregnancy, or aren’t active at all. Activities like prenatal yoga or walking are great, but they don’t do a whole lot for maintaining those rear curves. Muscle strength and definition requires strength training.
So what can you do about it?
During pregnancy your goal shouldn’t be to sculpt the best glutes of your life or to PR (personal record) in the weight room. Your goal during pregnancy should be to maintain a healthy weight, stay active and maintain strength in the muscles commonly weakened by pregnancy. Strength training twice per week is hugely beneficial. You’ll maintain strength not just in your glutes, but your entire body…hopefully providing a more comfortable pregnancy. Subsequently, you might just keep a little shape in your rear.
How can training your glutes support your body during pregnancy?
- The hormone relaxin “relaxes” your joints so that your body can adapt for baby. This can create joint instability. Strong glutes help maintain stability in the knees, spine and hips.
- Glutes support hip extension. Strong glutes can reduce pregnancy low back pain by preventing excessive lumbar extension or overusing your low back.
- Pelvic pain is another common pregnancy complaint. Strong glutes can help stabilize the SI joint, reducing risk for pain.
Tips for training:
- Train your glutes as part of a full body strength/resistance program twice per week.
- Do more than just squats: if you have no complications or pain you can perform a large variety of exercises. There is no “one size fits all” guide to exercise. It will depend on your energy level, previous experience, technique and your intuition as to how the exercise feels. In general, as your pregnancy progresses your exercise choice may change. But recognize hip extension, adduction, abduction, standing, lying, sitting, dumbbells, bands, bodyweight exercises are all great options.
- Prepare for caring for baby. You’re going to do more bending and picking things up compared to pre-baby. Consider hip extension exercises like hip thrusts, bridges, kickbacks, quadruped hip extensions and deadlifts as good additions.
- Eat a healthy pregnancy diet, including sufficient protein (.8g per kg of bodyweight is the general recommended daily amount, but if you are strength training/active, that range can increase to 1.2-1.7g/kg. Although it’s harder to find pregnancy specific guidelines, one studyshowed the need to intake 1.2-1.5 g of protein per kg of body weight.
So as you keep getting those What to Expect While Expecting fruit and veggie updates, don’t forget your peach needs a little love too!