Exercising While Pregnant

By Faith Barbare, Owner and Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist at SimplyFit

You just found out you’re expecting, and there are a million thoughts racing through your mind. One of those might be whether you should continue exercising or possibly start exercising.

It is always best to consult with your doctor about exercising during your pregnancy. More often than not, your doctor will encourage exercise, but he or she can also offer advice to help keep you and baby safe.

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercising comes with many health benefits, and that holds true even when you’re expecting. While maintaining a healthy weight during and after your pregnancy is a huge plus, the benefits do not stop there.

Exercising during pregnancy can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, which can be harmful to you and your baby. Exercising during pregnancy can also reduce the risk of lower back pain which can creep in at any stage of your pregnancy.

Some common issues that can arise during pregnancy are diastasis recti, pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic floor prolapse, but with proper exercise, you can help reduce or eliminate these issues.

Aside from the physical benefits of exercising while pregnant, you can also improve your sleep and overall mood. For example, it can reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Growing a baby is hard work, and you can find that exhaustion sets in quicker and more often. However, exercising can help you get over the hump and give you energy throughout the day.

When To Stop Exercising

While exercising can be beneficial during pregnancy, there are a few things you need to watch out for. If you have any of the following symptoms you will want to stop right away and consult with your doctor: vaginal bleeding or amniotic fluid leakage, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath before exertion or regular painful contractions are signs that you should stop exercising and consult your doctor right away.

Things To Consider

It is recommended that pregnant women complete 20 – 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. If you did not previously exercise before getting pregnant you will want to work your way up to that.

Be sure to maintain good posture and alignment while exercising. If you feel yourself losing form, lower your weights and reset the move. You will want to wear proper clothes and shoes, including a supportive bra. While working out, make sure you are on a flat level surface to avoid injury.

It is also very important to make sure you stay hydrated, not only during your workout but throughout the day. Be sure to get up slowly when going from a floor position to a standing position to avoid getting dizzy. You also want to avoid crowning or coning of the abdominal area when performing exercises as well as when getting up from a lying position.

Be sure to listen to your body, if something does not feel right, modify what you are doing or stop completely.

Exercises to Avoid

While there are many things you can continue to do while pregnant, there are some things you will want to avoid to help keep you and baby safe.

    • Activities with a high risk of falling including contact sports.
    • Lying on your stomach.
    • Anything that causes you to hold your breath.
    • Exercise intensity that leaves you unable to comfortably hold on a conversation.
    • Activities done in high temperatures such as hot yoga or outdoor activities in the Summer. You want to avoid overheating.
    • Activities that involve an altitude change like scuba diving or hiking over 6,000 feet.
    • Advanced abdominal moves should be avoided.
    • Exercises that cause pain or aggravate existing pain.
    • Any move that causes bulging in the abdominal wall. You even want to be mindful of this when getting up from the ground or a lying position.
    • Prolonged exercises on your back after the second trimester should be done with caution. The pressure from your enlarged uterus can compress major blood vessels and restrict circulation to you and your baby. Watch for signs of nausea, dizziness or shortness of breath when performing these moves.
    • Crunches, planks, pushups and twisting or spinal rotations should be avoided after the first trimester.
    • Moves that involve jumping off the ground after your first trimester should be avoided or done with caution in order to avoid pelvic floor issues or delayed recovery.

Bringing It Together

More and more women these days are choosing to start working out or continue working out throughout their pregnancies. With social media, you can get overwhelmed with the amount of information being put out there.

You want to be very cautious before trying the latest workout you saw on Instagram. Make sure it is safe for your stage of pregnancy, and do not do anything that does not feel right. Listen to your body and modify or stop anything that does not feel right.

Do not stress if you need to make modifications, and do not get caught up on the number on the scale. Your goal is to have a healthy pregnancy and baby. Be sure to consult with your doctor if you run into any problems or concerns while working out.

Happy lifting mamas.

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