Exercises To Do While Pregnant
Not too long ago, it was recommended women abstain from exercise while pregnant to protect the baby. Now, however, that’s not the case, as experts agree regular exercise is fine and can even be beneficial to both the developing little one and the expectant mother. In fact, by keeping her body moving, a pregnant woman may experience less back pain, possess more energy and have a smoother recovery after the delivery. It could also improve mood, quality of sleep and benefit her overall health.
Of course, there are certain limitations based on both the baby’s safety and that of the mom-to-be. There could also be specific constraints depending on preexisting health conditions or the particular risks of the pregnancy. As such, it’s essential to check with a prenatal care provider before starting a new exercise or changing a routine.
If you’re expecting and looking for exercises to do while pregnant, it’s important to speak with your provider regarding which ones are best. To help get you started, here are some words of advice on exercise and a few types you can perform depending on the stage of pregnancy.
The First Trimester
Even at the very beginning, there are certain recommendations to follow. For instance, if you did not exercise regularly before pregnancy, you should start slowly and be sure to get approval from your provider. If you already had a routine in place, maintain that level of activity as directed by your doctor, rather than increase it.
Examples of exercise during the first trimester include strengthening movements such as squats, pushups and bicep curls. You should also practice pelvic tilt and pelvic floor exercises. Generally, it’s recommended to get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. Appropriate cardio activities include walking, jogging, swimming or using a stationary bike. You can also gain the benefits from Pilates and yoga as long as you make modifications.
The Second Trimester
As you progress into the second trimester, you can continue with walking, yoga, Pilates, swimming and resistance training. However, you should avoid using very heavy resistance equipment and weights. Keep in mind, a workout does not have to be strenuous to be beneficial.
Exercise during this stage can be especially rewarding since the more active and fit you are, the easier it may be for you to adapt to weight gain and your changing figure. It may also help support labor and your efforts of getting back into shape after the birth. If at any point you feel dizzy, out of breath, are experiencing excessive back or pelvis pain or otherwise feel unwell while working out, you should stop, rest and consider contacting your doctor.
The Third Trimester
While you may feel bulky or unbalanced, exercise during the third trimester is still advocated. You can continue with cardiovascular exercises, pelvic floor exercises, squats and some gentle abdominal work. The key is to stay comfortable and avoid feeling exhausted. Generally speaking, a pregnant woman should be able to hold a conversation during exercise. If she becomes breathless while talking, then the physical activity is probably too strenuous.
Throughout the pregnancy, it’s vital you stay hydrated, avoid overheating and wear supportive clothing. Refrain from contact sports as well as activities with a high probability of falling, such as horseback riding, skiing and gymnastics. You should also be mindful of your range of motion as well as general changes to your body. These could relate to your center of gravity being different and ligaments becoming looser during pregnancy.
The Importance of Pelvic Floor Exercise
Exercising during pregnancy is essential, not just in respect to maintaining your physique, but your health long after the baby is born as well. One vital aspect of this is pelvic floor health. After childbirth, a woman’s risk of pelvic organ prolapse — including uterine prolapse, bladder prolapse, enterocele and rectocele — all increase.
Treatment for the painful symptoms of these conditions can be found with FemiCushion and the experts at the Women's Medical Research Inc. For further information on these conditions and the noninvasive support products available, please see our frequently asked questions page. You can also contact us with any concerns you may have.
Supervising Doctor of This Article
Koichi Nagao, MD PhD
Professor, Department of Urology, Toho University Faculty of Medicine
Director of Urinary tract reconstruction center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Director of Reproduction Center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Professor Nagao specializes in plastic surgery in the field of reproductive medicine. He completed eight years of plastic surgery training at Showa University before majoring in urology at Toho University. With his meticulous surgical techniques and careful examinations that combines urology and plastic surgery, Professor Nagao became a Board Certified Specialist with multiple associations including the Japanese Urological Association, the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Japanese Society for Sexual Medicine.