Working Out During Each Trimester of Pregnancy
Written by: Elizabeth MacDonald
Pregnancy is not the time to be sedentary – sitting around, eating for two, and allowing the weight to pile up. No, instead, pregnancy is the time to reevaluate lifestyle choices and spend 40 weeks (give or take) growing a baby in the healthiest way possible. This includes daily exercising.
While there are certain pregnancy and birth-related exercises that should be included throughout this journey, they are not equivalent to an actual workout. Cat/cow, kegels, child’s pose, and other labor-preparations should be done daily, as they help the body prepare to have a baby, but they do not raise body temperature, increase oxygenated blood flow, trigger sweat glands, raise heart rate, or aid in helping to prevent so many pregnancy ailments.
As a Pre- and Postnatal Exercise Specialist, I work with moms trying to conceive, pregnant at every stage, and throughout the postpartum period. The most amazing part is that they are all in the same class. Yes, the same workout can be completed by mothers at every stage of pregnancy, as modifications can be made to just about every exercise!
There are a few things to remember before jumping into a workout while pregnant:
- It is safe to continue your current exercise regiment as long as you feel ok and you have no complications.
- Your doctor should be consulted with any complications or questions.
- Exercise cannot cause a miscarriage. A healthy pregnancy will continue as long as conditions are right.
- It is never safe to workout in extreme temperatures, push the body farther than comfortable, or increase intensity to dangerous levels throughout the duration of pregnancy.
- Now is not the time to train for a marathon if you are not a regular marathoner.
- You will hold yourself accountable if you meet with a trainer, take a class, or workout with a friend.
The First Trimester
If you were not active prior to finding out about this pregnancy, now is the time to introduce your body to physical fitness. Your body is pumping blood at an increased level, as it is working hard to create a healthy placenta and environment for your fetus to develop. You will feel many changes, including exhaustion, hunger, nausea, heartburn, and many other ailments that detract you from a good daily workout, but finding the mental space to understand the importance of physical activity will help keep you balanced. Allow yourself flexibility to get your workout in as you are able.
There are no limitations to exercise while, as long as you are listening to your body. There are myths about raising the heart rate; there are myths about not laying on your back. The truth is that you can exercise to your full capabilities throughout the entire pregnancy. You just have to understand that your body will tell you as those capabilities change.
Go ahead and run, take a kickboxing class, sign up for yoga, or just start walking every day. The first trimester is a great time to use those exercise endorphins to help ward off fatigue and keep the spirits lifted.
The Second Trimester
As your energy returns, your belly rounds out, and cravings level out a bit, workouts should continue on a daily basis. Now is the time to take advantage of the energy! Obviously, laying on your belly might not be the most comfortable position, so altering exercises to the side lying position or utilizing an exercise ball is best.
Feel free to increase your workout lengths if your body is open to it, and add in deep squats each day, as squatting helps baby find the lowest and easiest birth position.
The Third Trimester
Your belly feels huge, you feel done, and all of those ridiculous early complaints are back again – heartburn, fatigue, etc… and now you feel like you are waddling your way to the gym.
Keep on waddling! Keep listening to your body, shorten your workouts if needed, and stay hydrated. Braxton Hicks contractions are quite common and will prepare the body for labor when the time is right, but if you are feeling uncomfortable, take the day off. Not everyone is running at 9 months pregnant – and that’s ok! Walking around the block, squatting daily, and taking a prenatal yoga class throughout the week is enough as your due date approaches. If you are feeling great, keep up with what you are doing, if not, back off. No one will judge you.
Working out while pregnant promotes an increase in oxygenated blood flow for you and baby. It produces endorphins and keeps you from gaining excess pregnancy weight. Exercising also keeps the muscle memory strong, so once baby arrives, your body can work towards healing faster; and if you exercise regularly now, you will already be in the habit of doing so once baby is born! That means you can jump right back into it once you stop bleeding.
Enjoy the bonding time between you and your baby, and don’t forget to take advantage of a nice warm bath after a good workout!
Author Bio –
Elizabeth is a researcher, author, and content writer for My Baby’s Heartbeat Bear – a leading online store for unique pregnancy gifts and manufacturer of plush toys; stuffed giraffe, sloth stuffed animal and much more. She spends her days as the ringleader of a never-tiring circus; one full of tightrope walkers, nerf-gun shooters, mess makers, and danger-seekers. Find out the do’s and don’ts and other important things about pregnancy on our latest pregnancy blog.