We know by now, that exercise during pregnancy is highly recommended. Your doctor will probably advise a minimum of 150 min of weekly moderate activity. The most recent recommendations include women who never exercised before. It is ok to start moderate type of activity during pregnancy even if you’ve never taken any classes or stepped your foot in a gym.
What does moderate mean? It means different things to different moms. If you were very active before you got pregnant, please continue with your routine and scale down if necessary, if not – start easy – brisk walking every day is a good start.
Our bodies go through a lot of hormonal and physiological changes during pregnancy. What is safe and what isn’t, depends on every individual. Women who are very active before pregnancy have problem with scaling back during pregnancy. We need to accept the fact that our bodies are going through a very quick and dramatic change, which will decrease our ability to some degree. We need to realize that a big part of our core strength will be compromised, dorsiflexion will decrease causing possible ankle sprains and falls, hip flexion and walking and running gait changes. Just because you can do something late in your pregnancy, doesn’t mean you should and that it is good for your body. We are not “perfect movers” we have instabilities that may get aggravated by pregnancy, therefore scaling back on certain type of training is recommended.
Physiological and hormonal changes will affect your performance. Be mindful and cautious. Stick with simple movements, decrease intensity, and reduce weight as you go.

What Are The Changes & How Do They Affect You?

First Trimester

Your resting heart rate increases by 10 to 15, sometimes even 20 beats per minute in your first trimester. How will this affect your exercise? You will get winded faster than usual. This is because your cardiac output is increased by 30-40%. Meaning your heart will increasingly have more blood to pump around.

Your blood pressure might also drop further decreasing your work capacity. You will deal with shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, and even light-headedness. These are all normal, uncomfortable changes. Some women stop exercising altogether during this period, and its fine. This is not the time to beat yourself up. Rest if you need to.

Second Trimester

First-time moms probably won’t have a protruding belly until they are about 20-24 weeks pregnant. This is the honeymoon of pregnancy. Most women have more energy at this point and they get that glow. Your body has adjusted to the demands of pregnancy by now. This is the best time to exercise. What you should avoid at this stage are planks because your abs are stretching and gravity is not their friend. More so, lying flat on your back after 24 weeks is not advisable. The growing baby would rest on the vena cava resulting in reduced blood flow to the heart.

Training at this stage will vary from woman to woman. It all depends on your level of activity before pregnancy. Let’s say you were spinning before you got pregnant. At this point, you should decrease intensity and time to 30-45 min and make sure you eat enough calories after your workout. When it comes to lifting, start decreasing the weight and avoid movements that may throw your balance off.

Third Trimester

You’re now heading towards the end. Some women will experience lower back pain, swelling and the walking gait will change. You will waddle, no matter how much you try not to. It’s time to slow down, rest more and choose activities of low intensity. Prenatal yoga, walking, light strength training; are all ideal at this stage. Even if you don’t deal with pain, you will become tired.

Ligaments in the pelvis area and in general will become lax, your balance will be off (at one point you won’t be able to see your feet), and your center of gravity will change. At this point, your ABS are stretched out, and the pelvic floor weakens. Most of my clients rest 2-4 weeks before the baby comes.
Pregnancy is not a disease, but it is an altered state. Our bodies are meant to move. Choose to do it, right mama!

Safe Activities

  • Prenatal Yoga
  • Prenatal Pilates
  • Barre
  • Strength training with weights* (moderate)
  • Spinning*

Activities Not Recommended

  • Hot Yoga
  • Heavy lifting
  • Contact sports
  • Obstacle courses
  • HIIT classes

Benefits Of Exercise On Moms

  • Improved cardiovascular function
  • Limited pregnancy weight gain
  • Decreased musculoskeletal discomfort
  • Reduced incident of muscle cramps,
  • Mood stability
  • Reduced probability of gestational diabetes and gestational hypertension
  • Possibility of shorter labor
  • Prevents perinatal depression Benefits Of Exercise On The Unborn Child
  • Decreased fat mass
  • Improved stress tolerance
  • Advanced neurobehavioral maturation

Enjoy your movement!

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About the Author : Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt
Ania Schietzelt NASM Personal Trainer and mom of 2 living in NYC. On a mission to find healthy balance through exercise in her life and help other women to do the same, because “the greatest gift you can give your family and the world, is a healthy You”.

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