Here’s the lowdown on being pregnant and fit — from getting started to staying motivated.
First things first, always consult with your medical doctor when deciding if it’s okay to workout during your pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, every mom is different, and there may be reasons why your doctor will not allow you to exercise. Generally speaking, if you are not a high-risk pregnancy or have a concerning medical issue most MDs will clear you to workout, but check with them first!
Exercise is not only safe during most pregnancies, it can actually help stabilize common discomforts and often make the labor process shorter. Working out can also boost your energy, improve your mood, help you sleep, and prepare you for childbirth by strengthening the necessary muscle groups used in labor. Research suggests that exercise can also lower your risk for gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women without complications workout 30 minutes per day at moderate intensity 3-5 days per week. The ideal workout will get your blood pumping, keep you limber, and control weight gain without putting you and your baby’s body in harm’s way.
Listen to your Body
It’s just as important to your health to listen to your internal compass as it is to exercise. Chances are if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Being pregnant and fit does not mean you should sacrifice safety.
Here are some facts that will be your reinforcements while working out with a bump:
- Avoid working out to the point of exhaustion. A good test for this: you should always be able to carry a conversation while training.
- Don’t continue to work out if you feel faint, dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or notice spotting. Immediately stop your exercise.
- Movements to avoid: jumping, twisting, sprinting, or lying flat on your stomach or back after 20 weeks. No excess pressure on your spine and do not compress the abdomen after this point in time.
- Exercise in a temperature-controlled environment! Avoid an outdoor workout if you know you’ll overheat.
- Don’t perform heavy compound movements (especially in the third trimester) because your body is malleable. Your ligaments, joints, and muscles are at risk.
- Avoid all-new movements. Now is not the time to take up skiing or snowboarding. Your center of gravity is off.
- Don’t invert your body (go upside down) for any reason.
- Cross contact sports off the list for the foreseeable future.
Warning signs to watch for*:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Increased shortness of breath before you start exercising
- Chest pain
- Painful uterine contractions that continue after rest
- Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
- Calf pain or swelling
- Muscle weakness affecting balance
*If you experience any of the above symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
Baby, let’s move! Here are some tips to keep in mind as you get moving:
- Become familiar with Piston Breathing. There is a good tutorial here.
- Inhale during loading, exhale during burst movement
- Stick with low impact exercises and modify all intense movements. Take breaks as needed.
- Moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day is recommended.
- Stay cool and drink plenty of water. Overheating can be dangerous for the baby so be sure to drink plenty of H20 before, during, and after exercise.
- Focus on strength training rather than intense cardio.
- Stretch before and after exercise, shortened “tight” muscles will get uncomfortable as your belly starts to grow + this will help alleviate lower back pain.
- Wear what makes you most comfortable.
Again, always consult with your medical doctor when deciding if it’s okay to workout during your pregnancy. Every pregnancy is different, every mom is different, and there may be reasons why your doctor will not allow you to exercise. Generally speaking, if you are not a high-risk pregnancy or have a concerning medical issue most MDs will clear you to workout, but check with them first!
Additional Resources to help on your journey to being pregnant and fit
At-home zero equipment workouts
Coffee & Kettlebells Episode: How I prioritize my Prenatal Health
Coffee & Kettlebells Episode: Reframing what Fit Motherhood looks like with Emily Breeze