Safe Pregnancy Exercises – The Definitive Guide You Need

Safe Pregnancy Exercises

When you include safe pregnancy exercises into your workout you will have peace of mind. It’s vital you know you are doing the right thing for both yourself and baby.

I want you to avoid unsafe exercises as they can cause harm to your growing baby. The issue I find with most women in my classes is that they just do not which exercises are safe, and which ones can be harmful.

As a result, this causes stress and anxiety as all mothers want to know they are doing the right thing. To help alleviate this stress, you should only participate in a class with a qualified prenatal exercise instructor.

As always, please consult your doctor about which prenatal exercises you should avoid based on your individual current health status and specific needs.

Safe Pregnancy Exercises for each trimester

Is It Safe to Exercise During Pregnancy?

It is important that you discuss exercise with your Obstetrician during your early prenatal visits. They can provide advice with regards to your individual needs.

To answer this question, it is a big YES! Studies have shown tremendous benefits as to why you should exercise when pregnant.

What if You Were Previously Inactive?

Then you should be evaluated before recommendations for physical activity during pregnancy are made. This goes for all women, even if you were active.

If you didn’t exercise before pregnancy, then you can start now. But you must start slowly and only participate in beginner level classes to start with.

If you are using my online program, then my PregActive BASIC workouts are where you should start.

Once you have been given approval to exercise, then you can participate in workouts that are delivered by a qualified prenatal exercise specialist.

workouts for mums

Pregnancy is Not the Time to Set New ‘Personal bests.’

Or push your body to the limits in terms of intensity. If you push too hard, this may cause harm to you or your baby.

It is amazing to see a pregnant woman run a marathon or complete a tough physical challenge. But it is not recommended. You are now responsible for your growing baby and achieving new ‘personal bests’ can wait.

Increasing the volume of your training is not required. Nor is trying to progressively increase the weight on your lifts like you may have once done. The extra strain can cause numerous problems.

Especially on your core! And holding your breath.

You should also select pregnancy workouts that involve movements and activities that will minimise the risk of loss of balance.

I want you to avoid high-impact movements.

And exercises that do not cause trauma to the joints and ligaments.

Safe pregnancy exercise for mother and baby
Safe pregnancy exercise for mother and baby

Pregnancy Exercise May:

1. Improve your posture and reduce back pain.

Prenatal back pain is a common and definitely debilitating symptom when pregnant. Accepting that you have to deal with back pain is not required.

Participating in weekly prenatal exercise plan that provides you with core exercises can help you to strengthen your core and hence prevent, or reduce back pain.

2. Help prevent, or treat, gestational diabetes.

Maintaining a health weight when pregnant is important for not only you, but also your baby. Exercise along with a healthy diet can help you prevent certain ailments.

While the exact causes of gestational diabetes may not yet be known, there are some known factors that contribute such as being excessively overweight.

3. Lower risk of certain pregnancy complications. 

Being excessively overweight can cause various pregnancy complications from pre-eclampsia to higher birth weight.

4. Promote healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Not to mention, it only adds to your discomfort. I want you to maintain a healthy pregnancy weight. Yes, you will naturally gain weight as you progress deep int your third trimester, but it’s the excessive unhealthy weight gain that is the problem.

5. Improve your overall general fitness.

Exercise makes you feel better. It boosts your energy levels in the long run. And it keeps you moving.

Even if you start at the lowest level, you can still improve your fitness level when pregnant.

6. Strengthen your heart.

Exercise helps your cardiovascular system. By maintaining a healthy heart, you are also looking after baby’s health.

7. Help you recover faster after childbirth.

One of the biggest benefits I hear about exercising in pregnancy from clients is that they enjoy a speedier recovery post childbirth.

These pelvic floor exercises help to reduce the severity of unwanted leakage. Heal diastasis recti. Which all lead to greater body confidence.

8. Prepare you physically for childbirth.

I focus on providing my clients with specific exercises, movement, positions and breathing techniques they can use during labour.

Whether it is functional exercises using a birthing ball, or core strengthening exercises.

You can prepare yourself for labour with the right exercises!

Exercising During Pregnancy

Precautions When Exercising During Pregnancy

1. Avoid standing still or lying flat on your back.

When standing you may lose your balance. Also, laying on your back when pregnant is something you should try and avoid. But do not stress if you wake up sleeping on your back; just roll over on your side.

2. Drink plenty of water.

You must stay hydrated as dehydration can cause significant problems and therefore must be avoided. Take a bottle of fresh water with so you always have it handy.

3. Wear a sports bra that provides lots of support.

4. Wear comfortable workout shoes.

They should be well supported at the back of the shoe. They must be non-slip. And try to avoid shoes that have a really high arch as this can contribute to rolling of your ankle.

5. The weather.

Avoid becoming overheated and don’t exercise outside in hot weather. Besides it not being pleasant, raising your body temperate can be quite dangerous to baby’s well-being.

6. Exercise in a temperature-controlled room.

You don’t want cold air blowing on you, but you do want a constant stream of fresh air in the room you are exercising.

7. Never exercise to the point of breathlessness.

Use the Borg scale as a guide (see below). You should always be able to carry-on a conversation with someone.

If you are too out of breath to talk, then you are pushing too hard.

Rest, take a minute to recover and return to exercising knowing you must lower your intensity level.

8. Listen to your body and rest when required.

There ARE times when exercise is not recommended and I want you to know these signs and symptoms >

workouts for mums

Borg Scale for Safe Pregnancy Exercise

Borg scale for pregnancy exercise
Borg scale for pregnancy exercise

What Are Some Safe Pregnancy Exercises?

1. Prenatal Yoga

Yoga is recommended during pregnancy. But only with a qualified prenatal yoga instructor! There are some postures that must be avoided so a general yoga class is not ideal.

2. Prenatal Pilates

Prenatal exercise routines that include pregnancy Pilates allow mothers to stay active during pregnancy. Participating in an approved class can have tremendous benefits for both the mother and the child.

Prenatal Pilates classes are specifically designed to improve your strength when pregnant women as well as assist with your recovery after giving birth.

Pregnancy Pilates differs from a normal class by leaving out all of the exercises that would put unnecessary pressure or tension on your body. Instead, they sub in exercises and stretches that are modified for pregnant women.

3. Walking

Walking is a great way to get out and exercise. Grab a friend and enjoy the social benefits as well. There is no need to walk for too long. And try and avoid hills.

If you were fit and active before pregnancy, then you can walk at a good pace for 40 minutes. Even a 20 minute walk can provide benefits beyond just helping you to stay fit. Getting out for some fresh air can help to reduce stress.

4. Swimming during pregnancy

Swimming is a favourite for many women. Even better, try an aqua class such as PregAqua. The benefits of exercising in the water are well documented. Your body is supported by the water and unlike other exercises or activities, it is non-impact.

5. Modified strength training

Strength training is recommended. Heavy lifting that causes you to strain is not. Performing lifts that cause you to hold your breath should be avoided. And remember, lying on your back is not recommended especially late in pregnancy.

6. Stationary bike riding

A spin class designed for pregnant women can be a good option. Riding a road bike poses several problems especially when it comes to balance.

What about yoga or Pilates in the third trimester

What Exercises Should I Avoid During Pregnancy?

Just as important as knowing the best exercise to do when pregnant, is knowing which exercises you must avoid.

Some exercises, activities, movements and sports are downright dangerous to you and baby.

1. All contact sports

2. Basketball

3. Hot Yoga

4. Skiing

5. Soccer

6. Off-road cycling

7. Horseback riding

Can I Run when Pregnant?

So, if you were running before pregnancy, then you can continue to run during pregnancy. Just be sure to reduce your distance, speed and intensity.

In saying that, there are some negatives to running such as the high-impact factor. As your belly grows, high-impact exercise should be avoided. Try and transition to walking.

To learn more about running when pregnant read this post >

workouts for mums
Warning Signs to Stop Exercising When Pregnant
  1. Chest pain

2. Muscle weakness

3. Vaginal bleeding

4. Dizziness

5. Headache

6. Calf pain or swelling.

7. Shortness of breath before starting exercise.

When Can I Start Exercising After Pregnancy?

You should be able to participate in an approved postnatal exercise program soon after the baby is born. But only if you had a healthy pregnancy and a normal vaginal delivery.

And ONLY after getting approval from your health care professional.

If you had a caesarean delivery, or other complications, you will need to speak to your Obstetrician. They will guide you on when it is safe for you to begin exercising again.

Exercise After Childbirth

Exercise After Childbirth Can:

1. Help you gain trust again in your body to function properly.

2. Boost energy levels as you recover from childbirth.

3. Be useful in preventing postnatal depression.

4. Strengthen core & Help heal diastasis recti.

5. Strengthen pelvic floor + stop leakage.

6. Relieves stress.

Key Takeaway

Exercise is good for you as you progress through each trimester. But only if your pregnancy workouts consist of safe exercises or activities.

As always, speak to your doctor before starting any new program. Every woman is different. Every pregnancy is different.

workouts for mums

Kerryn Boyle
Kerryn is a Prenatal Exercise Instructor. Kerryn’s areas of expertise includes providing women with safe at-home pregnancy workouts and postpartum workouts. From pregnancy yoga classes to week by week, it's all right here.

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