working out during pregnancy – everything you need to know!
Waddling around feels like enough of a workout when you’re in your third trimester! However, up until that point (and even then), daily intentional movement is really great for both you and baby.
Most people don’t automatically think of exercise and pregnancy together, but they make a great pair when done right.
Exercise & Pregnancy
Many women wonder, “Should I exercise while I’m pregnant?” And while many do workout, just as many don’t. What’s the deal?
The first trimester is downright energy-sapping. Your body is doing a lot of hard work, knitting together a precious little human and you’re going to be exhausted. When you’re wiped out tired, it’s okay to rest. In fact, it’s a brilliant idea.
(I think I went running ONCE in my first trimester in my first pregnancy. I was just soooo sick. It’s ok to just try and survive that first trimester – try these morning sickness remedies. I’m not trying to guilt you into exercising!)
But it’s also REALLY good to exercise while pregnant if you can. It doesn’t have to be strenuous!
Your heart, muscles, and the rest of your body (and your growing baby!) will thank you for taking the best care of yourself that you can. Plus if you workout while pregnant, your body will bounce back SO much faster postpartum. (And as I post this, I am currently a few weeks postpartum and WISHING for a little bounce back LOL.)
If you’ve already been exercising, you’re more used to it. If you haven’t then you need to be a little more cautious. This isn’t the time to start training for a marathon! But hey, there are so many options out there – that there’s something for every pregnant mama!
And of course, you’ll always talk to your OB/GYN before doing anything just to make sure you and your little bit are super safe and well cared for! (Please note, I’m not a doctor…I don’t even play one on television!…and so this is purely entertainment and opinion and you need to do what’s best for you, ALWAYS with your midwife or doctor’s medical wisdom helping guide your choices).
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Is it safe to work out while pregnant?
FYI, it’s a myth that exercise in early pregnancy may cause miscarriage.
Most experts agree that exercise during pregnancy — with your doctor’s okay — can lower miscarriage risk and make mom and baby healthier (source).
How Much Exercise Should I Be Doing While Pregnant?
Again, that is unique to you. If you’ve already been working out regularly, you’re most likely going to find your doctor telling you that you’re A-okay to continue. You’ll likely need to mind your nutrition and hydration more intentionally, realizing that you’re eating and exercising for two. You might also need more rest!
However, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that expecting moms spend at least 30 minutes a day doing some kind of moderate exercise.
This could mean a few 10-minute walks around your neighboorhood, some prenatal yoga, a workout that makes you sweat, swimming, or anything else you enjoy. You’ll have to remember that you are pregnant and as such you need to listen to what your body is saying.
Also, with your increased blood volume and hormonal changes, sometimes you’ll feel more light-headed. Stop, sit, put your head down, then drink something with electrolytes and pay attention to what your body needs.
Which Exercises Are Best For Pregnancy?
So which exercises are best for pregnancy?
Ultimately, the answer is simple: whichever one you will do is going to be best for you! The one you’ll actually put on your sneakers and do is going to be way more effective than the one you plan on but never get around to doing. (Because we have ALL done that!) But here are some ideas for what kind of exercise you can do in pregnancy:
Walk to the mailbox…and then keep going around the neighborhood. Or go to the mall and power-walk in the air conditioning (because really, with all those hormones you can get over-heated just thinking about walking!).
Swimming is so fabulous. Light, refreshing…and gentle but effective on your body.
Get walking outside or hop on your treadmill. Maybe use an elliptical or stair stepper. Whatever you do, raise your heart rate. Consider dancing! There are lots of ways to boost your heart rate, and variety will keep you from getting bored.
Light weights and/or resistance bands/TRX bands are great ways to strengthen muscles…just mind your form and don’t overdo.
Getting outside in the sun and hiking around is another way to both gain strength and get some cardio in. Plus, time in nature can be so rewarding!
If you love to bike, keep it up. This is often a gentle, fun way to get more exercise.
Pilates or Yoga
Pilates and yoga are gentle and strength enhancing for the body. They have the added benefit of usually being mentally and physically refreshing.
This is something that was new to me, but it’s pretty popular these days. You can workout at home (check out below!) or consider joining a prenatal barre class locally.
DVDs At Home
And, if you’re like me, you want to keep it home so that you can look all wobbly and crazy from the comfort of your living room! But how do you choose which is the best workout for pregnancy? There are lots of options out there, and here are a few to help you choose.
What Is The Best Pregnancy Workout DVD?
Now that’s a hard question to answer and it 100% depends on YOU, your preferences, and any special considerations you might have.
BODY BY TRIMESTER
This is a great workout set! With exercises designed for your changing (and growing!) body, it’s versatile and will help keep you from boredom. It’s a circuit workout that give you both strength and cardio options. Get the Body by Trimester workout DVD here.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING: THE WORKOUT
Fan of the book? Well, now you can do a workout with them! Relaxed and set up more casually than other options, this contains 6 different 10-minute workouts that are simple but keep you moving so you get in your optimal 30 minutes a day. Get the What to Expect When You’re Expecting Working Here.
This workout set was designed by a Pregnancy Exercise Specialist and contains several different 15-minute workouts so that you have both a variety of workout styles to choose from and ability levels to pick what suits you best. There’s also a 5-minute warm-up included. Let’s get moving, Mama – check it out on Amazon here!
YOGA: PREGNANCY PRE AND POST NATAL WORKOUTS
Yoga is calming, but it’s also not for sissies. Increase your flexibility and strength with a simple yoga routine designed to support your body and get it ready for birth. This is a wonderful option for at home or even traveling. it’s available here!
Benefits To Exercise In Pregnancy
As you can see, there are so many ways to get that strongly suggested half hour of movement in each day. And when you do, your body will be stronger, you’ll have more stamina, and (most importantly, if we’re being honest here) many doctors will tell you that movement during pregnancy will help keep your baby healthy and give you and easier delivery.
Once I read a quote by Ina May that said, “If you squat 300 times per day, you’ll give birth quickly”.
I have to admit, when I read that I thought she was flat out crazy – no way was I going to be doing 300 squats per day pregnant. BUT – now I’ve done labor both ways…. sllllowwwly and very very quickly. Let me tell you, quickly is the way to go.
I delivered my second baby in three pushes. They put her on my chest, and I think my first words were something like, “wow I’m not even sweaty!”
It really threw into the light how traumatizing pushing with all my might for three solid hours was (when I had my first). IF exercise during pregnancy can give you a shorter easier labor – we should be DOING it!!!
Related: Best Labor Advice Ever!
So let’s get moving, Mama…which pregnancy workout are you going to try?