Being pregnant doesn’t mean you’re fragile or weak all of the sudden. If you’ve already been working out before your pregnancy, you can keep working out so long as your doctor says it’s OK (and most do). As your baby and belly grow, though, you’ll need to cut out some exercises and practices. The hormone called relaxin will begin to pump through your body, allowing your musculoskeletal system to loosen up and shift. This will affect your balance, strength and mobility. Below is a quick reference guide referring to exercises that are permissible during each trimester and movements you should absolutely avoid. Carry over the “don’ts” from one trimester to the next.
First, it's important to know the warning signs of pregnancy-related problems caused or irritated by exercise. The American Fitness and Professionals Associates group lists several symptoms, including vaginal bleeding, shortness of breath before exercising, dizziness, headaches, chest pain, calf pain or swelling, muscle weakness, decreased fetal movement or amniotic fluid leakage. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, skip the workout, call your doctor, and together figure out what the next best step is. (via AFPA)
First Trimester Dos
- Your regular weekly workout routine, unless that includes contact workouts like karate and boxing or flag football, and so forth.
- Increase your water intake to 80 to 100 ounces per day.
- Crunches, planks, pushups, twists are OK.
- Use weights and the barbell.
- Keep up with your barre and Pilates classes, and tell your instructors you’re expecting.
- Drop your workout intensity to about 80 percent (you should be able to talk through it).
First Trimester Don'ts
- Work out in the heat or without hydrating.
- Use the GHD or ab extension machines.
- Perform belly dropping burpees.
- Participate in anaerobic workouts without monitoring your heart rate and taking modifications.
- Go for max loads in weight training.
- Hold your breath for long periods (for yoga and weight training).
>> Read more: Surviving the Six Stages of Pregnancy
Second Trimester Dos
- Trim back your frequency if you’re too tired to keep up with your daily routines.
- Cut the weight you use in dumbbells, but increase your reps.
- Slow down your weighted movements.
- Continue machine use of treadmill, elliptical, stair stepper and recumbent bike.
Second Trimester Don’ts:
- Lie on your back for any exercises.
- Continue isolated abdominal exercises: crunches, planks or unmodified pushups.
- Use the barbell for cleans or presses.
- Jump on and off of objects like steps, benches or boxes. Step instead.
- Perform rope climbs or use monkey bars or rings (anything where you’re suspended).
- Squat below parallel under weighted equipment (no more leg press machine).
Third Trimester Do's
- Utilize weight training with much lighter weights and fewer reps than last trimester.
- Run and jump if you can, but at less intensity.
- Whatever is comfortable, taking advantage of yoga blocks and rolled towels to improve position.
- Try upper body exercises in a seated position (light hand weights for extensions, rows, presses).
Third Trimester Don’ts:
- Sprint or run off-pavement.
- Participate in any anaerobic exercise.
- Try activities that challenge your balance or require quick reflexes (tennis, plyometrics).
>> Not sure where to start? Best Workouts for Pregnant Mamas
If you find yourself past your due date and you’re going crazy, stick with walks, prenatal stretches and birthing balls. Your body is about to go through an incredible transformation, and you can’t afford to be sore, injured or too tired. This is not the time to prove anything to anyone, so respect your body's limits.
>> Read more: Pilates for Two (Video) for Stretches