Pregnancy Exercise

How to exercise safely in each trimester in your pregnancy

In this blog find out how to adapt your exercise at each trimester to make sure you are exercising safely.

Exercising in the first trimester – 0 to 12 weeks

You don’t look pregnant yet but your baby is very busy. Trimester one is an important time as your baby’s major organs are forming so it is important that you are not overheating or doing any exercise that could cause you to overheat. So, skip the high intensity exercise class that makes you hot and sweaty and avoid the spa and sauna afterwards.

Miscarriage

As the weeks progress, the risk of miscarriage decreases. If you have no prior history of miscarriage or you are not at risk of miscarriage, you can continue sensible exercise during the first trimester. If you are at an increased risk of miscarriage, you should avoid all exercise until your doctor gives you the all clear to start exercising. This is usually in the second trimester when you’re out of the danger period.

If you have been inactive before becoming pregnant, but you are otherwise well and would like to start exercising, make sure you take it easy, starting with very gentle exercises.

In the first trimester it is important that you take the time to enjoy your pregnancy and listen to your body as there may be times when rest is best.

First trimester basics

  • Avoid exercise if there is an identified risk or past history of miscarriage.
  • Continue modified exercise if you have been exercising before becoming pregnant.
  • Prevent your body from overheating by keeping exercise at a moderate intensity and avoiding feeling hot, short of breath, sweaty or exhausted.
  • Get started on your pelvic floor, posture and core stability exercises.
  • Choose low-impact exercise to minimize stress on vulnerable joints and your pelvic floor.
  • Achieve a balance with work, exercise and rest.
  • There has never been a better time to listen to your body.

Exercising in the second trimester – 12 to 28 weeks

During the second trimester your body will start to change and your abdomen will start to expand. With this comes altered posture, lengthened abdominal muscles and an increased load on your pelvic floor and joints, especially those below the waist.

You may start to notice pregnancy related discomforts such as lower back pain or gastric reflux, all of which need to be accommodated in your exercise plan and daily activities. You may feel more energized now that you are out of the first trimester, but it is still important to keep your exercise at a sensible level, ensuring it is gentle and low impact in the interest of looking after your baby, joints and pelvic floor.

Don’t exercise lying down on your back

From 16 weeks onwards you must stop any exercise that requires you to lie on your back. It is also at around 16 weeks when you may notice small butterfly-like flutters, the first sensations of your baby moving.

Second Semester Basics

  • Continue pregnancy-appropriate exercise that suits your changing shape and situation.
  • Mix low-impact fitness and strength training with pregnancy specifics, such as pelvic floor and core strengthening.
  • Pay particular attention to correcting and strengthening your posture.
  • Avoid lying on your back during exercise from 16 weeks onwards.
  • Avoid prolonged stationery standing.
  • Have any new concerns assessed by your doctor and modify your exercise accordingly.

Exercising in the second trimester – 12 to 28 weeks

You may start to feel very tired in the third trimester. As your baby grows and his or her organs mature during this time your body will change even more, placing extra demand on your joints, posture and pelvic floor. With the extra space that your growing baby is taking up you might notice that you are more prone to shortness of breath. But as your baby moves downwards into your pelvis in preparation for delivery, you may experience relief in your breathing as pressure is taken off your lungs and a new heaviness forms in your pelvis where your baby has moved to.

Exercise is still important in the third trimester, but you must select your exercise carefully to avoid aggravating or causing additional aches and pains. If you are having baby number two or three, looking after your toddler may be keeping you active enough. Putting your feet up on the couch and practicing some relaxation techniques in preparation for labour might be more beneficial than exercising during this time.

Third trimester basics

  • Continue with moderate exercise, but within your comfort range.
  • If you feel well, you can continue to exercise throughout your pregnancy.
  • Concentrate on your core and pelvic floor.
  • Avoid stressing your back or pelvis and try positions that take the load off these areas, e.g. kneeling on all fours.
  • Continue to monitor your body and adapt your exercise for changes.
  • If you have any concerns, speak to your doctor.
  • Labour preparation exercises and relaxation can be added to your fitness program now to prepare for labour and birth.

Follow my blog and YouTube channel for most videos on how to exercise safely during pregnancy as well as pregnancy exercise videos.

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