Updated: Sep 17, 2022
A Trimester-By-Trimester Guide On How To Exercise Safely While Pregnant
Discussing Modifications for Second and Third Trimesters and What to Avoid/ Expect While Pregnant and Postpartum
If you're new here, HELLO! My name is Kayley Lake, I am 31, a former Professional Musical Theatre Dancer, a wife of a Scotsman, a mom of an 8 month old baby boy and a Prenatal/Postnatal Fitness Trainer. When going through pregnancy myself, I noticed that there was never enough information about prenatal exercise and clear/ concise instructions in gym classes. I knew that this was something I wanted to contribute to in my fitness career after going through it all myself and feeling the benefits of exercising during this period. I now offer my services to help other mamas feel safe and informed about movement during each trimester and aid them in healing physically during their postpartum recovery as well.
With all that said,
Here are some of my tips for exercising during pregnancy safely and what to avoid!
First Things, First!
Before you heed any of this advice, get cleared by your doctor to exercise while pregnant. If you were not active before pregnancy, it is not the greatest idea to get moving too intensely, but gentle exercise is encouraged. Please speak to your health professional before taking any classes/ running/ performing any kind of NEW workout.
NO SIGNIFICANT MODIFICATIONS, MINIMIZE OR ELIMINATE TWISTING
Once cleared by your Doctor, there are truly no significant modifications needed for your first 12 weeks.
Yes, you are allowed to exercise as normal. Crunches, planks, etc are all okay to continue as long as you feel no pain, discomfort or lightheadedness (and as long as your belly hasn't really "popped" yet, read below to clarify ) . When I was in my first trimester, the main thing I noticed was nausea and lightheadedness while getting up and down from the floor. So instead of getting up quickly, I recommend transitioning slower and taking your time between circuits/sets. Also, start to take out any twisting motions (bicycle crunches, spinal twist stretches or anything where you're in opposition of the midline) -- this is to make sure we don't cut off blood supply to baby and put extra intra-abdominal pressure onto the abs.
(If this is your second pregnancy or your notice that your baby belly is popping a little faster than 12 weeks, I would stop crunches altogether)
PLANKS AND CRUNCHES, TWISTING and SINGLE LEG WORK
Trimester Two - now that belly is larger and so is baby, we need to minimize abdominal pressure on the Linea alba. Second Trimester is when we must put our knees down on high planks and low planks, stop crunching altogether and may need to modify lunges and lifting overhead. We do this to minimize pressure on the abdominals-- which in turn, helps our recovery.
Some mamas experience lower back pain in this trimester and the third trimester-- So, if that is you, focus on double leg work (squats) instead of lunges. Lifting weights overhead can also cause abdominal pressure/lightheadedness so keep an eye out for 'coning' (explained in my pregnancy channel free video) and 'doming' when lifting weights above head and make sure your breathing is steady.
*Laying on your back*- a lot of health professionals will say you cannot be on your back for an extended period of time. This is true for sleeping, etc.
With every single client I've worked with, the comfort of laying on their backs has gone differently. Every single pregnancy is different than the other and no one will feel the same way. BUT as long as you are moving and not staying on your back for longer than 5 mins, doing glute bridges and certain exercises on your back is FINE. Some women also experience lightheadedness while on their backs during exercises. If that is true for you, halt all laying on back exercises.
ELEVATE PLANKS + MORE
During the Third Trimester, all the same rules apply as the second trimester. But this time around, you may want to even elevate your planks on a chair/table or wall. Even with my knees down, I noticed as my belly got larger, so did my "doming and coning" when planking. Therefore, as you get a bigger belly, more intra-abdominal pressure occurs and therefore more height is required in your planks. I used a chair for all exercises in my third trimester. (planks, lunges for stability, etc)
At this point, some women experience pelvic pressure and it's no longer comfortable to jump. Again, everyone is so different-- so you may still feel good doing light jogging or jumping or you may not. If you feel pulling pain, I recommend step outs instead of jumping packs and knee pulls instead of high knees. In my classes, I always demonstrate non-jumping modifications for anyone who needs it. (applies to injuries as well!)
If you want to go into more detail with me or have any lingering questions, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the prenatal and postpartum channel at TravelfitbyKayley.com/OnDemand.