Family Health

The Moves You Need To Know To Keep Exercising During Your Pregnancy

May 18, 2018

When it comes to exercising while pregnant, there is no simple answer. It all depends on each individual and what your fitness was like prior to pregnancy, if you are having a “healthy” one or what you feel like on any specific day during. Things can vary significantly from one day to the next.

However, the main takeaway is that exercise during pregnancy is beneficial to BOTH mother and baby, and can have lasting effects postpartum. The American College for Obstetricians and Gynecologist says “it is safe to continue or start most types of exercise, but you may need to make a few changes.” Here is their complete guide including reasons to avoid exercise during pregnancy.

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The First Trimester

For the most part, you can continue to train the way you did before pregnancy when you are in your first trimester. You may find that your body will naturally slow down and you may struggle to carry on as you were exercising before. Trimester one brings on morning sickness, higher blood volume (making you feel light headed) and low energy to name but a few symptoms. If exercise is sporadic in this trimester that is OK, focus on moving your body however feels good, no need to push the limits!

The workout:

  • Weighted goblet squat — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Inverted/under row — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Front plank — 3 x 60 seconds
  • Weighted hip thrust — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Pushup — 3 x 10 repetitions

Pick a good weight so that the 10 repetitions are a challenge — this may be less than your pre-pregnancy weight choice and that is OK. The first trimester you will not want to overdo the workouts.

The Second Trimester

This is when you usually feel at your best, early symptoms like nausea and low energy have subsided and you (almost) feel like your usual self. But just because you are feeling great, doesn’t give you the green light to carry on as you did pre-pregnancy. There are a lot of changes happening to the body at this stage and the core is beginning to strain under the pressure of a growing baby. Alignment changes begin to affect the core and pelvic floor, and if you don’t take this into consideration then you may begin to suffer from back pain and pelvic girdle pain.

The workout:

  • Pause squat with a loop band — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Split-stance bent row — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Weighted lateral step-up — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Incline pushup — 3 x 10 repetitions
  • Side plank (feet or knees) — 3 x 30 seconds per side

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The Third Trimester

Your core and pelvic floor are the most vulnerable during the third trimester. Just because you can do an exercise, doesn’t mean you should! Studies show that 100 per cent of pregnant women may be affected by diastasis recti abdominis (the separation of the rectus abdominis muscles) in pregnancy and even carrying on into postpartum. This is a completely normal phase in pregnancy, but it should not be ignored. There are certain exercises which will aggravate diastasis recti and make postpartum recovery difficult.

Exercises to avoid after the first trimester include (but not limited to):

  • Crunches
  • Situps
  • Full plank position (unless elevated)

The focus for this phase should be strengthening the core, glutes and upper back in preparation for childbirth and to release tension. Getting a prenatal massage and going to yoga has great benefits, and will help prevent the pelvis and surrounding muscles from getting too tight. You can also rotate in some hip-opening exercises and mobility exercises such as stability ball hip circles.

The workout:

  • Stability ball banded squat — 3-4 x 15 repetitions
  • Band pull-aparts — 3-4 x 15 repetitions
  • Wall pushup — 3-4 x 15 repetitions
  • Half-kneeling pallof press — 3-4 x 15 repetitions per side
  • Standing bird dog — 3-4 x 15 repetitions per side

Happy workouts, mamas-to-be!

Article Author Lucy D’Aguilar
Lucy D’Aguilar

Read more from Lucy here.

Lucy is the owner of an in-home and online personal training service specializing in postpartum fitness and core rehabilitation. She's a stay-at-home mama to an inquisitive little lady and an overly protective puppy which makes life very interesting. When she's not breaking up battles of whit between the two kiddies (puppy included) she's usually enjoying a cup of coffee that has been heated up about ten times. She is the self-proclaimed DIY master of her house, and loves to take on projects and gives herself a high five when she finishes it. You can find out more about her business at You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook.