The first thing to think about when considering exercise during pregnancy is your pre-pregnancy fitness level. If you've been exercising for a while and would like to continue training during your pregnancy, it's OK to do so. There are guidelines for all exercise while pregnant. Be sure you have an open discussion with your doctor about exercise throughout your pregnancy.
Your training will look different with each trimester. As you progress in the pregnancy, your body will let you know what it can and can't do. Since your heart has to beat harder to deliver oxygen to you and your baby, exercise will probably feel harder due to your elevated heart rate.
A training plan during pregnancy needs to be flexible and done at a level that is safe for mother and baby. Pushing at a hard effort increases the risk for injuries, especially in the hips and lower back.
What workouts are essential for each trimester?
First Trimester1 of 4
During the first trimester, you should be able to continue exercise at your usual level of intensity. The biggest obstacle is fatigue and morning sickness. Include total body strength exercises to maintain lean muscle, in addition to building up your core strength and posture.
Second Trimester2 of 4
The second trimester usually brings relief from morning sickness (sorry if you are not one of the lucky ones!). Your gait will start to change as your belly grows. With this change, you may experience low back and SI Joint pain due to ligament laxity and hyper mobility. A good stability belt can help ease back pain as the band gently lifts your belly, taking some of the load off your back.
Lower impact activities like swimming, stationary biking, walking or the elliptical provide a workout with less stress to the body and lower your risk of injury. Continue to strength train the total body including planks (if no shoulder issues), hip strengthening exercises and stability ball exercises for balance and posture. You may also find a prenatal yoga class beneficial for preparing your body for birth--plus, it's great stress relief.
Third Trimester3 of 4
With this trimester you may become uncomfortable with exercise, especially in the later stages. Exercising in a pool, such as prenatal aerobics or walking and running in the water, is a great alternative during the third trimester as some of the weight is taken off your joints. The intensity of your workouts should be low. Continue with total body strengthening exercises that focus on the core and hips.
Remember to always go by feel no matter what stage of pregnancy you are in. Now is not the time to push. Save that for the delivery! Stay away from workouts that will lead to overheating or falling.
As always, consult your physician about exercise guidelines for your pregnancy.