Safe And Effective Workouts For Pregnant Women

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph July 26, 2023
Updated 2023/07/26 at 1:48 PM
workout tips for pregnant women

You’ll always remember the intense emotions that surged through you when you witnessed the appearance of those blue or pink lines, whether it was excitement or pure panic.

Now that you’re expecting, you might be contemplating what adjustments are necessary and what aspects can remain unchanged.

The great news is that maintaining an active lifestyle is highly recommended throughout the entire 9-month journey.

Whether you wish to stick to your existing exercise regimen or embark on a new one, we have all the information you need to stay fit during your pregnancy. We cover a wide range of activities, including cardio, strength training, stretching, and core exercises.

If you were someone who loved working out before getting pregnant or if you didn’t exercise at all, you might be curious about the safety of exercising during pregnancy and which activities are permissible.

With contradictory opinions from family, friends, and online influencers promoting potentially harmful exercise practices for pregnant women, it can be challenging to distinguish between inaccurate information and trustworthy, research-based recommendations for prenatal exercise.

Advantages Of Working Out While Pregnant:

If you believe that exercise is only about fitting into smaller clothes, it’s important to change your perspective and priorities now that you’re pregnant.

As per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), engaging in physical activity during pregnancy can reduce the likelihood of:

  • Giving birth prematurely
  • Undergoing a cesarean birth
  • Experiencing excessive weight gain
  • Developing gestational diabetes or hypertensive disorders like preeclampsia
  • Having a lower birth weight for the baby.

Additionally, it serves as a great method for:

  • sustaining bodily fitness
  • alleviating discomfort in the lower back (especially during pregnancy)
  • addressing symptoms associated with depression and anxiety
  • diminishing stress levels
  • enhancing recovery after giving birth

specific exercises can be incorporated during each trimester to support the body as it undergoes physical transformations, leading to a smoother reentry into exercise routines after childbirth.

Safe And Effective Workouts For Pregnant Women

While most exercises can be continued throughout all three trimesters, it’s important to modify and reduce the intensity as necessary to enhance strength, stability, and physical adaptability as your body undergoes changes.

Considering this, here are some general safety guidelines recommended by the ACOG for exercising during pregnancy:

Consult your doctor for clearance if you are new to exercise or have any health conditions that may make exercise unsuitable for you.

Stay Hydrated By Drinking Ample Water :

Wear supportive attire, such as a supportive sports bra or belly band, to provide adequate support during exercise.

Avoid overheating, especially during the first trimester, as it may pose risks to you and your baby.

Refrain from lying flat on your back for prolonged periods, particularly during the third trimester, as it can impede blood flow.

Steer clear of contact sports and hot yoga, as they may pose potential risks to your safety and the well-being of your pregnancy.

Pelvic Twist:

Lie down on your back, bending your knees and keeping your feet flat on the ground, positioned at a distance similar to the width of your hips.

Prepare by taking a deep breath in and contracting your pelvis (also known as your “hips”) as you exhale to leave a mark of your spine on the floor.

Maintain this contracted position as you continue exhaling and gradually roll your spine off the floor, lifting it up one vertebra at a time.

Stop When You Reach Your Shoulder Blades.

At the peak of the movement, inhale, and then exhale as you slowly lower your body back down, placing each vertebra individually onto the floor until you return to the starting position with your pelvis (or “hips”).

Perform 12 to 15 repetitions. For an additional challenge, bring your legs together completely.

Pelvic Support:

Throughout pregnancy, it is recommended to follow these instructions unless you experience pelvic floor symptoms such as painful sexual intercourse or a sudden urge to urinate.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet resting flat on the ground, keeping them about hip-width apart.

Position your pelvis and lower back in a “neutral” alignment. To achieve this, ensure that you are resting on the back of your pelvis and creating a slight arch in your lower back (your back should not be pressed against the floor).

Inhale to prepare, and then exhale as you gently contract your pelvic floor muscles by closing the openings of the urethra, vagina, and anus. Pay attention to how your lower abdominal muscles naturally engage during this contraction.

Simultaneously activate your lower abdominal muscles with the Kegel contraction. Inhale, release the tension in your abs and pelvic floor and exhale to repeat the contraction.

Perform 2 sets of 8 to 15 repetitions, holding each contraction for 3 to 5 seconds. You can do this routine once or twice a day.

Push-Ups On The Knees:

The objective of this exercise is to enhance the strength of your core and upper body simultaneously.

Begin by lying on your belly, and then rise onto your hands and knees, ensuring that your knees remain positioned behind your hips.

Engage your abdominal muscles by pulling them in (known as the pelvic brace), and gradually lower your chest towards the ground as you inhale.

Exhale As You Push Yourself Back Up:

Commence with 6 to 10 repetitions and progressively increase the number to 20 to 24 reps.

Squats:

During the first trimester of pregnancy, it is recommended to engage in squats as part of your exercise routine. If you have access to a gym, utilizing the leg press machine is also an option. Squats, particularly bodyweight squats, can be safely performed throughout the entirety of your pregnancy.

In addition, squats effectively strengthen the muscles in your lower body, including the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. By maintaining the strength of these muscles, you can protect your back and rely on your legs rather than your back when lifting objects, as advised by Jeffcoat.

To perform squats correctly, position yourself in front of a couch with your back facing it. Begin with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, using the couch as a reference to maintain proper form.

Lower yourself into a squatting position, as if you were about to sit on the couch, but rise back up just before your thighs make contact with it. It is important to maintain a slow descent of 5 seconds and a 3-second ascent.

Remember to exhale as you squat down and inhale as you stand back up. Aim to complete 2 sets of 15 to 20 repetitions.

Bench Presses:

This straightforward but effective exercise is highly recommended during pregnancy. Incorporate bicep curls into your exercise program to get your arms ready for carrying and raising your kid all the time. To perform this exercise, take hold of 5- to 10-pound dumbbells and position yourself with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent.

  • Exhale as you gradually flex your elbows, bringing the dumbbells closer to your shoulders.
  • After taking a breath, carefully drop the weights again.
  • The dumbbells should be raised and lowered in 3 and 5 seconds, respectively.
  • complete two sets of ten to fifteen repetitions each.

Recti Diastasis Repair:

Your head, shoulders, and back should be supported by a pillow as you lay on your back. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and flat feet.

Use a crib or twin sheet, roll it to about 3 to 4 inches wide, and position it on your lower back, above your pelvis and below your ribs.

Take hold of the sheet and cross it once over your abdomen. Then, grip the sides so that the sheet forms an X shape as you pull on each side.

Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, press your back flat against the floor while lifting your head and shoulders off the pillow. Throughout this movement, gently tighten the sheet around your abdomen to provide support for your abs.

Inhale and lower yourself back down, then repeat this motion 10 to 20 times. If you experience discomfort in your neck or shoulders, start with 10 repetitions and gradually increase.

Perform This Exercise Twice A Day.

In addition to the above exercise, here are some other low-weight or bodyweight-only strength training exercises to focus on during the third trimester:

Bodyweight squats or sumo squats with a wider stance to enhance your base of support (if you’re not experiencing pelvic pain).

Standing shoulder press with light weights.

Bicep curls with light weights.

Wall pushups.

Modified planks.

Tricep kickbacks with light weights.

Conclusion:

Engaging in regular physical activity throughout pregnancy has advantages for both the mother and the baby. By incorporating exercise into your routine on most days of the week, you can maintain a strong core, keep your muscles in good condition, and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. Additionally, exercising can have a positive impact on your mental well-being by releasing endorphins, which is great news!

Remember to pay attention to your body’s signals and cease any exercise that causes discomfort or pain. It is always recommended to consult with your doctor if you have any inquiries or worries regarding how your body is reacting to your exercise regimen.

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