It’s so important to stay active while pregnant, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to clock endless hours at the gym. There is a multitude of other ways for you to make health & fitness a part of your pregnancy. Check out some top tips from mom and trainer Jaime McFaden to help you stay healthy during and after your pregnancy.
There are countless benefits to staying active throughout your pregnancy, including improved health and reduced risk of weight gain. However, the most important tip I can give you is to listen to your body. Every pregnancy is different, and there’s no one-size-fits-all in terms of what you should or shouldn’t be doing at each stage in your pregnancy! However, here are some generally safe exercises to do while pregnant.
5 Exercises for Pregnant Women
Kegel exercises are important for pregnant women to learn to control their pelvic muscles. In fact, they’re great to do even when you’re not pregnant! They help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and even have tangential benefits such as helping with incontinence.
Ab exercises are important to do throughout your pregnancy and can help alleviate back pain and increase your core control during labor. However, Jaime advises avoiding exercises where you are laying on your back such as crunches to avoid any potential stressors on your body.
Lower body exercises are also helpful during pregnancy, especially during labor and delivery. There are also great postpartum benefits, like helping you with carrying your baby around all day.
Back pains are an almost universal experience during pregnancy, and back exercises are a great way to build up your muscles to help alleviate or prevent pain. Low-intensity exercises like single-arm rows are Jaime-approved back workouts for pregnant moms.
Yoga is also a great way for expecting mothers to stay fit and healthy. In addition to the body-conditioning benefits, it can also help relax your mind and help you feel at ease throughout your pregnancy. Many pregnant and postpartum mothers prefer yoga for its conditioning and mood-boosting benefits.
It’s important to adjust your workout routine based on the trimester you are in and to get a thumbs-up from your doctor before you exercise.
Workouts by Trimester
Your first trimester is usually when you are either feeling completely fine or totally terrible. As always, listening to your body is the most important when selecting exercises. Jaime recommends cardio and normal strength exercises and warns expecting mothers to ease into working out gradually and consistently review how you are feeling to help you stay in tune with your body.
During your second trimester, it’s important not to push your body too hard. Jaime suggests keeping your intensity levels at around 60-70%. Full-body workouts are a wonderful option during this trimester, rather than targeting specific areas.
The third trimester is when your body goes through the most dramatic changes, and it seems like you are being constantly stretched and pushed! If you still want to get your heart pumping, low-intensity activities like walking or swimming are great options.
3 Workouts for Postpartum Women
Finding time to work out postpartum can be tricky. Jaime suggests waiting 6-8 weeks after birth to begin exercising. During those first weeks, getting rest and bonding with your new baby is the priority. Easing gradually back into exercise postpartum is key.
Kegel exercises are important to maintaining throughout and after your pregnancy. However, you should wait around the recommended 6 weeks before beginning kegel exercises to give your body some time to heal.
Lower-impact activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, or water aerobics are also great ways for postpartum moms to ease back into exercising. These can help raise your heart rate while minimizing the stressors that can occur during exercise.
Your abdominal muscles went through a lot of hard work during your pregnancy, so it’s important to start out with low-impact core workouts. Strengthening your core can “help keep you safe, centered, and prepared for childbirth,” according to Mahri Relin, founder of Body Conceptions and trainer.
However, as many mothers experience diastasis recti, a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, getting approval from your doctor before beginning core exercises is a necessity. Focusing on the transverse abdominis (the deepest core muscles) is your best bet for regaining strength and stability after experiencing diastasis recti, says certified pregnancy fitness educator Maura Shirey.
Postpartum back pain is a common experience for many new mothers. Stretching and low-intensity back exercises can help you alleviate the pressure from carrying your baby around all day.
For more in-depth ideas on exercises for pregnant and postpartum women, check out Havenlife’s article that covers your pregnancy fitness journey from start to finish. Don’t forget to check out their pregnancy and postpartum exercise trackers available for download too!