My 10 Best Tips For Fitness During Pregnancy

I have spoken to a few pregnant women about training during pregnancy because there is a lot of contradictory information out there.  I want to start by saying that I am not a doctor nor am I trying to tell you what you need to do with your pregnancy, I am just going to tell you what my doctor told me and what I did personally during my pregnancy.  My first tip is to get cleared by a doctor before you perform any kind of workout while pregnant to make sure you’re not a high-risk pregnancy.

Here’s how my fitness experience was while pregnant:

During the first trimester I was unable to train. I was so sick and tired that I couldn’t even take the dog for a walk.

The second trimester at around week 13-14 I started to get back into the gym.  I would only do about 45 minutes of a workout. I was able to do most movements, but noticed that Pull-Ups and Push-ups were getting difficult around 16 weeks so I stopped doing them due to the stretching and separating of my abdominal wall.  I was also unable to do lunges because they were extremely painful on my knees, but squats and deadlifts were ok, so I did those.  I was able to work in the 75-80% 1 RM range safely. If I felt abdominal pressure, I would not increase the weight.

During the third trimester, I was unable to do any work on the rower because my belly was in the way. I was also unable to deadlift because my form was getting a little off due to the belly as well. I stuck with KB work, shoulder work and lots of walking.

Below are 10 extremely important guidelines I discuss with my clients that are pregnant:

1. During the first trimester (most critical during first few weeks) do not overheat! This can cause permanent damage to fetus. Overheating circumstances would be running in the middle of summer, training in a gym with out air conditioning in the middle of summer, etc.  If mom is getting nauseated from the heat, she needs to cool down.  Better to be safe than sorry.

2. Second trimester, don’t lay on your back.  You can do incline bench press and incline push ups, but it’s not good for baby when mom is on her back.  It cuts off blood and oxygen supply to baby.

3. If it hurts, don’t do it.  If anything hurts like your hips, knees, back, then stay away from movements in the gym that make that pain worse.

4.  If it feels good, do it! If you don’t have a problem with pull ups or if lunges feel good for you, go at it! Just watch form and be aware of your body.

5. Always bring water and snacks! After 45 min pregnant woman can get hypoglycemic, so keeping a snack around and keeping workouts on the shorter side is a good idea.

6. Don’t do something for the first time in the gym when your pregnant.  It just isn’t worth it. Stick with what you know and always go with your gut. I can’t say this enough — listen to your body!

7. When all else fails, just walk. I ended up walking 6 miles the day before my son was born.  It felt so good to get outside and move around.  You don’t need to be training in the gym daily for a healthy pregnancy.  If you feel great, more power to ya! But if you are trying to get to the gym just because you feel like you have to or see other pregnant women on social media doing it, it doesn’t mean you have to. Do what feels best for you and your baby

8. There are some old-school thoughts that you’re not supposed to lift anything over 20 pounds and your heart rate isn’t supposed to go over 130 beats per minute, but a lot of doctors today have shifted away from that. They’ve found that women can still lift up to 80% of their 1RMs. But don’t do anything where you use the valsalva maneuver (a breathing technique), pushing down on the pelvic floor, or anything that creates too much intra-abdominal pressure. That’s bad when you’re pregnant. Instead, this is a good time to work on structural movements like one-legged deadlifts or one-legged squats to a box. Try not to think of pregnancy as a time to increase your fitness, try to think of this as a perfect time to work on your imbalances!

9. You also have to be mindful of diastasis recti. During your pregnancy your abs separated to allow baby to grow.  This happens to every pregnant woman, and each woman has a different degree of separation.  You don’t want to make the separation worse, so be aware that Push-Ups and Pull-Ups can cause more tearing in the abdominal wall.  If you feel tension and or a tearing sensation in your upper abs, stop doing that movement.  And remember, postpartum you have to be careful about what kind of ab exercises you do. There are some exercises that make it worse. Avoid any position where your abs are pushed outwards such as the boat position or and hollow hold. You want to do things where you bring the abs back together. You’re not sucking in; you’re trying to draw your belly button inwards and upwards to your spinal cord. The best exercise is to lie down flat on your back, tuck your chin to your chest, and raise your head, and as you progress, the top of your shoulders like a mini crunch. Make sure you breathe out while you crunch. You can place your fingertips in your midline and feel for the separation. While you crunch you can feel the opening come together.  Try doing these in sets of 5-10 reps.

10. Be patient. When I came back, I got really into cardio again because I wanted to get my conditioning back, but when you do really intense cardio, it can decrease your milk supply. If you train while breastfeeding you need to drink a ton more water and eat more calories. If your body senses it’s depleted, it won’t make food for your baby.

If you have any questions about fitness during pregnancy, I am your girl! I would love to discuss your goals and answer any questions you might have. Thank you for being here!