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Prenatal Exercise

Prenatal Exercise

Shanel Hatfield Kaldahl DPT

Staying active during pregnancy can be a difficult thing to achieve. From morning sickness and fatigue in the first trimester to weight gain and body changes in the second trimester to even more body changes in the third trimester. However despite the many challenges to staying active during pregnancy there are many benefits to doing so. 

Benefits of exercise during pregnancy?

  • Increased energy & mood
  • Decreased constipation
  • Management of weight gain during pregnancy
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved muscle strength and endurance
  • Some studies show decreased cesarean rates

Being 24 Weeks pregnant myself as I write this blog post I can very much relate to the challenges of continued exercise, however I definitely feel the difference in weeks when I can keep a good exercise routine versus those I do not. My tips for continuing to exercise during pregnancy if you were an exerciser prior are:

  •  Continue the things you enjoy as long as they are safe to do so (you were likely provided a list of activities to avoid from your OB care provider)
  •  Find a time of day that you typically feel the best during exercise which for me is in the mornings (I had terrible nausea in the 1st trimester but it never came on until around 9-10 am then persisted until evening so 6 am workouts were perfect)
  • Schedule it into your day and make it part of your routine otherwise it is too easy to let fatigue win (I’ve always been a believer that exercise helps boost my energy)
  • Eat a small meal or snack before
  • Make sure you are hydrated and stay hydrated during the workout
  • Remember your body is changing quickly so each week you may tolerate things differently so learn to listen to your body

Now that you know why it is beneficial, and my tips for exercising, you may find yourself asking what is safe for me to do and how much? Surprisingly, the recommended amount of exercise actually doesn’t change with pregnancy! It is still recommended you get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week, wondering what moderate intensity exercise is look back on my post titled “Physical Activity Guidelines to Help Get You In Motion”. Remember you should also be continuing with aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises. Things that you will have to change during exercise include:

  • Avoid laying flat on your back for prolonged periods of time after the first trimester, if an exercise needs to be performed this way you can add a pillow or a wedge under the shoulders/head to elevate your upper body to a safer more comfortable position
  • Be more cautious about overheating, dress in layers and be aware of temperatures 
  • Be sure to exhale when you lift
  • No maximal lifting efforts (this will depend greatly on how much you were lifting prior to pregnancy)
  • Focus more on core stabilization exercises vs. crunches, double leg lowers, etc
  • Exercises such as running or those that require jumping/hopping do put more stress on your pelvic floor and joints in general, so as pregnancy progresses you may want to discontinue or proceed with caution in order to prevent injury and discomfort

In summary:

  • there are many benefits to exercise during pregnancy
  • the recommendations for exercise duration, intensity and variety do not change
  • there are modifications you will have to make as you progress through your pregnancy
  • the most important thing is that you just keep moving, and if muscle or joint pain is keeping you from doing so we are only a phone call away!

Always be sure to discuss with the provider of your prenatal care your routine and plans in regard to exercise to ensure you are on the same page. As always our multiple pelvic floor therapists here at IMT can be great resources for questions or concerns you specifically may have and it is always worth scheduling an appointment during pregnancy to check these concerns you have out.


Core strength exercises: https://therapypartners.medbridgego.com/   Access Code: HEXQCDG2 


Cram, C. Current Guidelines for Prenatal Fitness. [lecture notes] 

Pregnancy and exercise: Baby, let's move! (2019, June 15). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-exercise/art-20046896

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