Exercising While Pregnant

I've been meaning to address this topic for quite some time now, so here it goes!

Being active through this pregnancy has completely changed things for me. It has helped me to stay strong physically, but I never realized how it would contribute to my mental strength as well. There is something to exercise that clears my mind, that keeps me positive, and has helped me to feel better overall through each stage so far.

But, let's be real here for a sec. Waking up first trimester and trying to pull myself out of bed this time around was kind of a joke. I was EXHAUSTED. And the days when I'd get up early to go to the gym, I was so nauseous, I didn't feel like eating anything before, and then my workout felt light-headed and "off" the entire way through. So many ups and downs throughout it all.

Even though there's some weeks in first trimester where I am thrown completely off-whack with 24 hour nausea and extreme fatigue, I know there are others who have it much worse and I can't imagine. I have cousins and friends who get hyperemesis gravidarum where they are constantly throwing up and have home nurses place IVs and infuse fluid to stay hydrated, I have a friend this time around who was told NOT to exercise because of some complications, I know of others who struggle the entire 9 months with life crippling anxiety... we all have different experiences. With that being said, these are my recommendations to get started, but I'll step further into a few things later.


  1. Check with your doctor or healthcare provider first before you get started.

  2. Listen to your body.

  3. Avoid lying flat on your back after your first trimester.

  4. Rest and recover.

  5. Use proper breathing and lifting techniques.

With those general guidelines, let's take things just a little bit further.

First Trimester Mamas:

Here's my best advice: 


Sounds cliche, but I know you get it. ;) We all have such varying experiences, I suggest that you play it out day-by-day and truly listen to your body during this time. Do your best to stay active, but if you are so sick and you can't imagine getting out to the gym, do what you can at home. Go for walks, try low-impact exercise like swimming, try out some of my at-home exercise videos but lower the weight and reps... just get in whatever movement you can and do your best. Don't be discouraged!

If you ARE feeling good enough to exercise, continue to listen to your body. I know there are many who need to immediately tone it down and that's okay! If you have always been active and consistent with exercise, and you're feeling up to continuing on, keep it up. I didn't change anything my first trimester, and my body was comfortable doing just that. I was training hard like usual, and refueling my body the best I could (when my nausea would subside of course). But that's just ME. Training only helped my nausea and other symptoms to subside, and I felt much stronger through those weeks than I did when I had Ellie. Your situation may be different and that's okay! Listen to your body because that comes first! Just know that whatever situation you're in, it's temporary, and you'll get through it one day at a time. Keep that chin up. You're going through something hard and you're strong.

Second Trimester Mamas:

If you have been extremely sick during first trimester and are just starting out, I would suggest starting SLOW. For example, make goals to walk a mile, and then the next week jog it. Or swim a few more laps every few days without stopping. Make small steps forward and slowly get your cardio up one step at a time. Once you feel like you can start incorporating weights, DO IT. There are SO many benefits to weight training during pregnancy (we'll get into this later), but add it in and once again, start slow. Lower the weights and decrease the reps at the start and work your way up.

If you have been feeling good and have exercised through first trimester, CONTINUE to exercise as normal, but be aware that it's completely normal to feel more out of breath and for things to start slowing down a little bit. It can be discouraging (trust me, I'm going through this right now), but you want a healthy baby and it's most important to protect your body from any pain or harm. Here's my rule of thumb: If you are doing anything that is starting to strain your abdominal region or you feel any discomfort, STOP. Just do what is comfortable for you and stay in tune with your body. 

I would recommend to everyone (pregnant or not) 2 days a week minimum of weight training. In second trimester, you have to start being more aware of exercises you shouldn't do... like anything while lying flat on your back. Any front ab-work I find is uncomfortable, and so I work on my side abdominal muscles (obliques) instead. For arms and legs, I am still training per usual and am loving it. I don't plan on losing my hard-earned leg muscle like I did when I had Ellie. My goal is to maintain as much muscle as I can in my arms and legs, while taking it a little bit easier on my core muscles. I still try to strengthen my back as much as possible since I have lower back issues, and so I love the cable machines at the gym, the lower lat machine, etc. All of these things have helped me to maintain strength. So far, so good.

Third Trimester Mamas:

You're on the home stretch, and your belly has officially been stretched. Take things easy. If you've been able to maintain a moderate-vigorous exercise schedule, continue on but be sensitive and aware of when you need extra rest, or when you need to tone things down. If you are feeling a lot of discomfort, stick to things that feel good. I remember with Ellie, the swimming pool during third trimester seriously saved me. Having that low-impact option for cardio was the best thing I did through that last little bit, and it made me feel so good. Hop on a stationary bike, or do something that doesn't require as much weight-bearing effort. And remember, that little angel is coming to you soon, and it's most important that you take things easy to have a safe and healthy delivery. I think the hardest part for me was remembering that my situation was temporary. At the end of third trimester, it can be hard to see light at the end of the tunnel... but it's there. And it's coming SOON. So rest as you need, take care of that babe, and know you have plenty of time to get back in shape when your sweet little one arrives. 

We're all in this together! Good luck!