Baby Steps: Staying Active During Pregnancy

Baby Steps: Staying Active During Pregnancy


Looking to do exercises while being pregnant? Learn all about the benefits of exercise during pregnancy and how much you should do at each trimester.

Staying active during pregnancy is very important for your health and well-being. Regular exercise, two or three times a week, helps both you and your baby. Being active helps lessen the effects of pregnancy such as backaches, bloating and swelling. Exercise also gives you the stamina you need in your later trimester and also helps to prepare your body for the birth of your child.

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercise can bring a lot of physical benefits to an expecting mother. Exercise can help you:

Feel stronger and healthier
Exercise helps boost your energy levels and helps circulate blood supply for a healthier and more comfortable pregnancy. Studies have shown that exercise may even lower a woman’s risk of complications, like preeclampsia1 and gestational diabetes2 and gestational hypertension3. Exercise during pregnancy:

Relieves backaches and improve your posture

Reduces constipation through movement

Improves mood and help better sleep by relieving the stress and anxiety

Reduces the likelihood of preeclampsia and pregnancy related diabetes

Prepare you and your body for birth
Strong muscles and a fit heart can greatly ease labor and delivery. Gaining control over your breathing can help you manage pain. And in the event of a lengthy labor, increased endurance can be a real help.

Manage weight gain
As your baby grows, so will you. However, weight gain is a natural part of the pregnancy journey that can be managed by exercise. The goal here would be to maintain one’s fitness level and not expect or try to lose weight through exercising.

Safe Exercises to Perform While Pregnant in all Trimesters

Experts agree these exercises are safest for pregnant women:


A brisk walk is one of the easiest and most effective exercises to perform while pregnant. Brisk walking for about 30 minutes gives your heart and joints the movement they need. It can also help decrease pregnancy weight gain and mental well-being.


Swimming and Water Workouts

Water workouts use many of the body’s muscles. Water is ideal because it helps support the belly and relieves pressure from the spine and pelvis. It contributes to fewer exercise-related injuries and muscle strains.

Weight-based Workouts

Aside in toning your body, lifting weights can help minimize aches and pains and give you strength throughout your pregnancy. It is advisable to steer clear of any machine with a pad that presses against your belly in later trimesters, such as the seated row machine or abdominal machines.

Modified Yoga and Modified Pilates

Prenatal yoga classes are a popular, gentle choice among expectant mothers. Yoga helps improve flexibility, encourages stretching and focused breathing. However, you should avoid poses that require you to be still or lie on your back for long periods.

Types Of Exercise That Should Be Avoided

Although exercise during pregnancy is good, there are a few activities that may not be ideal that put you at high risk of injuring yourself. These activities include:

  • High impact contact sports
  • “Hot yoga” or “hot pilates,” which may cause you to become overheated
  • Scuba diving
  • Mountain hiking
  • Extreme sports/theme park rides
  • High impact dancing and exercises (HIIT)
  • Aerobic exercises/boot camp

Who Should Not Exercise During Pregnancy?4

Pregnancy fitness is great for most new expectant mothers however sometimes exercise may not be recommended if you have a medical condition. It is important to seek a doctor’s advice before starting any form of exercise.

Women with the following conditions or pregnancy complications should not exercise during pregnancy:

  • Certain types of heart and lung diseases
  • Being pregnant with twins or triplets (or more).
  • Placenta previa after 26 weeks of pregnancy
  • Preterm labor or if your water has broken
  • Preeclampsia or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Severe anemia
  • Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
  • Incompetent cervix/cerclage

Warning Signs to Stop Exercising

If you experience any of the following while exercising, stop and call your obstetrician :

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Intense headache that is not eased with rest or medication
  • Muscle weakness/pull, especially on one side of the body/eye
  • Swelling, tenderness, redness, or warmth in the leg
  • Abdominal pain, pelvic pain or persistent contractions
  • Fluid gushing or leaking from the vagina

Being active during your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feel your best. Regular exercise can help you cope better with the changes you are facing, and may give you an easier time in the delivery room.

1 Exercise in Pregnancy – NHS. Accessed January 17, 2022.
2 Exercise during Pregnancy – WebMD. Accessed January 17, 2022
3 Safe Pregnancy Workouts: Best Exercise by – Healthline Accessed January 17, 2022
4 3 Myths about Exercise and Pregnancy – John Hopkins. Accessed January 17, 2022.
5 Healthy Pregnant or Postpartum Women – CDC. Accessed January 17, 2022
6 Pregnancy and Exercise – Better Health. Accessed January 18, 2022
7 Exercise tips for pregnancy – Medical News Today, Accessed January 18, 2022.
8 Prenatal Exercise – OnHealth. Accessed January 18, 2022.
Exercise during Pregnancy – ACOG. Accessed January 18, 2022

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