Prenatal Exercises

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Health

Ease into Your Pregnancy

Hooray, you are pregnant! That is amazing. Pregnancy is such a magical time of life, made better with prenatal exercise. Most importantly, check with your doctor before starting a pre-natal exercise plan. While there’s no substitute for your healthcare provider’s advice, we’ve outlined some exercises and general fitness tips as you prepare for your little one’s arrival.  

Listen to Your Body

As a mom, and as a general rule of thumb, learn to trust your instincts. If your body is telling you to back off—listen! 

  • If something hurts … stop! Exercising while pregnant should not be painful. Find a way to modify the movement or take it out of your routine altogether.  
  • As soon as you’re uncomfortable lying on your belly, don’t do it. Most exercises can be done standing or on your hands and knees instead.  
  • After 20 weeks, avoid lying on your back for long periods of time. This will ensure that your uterus doesn’t restrict blood flow to you or your baby.  
  • Be careful of getting overheated or significantly increasing your heart rate. You might wear a heart rate monitoring watch to keep an eye on your metrics.  
  • The hormone “relaxin” increases during pregnancy, which causes your ligaments to relax. This can cause you to easily overstretch, so now is not the time to master your splits.

In short, don’t overdo it. 

Customize Your Workout 

One amazing thing about prenatal exercise is that it can really be tailored to your individual needs. The key is to find a prenatal exercise activity that works for you: meaning it’s enjoyable for your brain and your body. 

Involve Light Cardio: 

To reiterate, be mindful of your heart rate and body temperature, but it’s typically fine to include cardio in your prenatal exercise. It might feel like a lovely release (and distraction) to sweat out the stress that can arise from all the unknowns of pregnancy. Going for a brisk walk is a great way to burn off some excess anxiety. Another amazing option is swimming! The water will make you feel weightless (a huge plus as your belly starts to grow), and you can get your body moving without any added impact on your joints.  

Incorporate Core Work: 

While you’ll want to avoid doing traditional crunches after the first trimester, there are plenty of ways to strengthen your core during pregnancy.

  • Oblique Crunches (standing or kneeling). Hold a weight (5–10 lb.) in each hand and, with control, tip to one side on the inhale. As you exhale, draw your navel to your spine to bring you back to the center. Start with a set of 10 and work your way up to 15 reps. Then, switch sides. 
  • Side Planks (with supported abdomen). Lie down on one side while propped up on your forearm. Place your shoulder directly over your elbow and draw it down from your ear. Lift your side body up and draw your ribcage forward. Hold. Then lower your side-body down and repeat. Try for 10 sets on each side. If you need more abdominal support, place a small yoga ball under your belly. To advance this move, extend your top leg.  
  • Bird Dog (from tabletop). Starting from a tabletop position—with your knees under your hips and your wrists over your shoulders—engage your core in a flat, neutral spin. Extend your left arm straight out in front of you, and let your right leg stretch out behind you. Reach long to either side of the room and hold before switching sides. Always lift the opposite arm and leg so you can work on stability across your back.   

Integrate Gentle Stretches: 

Gentle stretches are a great option to release tension and avoid stiffness when pregnant. For instance, alternating between “cat pose” and “cow pose” is a perfect way to increase spinal mobility. Moving between flexion and extension in conjunction with your breathing can be a wonderful way to ease back pain, too. You might even turn to this exercise to help relieve labor pains on the big day. Look for prenatal yoga classes near you, or you can check out some free options online

Iron Up 💪

Alongside your gentle workouts, the World Health Organization™ recommends taking an iron supplement when pregnant because women are especially susceptible to iron deficiencies. Iron folic comes in easy-to-ingest options and this is one of our favorites because it also contains Vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption and boosts immunity. Benefits of iron include:

  • Increased oxygen transportation. 
  • Decreased risk of brain or spinal cord defects in baby. 
  • Overall heart health. 

Healthy During Pregnancy and Beyond

Make healthy living and exercise a way of life. If you’re pregnant, now’s not the time to start an entirely new workout regimen. But your body (and brain) will appreciate some movement as you prepare for your baby’s big reveal. Consult with your doctor and review the exercises above to devise a plan that is right for you.   

Looking for more ways to care for yourself both physically and emotionally (whether you’re pregnant or not)? Read this next!