Exercise during pregnancy offers many benefits to both mom and baby, but you may find that your typical pre-pregnancy workout routine isn’t as comfortable as it used to be. Your growing belly is an obvious factor, but other considerations such as low back pain, pelvic pain, cardiovascular changes, extra-flexible ligaments, and abdominal separation require specific modifications and methods that not all programs offer, and it’s important that the pregnancy workout program you follow accommodates these concerns. With so many changes happening in your body, it’s natural to have questions about what you should and shouldn’t do in a workout.
Before I address the top questions you may have when choosing a pregnancy workout program, I want to make one thing clear: During pregnancy, your body is not broken and shouldn’t be treated that way. If it does feel broken (mine did at certain points during my first pregnancy), following a pregnancy workout program such as LUNA Mother Collective, with an emphasis on strength training, pelvic floor health, and deep core activation, could be a game changer in alleviating pain, improving strength and mobility, and preparing your body for recovery after childbirth.
As a pre & postnatal fitness specialist, I’ve worked with thousands of women over the years, and many have the same questions when it comes to modifying their workouts or starting a new program. Here, I’ll answer the top questions that come up time and again to help you feel confident and empowered as you begin your prenatal fitness journey.
It is important to remember that you should always consult with your physician or health care provider before beginning any exercise program.
When Is It Safe to Start Exercising During Pregnancy?
Right away! It is perfectly safe to exercise in early pregnancy, and the movement can actually help ease symptoms of morning sickness and boost energy levels. That being said, there are certain movements you’ll want to avoid starting in the first trimester, such as traditional core exercises, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
What Exercises Are Safe During Pregnancy?
Generally, most exercises are safe as far as baby is concerned. During pregnancy it comes down to how certain exercises affect your changing body. For example, explosive, high-impact exercises can create too much pressure on the pelvic floor in addition to the weight of the baby, growing uterus, placenta, and amniotic fluid and can lead to pelvic floor injury. Though your baby would be okay (they are well protected in there) it isn’t ideal for your body. Focusing on strength training, resistance training, yoga, and low-impact cardio while incorporating diaphragmatic breathing and core activation are all great ways to exercise safely during pregnancy.
What Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
After the first trimester, or once your belly “pops” it is a good idea to avoid high-intensity exercises such as plyometric style movements that place additional downward pressure on the pelvic floor. You can still do high-intensity, low-impact exercises that are just as effective but don’t place additional strain on the joints (which become loosened and less stable due to the hormone relaxin which increases during pregnancy) or additional pressure on the pelvic floor.
Traditional core exercises such as crunches, twisting movements (twisting should be avoided as soon as you get the positive pregnancy test since it can create pressure on the uterus), planks, v-ups, full sit-ups, etc. These kinds of core exercises increase intra abdominal pressure which can, over time weaken and damage the linea alba and potentially lead to injury-based diastasis recti.
What Kind of Core Exercises Can I Do During Pregnancy?
Focus on diaphragmatic breathing and core exercises that strengthen the transverse abdominis. LUNA Mother Collective offers a comprehensive 4-week “Core Before” program that covers all the fundamentals of core work during pregnancy to speed healing after childbirth and help prevent abdominal separation and pelvic injury.
Can I Continue to Run While I’m Pregnant?
Yes, but there are some things you should do to modify your running practice, as well as things to look out for, especially as your belly grows. If you aren’t already, practice diaphragmatic breathing and begin to incorporate it into your running practice. Ideally we want you to retrain your brain to always breathe via the diaphragm. Master the core connection breath and think about giving your baby a gentle hug as you run. If you tend to be an upright runner, start taking a slight forward hinge at your hips to help relieve some of the downward pressure on the pelvic floor, while maintaining a neutral spine.
If at any point you begin to experience pain or pressure in your pelvic floor, or you start to leak urine this is a sign it is time to back off and swap out running for another form of lower impact exercise. Runners are known for having hypertonic (overactive) pelvic floors which can also lead to the 3 “p’s,” so begin incorporating pelvic floor lengthening exercises into your regular stretching routine.
The LUNA Mother Co app is an all-in-one resource for motherhood featuring a comprehensive library of workouts for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond, plus pelvic floor physical therapy, childbirth education, postpartum support, and parenting classes. Sign up to start your 7-day free trial today!