If you were a keen exerciser prior to pregnancy, know that your fitness and training goals will shift for the next few months, but you can absolutely keep on working out! Focus on pregnancy safe exercises that helps you to feel strong and capable in your changing body and that make you feel healthy and energized
Your strength or lean muscle mass goals will be more about maintenance than progression. The goal of core and pelvic floor awareness, including activation as well as release, become much more of a focus. You’ll want to gain weight throughout your pregnancy healthily, to rest more and to build or maintain strength without stressing your body.
Your body is changing in the most natural and amazing way. Embracing and accommodating these changes is important as your energy levels, balance and strength will fluctuate. You’re working out to maintain great physical function, fitness and wellbeing, not to progress any ‘performance’ criteria you may have previously been working on..
Choose appropriate pregnancy safe exercises and be ready to modify when necessary. You can exercise as far through your pregnancy as you feel good, comfortable and safe doing so.
In the first trimester you may experience shortness of breath and less stamina. You are likely to feel much more fatigued than before pregnancy, and possibly nauseous. All of these things are normal but will affect your training, energy and goals.
Experienced strength trainers should only do what they were familiar with prior to pregnancy, and are skilled and comfortable performing. No weight progressions and no breath holding.
Beyond the first trimester, any more challenging lifting or strength training risks increased intra-abdominal pressure and excessive downward pressure on the pelvic floor, so scale it down, even if you felt fine in the first trimester..
You’re likely to feel at your pregnant physical best during the second trimester. Nausea will hopefully have subsided and you will feel more energised and less fatigued. So pregnancy safe exercises might start to be more on your mind than they were during the first trimester.
This is the time to modify, progressively lighten the load and concentrate on breathing strategy, pelvic floor and core activation, and technique during pregnancy safe exercises
You will want to use lighter weights now, and your abdominal and pelvic floor muscles are increasingly under strain as pregnancy progresses (due to weight gain, hormonal changes, and the baby’s increasing size). This is normal and healthy and load should be decreased.
Strength training programs in the third trimester require still further modification due to changes in abdominal musculature, the extra load on the pelvic floor, and the increasing size of your abdomen. Diastasis Recti is often a misunderstood part of pregnancy- get the low down on DR during pregnancy.
Time, energy and comfort will limit your pregnancy safe exercises in this final trimester, so listen to your body and only do what feels good, is comfortable and keeps you entirely symptom and discomfort-free. When modifications do not eliminate symptoms right away, it is time to stop that exercise. You can come back to it following postpartum recovery! Core and pelvic floor connection work, gentle activity, rest and birth preparation are the main focus now.
You will be more fatigued and will be feeling excited, anxious (or probably both!) about the birth.