Disclaimer: The material on this blog and social media associated with this blog are provided for educational purposes only. While I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science and am a Certified Prenatal/Postnatal Exercises Specialist, this content should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or in place of therapy or medical care. You are responsible if you choose to try any of the workouts or advice given on this blog.
“I’m Pregnant, Should I Keep Working Out?”
Yes, yes, YES!
Many misconceptions about exercising during pregnancy can make it feel very confusing!
However, in both my professional and personal opinions, this confusion leads to most pregnant mamas I work with to be overly cautious, even to the point of not exercising during pregnancy at all.
I have had three babies in four years and exercising during pregnancy feels like one of the best things I could have done for both myself and my babies.
Physical activity of 150 or more minutes per week has been associated with improved pregnancy outcomes, compared to women who participated in less than 60 minutes per week. (Tinloy, 2014)
With that said, despite holding a bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Certified Prenatal/Postnatal exercise specialist, prenatal fitness, I am not a doctor.
For this reason, I strongly recommend consulting with your healthcare provider to discuss the most appropriate avenue of exercise for your pregnancy.
Every person and pregnancy are very different and your workout routines should be approved by you doctor.
“Why Does Exercise During Pregnancy Feel So Scary?”
Even in a non-pregnant person, exercise is something that feels a little uncomfortable at times, right?
Your muscles burn, you breath heavy and you may even be sore the next day.
So naturally, we think these discomforts are causing harm to our baby.
This means your baby is also benefiting from your workout session as well, pretty cool right?
Not only does exercise help your baby receive more oxygen and nutrients, staying active will also help you reduce stress, reduce discomforts, boost mood and may even help you push your baby out faster!
You started training less than two months ago. You have been consistent but only once or twice a week at low intensity. You may also have limited movement skill and strength training.
You have been training/exercising consistently for 2-6 months and about 3 times a week at a moderate intensity. You have some basic movement skills.
You have been strength training/exercising consistently for a year or more and you train 3-4 times a week. You also have experienced high training stress and volume, understand your body’s recovery needs, has a high level of movement skills.
Prenatal Exercise Intensity Guidelines
Because heart rate responses to prenatal exercise vary from person to person, current guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest the most accurate way to determine exercise intensity during pregnancy is by the ratings of perceived exertion scale.
Your specific exercise intensity is determined by several factors such as how long you have been exercising prior to pregnancy, the specific workout and exercises you are doing and your work/rest ratio.
Level 1 Little or no activity
Anything other than sleeping such as watching tv, reading or riding in a car.
Level 2-3 Light Activity
Easy to carry a conversation and intensity could be sustained for hours.
Level 4-6 Moderate Activity
Breathing becomes heavier, and it becomes more difficult to hold a conversation but the intensity feels like it could be sustained for hours.
Level 7-8 Vigorous Activity
Intensity is on the verge of becoming uncomfortable and are unable to sustain the activity for long periods of time. You can only speak a few sentences or words at a time.
Level 9 Very Hard Activity
Intensity is very difficult to sustain. It feels like you can barely breathe and you can hardly speak a word.
Level 10 Maximal Activity
Almost impossible to sustain. You can hardly breathe and you cannot speak at all.
1. Place your feet slightly wider than hip width apart with your toes very slightly pointed out. Note: Depending on the stage of pregnancy, you may need to have your legs wider to accommodate your belly as you descend.
2. With your elbows at your sides, clasp your hands together at your chest. Here you can hold a dumbbell or no weight.
3. To begin the squat, engage your core and slowly press your knees out as if you are spreading the floor with your feet and begin to sit back into your hips. Note: You can place a chair behind you to help you gauge your movement.
4. Once you reach the bottom, exhale and stand.
5. If using a dumbbell, hold the dumbbell in front of your chest.
6. Repeat this movement until reps are completed.
What to avoid
Allowing your knees to cave in toward each other.
Not moving slow and controlled and dropping too fast.
Tucking your tailbone or hyperextending you low back. Focus on keeping a neutral spine.
1. Start on you back with your hands on the floor by your side, your knees up and feet comfortably placed on the floor. Place the loop band around your knees.
2. Exhale and engage you core and pelvic floor. Slightly press your knees against the loop band as you press through your heels to contract your glutes.
3. Lift you hips off the ground until your reach a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
4. With your core and glutes firmly engaged, hold this postion at the top and begin opening and closing your knees against the loop band.
5. At the end of the reps, slowly reverse the motion as you inhale on the way down.
6. You can also do this as a simple glute bridge by omitting the pulses at the top of the exercise.
What to avoid
Overarching your lower back by lifting your hips too high Lifting or flairing your rib cage. Allowing your knees to collapse in toward eachother Not keeping your shoulders relaxed and straining your neck.
1. Begin with your hands directly under your shoulders on a bench or sturdy chair in a plank position. Try to align the edge of the bench with your nipple line.
2. Make sure your core is firmly engaged to avoid any bulging or pressure in your abdominal wall or pelvic floor.
3. Keeping your shoulders down away from your ears, inhale and slowly lower toward the bench keeping your elbows slightly tucked into your sides.
4. Once your chest reaches the bench, exhale and press through your hands to return to the starting position.
5. Focus on keeping your core and pelvic floor engaged and move your body as an entire unit, not just your arms.
6. Repeat this movement until reps are completed
What to avoid
Saggine or allowing your belly to droop toward the floor causing an arch in your lower back. Allowing your elbows to flare to far out. Moving your hips and upper body seperatly. Dropping your head forward.
1. Place a loop band around knees and begin in a wall squat position with thighs as close to parallel to the ground as possible.
2. Focus on lifting up your pelvic floor with your core. Imagine “hugging” your baby to engage your core. Make sure your back is pressed firmly to the wall, shoulders are relaxed and staying strong through your legs.
3. If using a loop band, press firmly against the loop band to engage your glutes.
4. Keeping the back of your arms (triceps) against the wall, lift the weight into a bicep curl.
5. Slowly lower and repeat for instructed number of reps.
What to avoid
Sinking too low and allowing your hips to drop below your knees.
Arching your lower back. Keep core engaged and low back firmly pressed against the wall.
Scrunching your shoulders.
Not keeping the back of your arms against the wall.
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.