Congratulations — you’re pregnant! The age-old question of how to properly exercise during pregnancy is one that new moms-to-be, as well as more seasoned moms, often ask their doctors, friends and fitness professionals. And, rightfully so – the research and recommendations on safe practices to use during pregnancy changes. Today’s moms and moms-to-be are an active bunch – some are avid exercisers, while others may be just embarking on their fitness journeys.
As we want you to feel confident in the safety of your unborn baby while exercising, we’ve designed workouts specifically for pregnancy. If pregnancy hasn’t taught your already, overall, your body is incredibly smart! As it grows a tiny human being, it adjusts your blood pressure, expands your rib cage, and increases your blood volume, among many other amazing things…all without you telling it to do so. So, listen to your body! It will tell you what’s too much and when you should take it easy.
Exercise during first trimester tends to be challenging. The volume of blood pumped out by the heart each minute increases by 5-6 weeks gestation and continues. All of these changes, while unnoticeable on the outside can create feelings of dizziness, rapid heart rate and fatigue.
Exercise during early pregnancy is completely safe. But you will want to follow all the do’s and don’ts listed below. If you are concerned about the 2 week wait (2ww) or waiting on a beta test, read pre-pregnancy and infertility advice on exercising during the two week wait and early pregnancy.
Ultimately, the most common concern amongst pregnant women is whether exercising will induce a miscarriage. Exercise actually soothes many of the aches and annoyances of the first trimester, and continuing to exercise throughout the pregnancy can only add benefits to the mother and her baby. 
According to ACOG, women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength-conditioning exercises before, during and after pregnancy (ACOG CO 804).
Before you move forward with exercise, we need to discuss some of the basics of exercising during pregnancy. If pregnancy hasn’t taught your already, overall, your body is incredibly smart! As it grows a tiny human being, among many other amazing things…all without you telling it to do so. So, listen to your body! It will tell you what’s too much and when you should take it easy. But, keep in mind, these adaptations are unique for every pregnant woman and not every woman will respond to exercise during pregnancy in the same way.
Because there are certain conditions that put you and your baby at risk, get your doctor’s permission before beginning any exercise routine.You need to stop exercising and seek medical attention if any of the following occur: Vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions, amniotic fluid leakage, difficulty breathing before starting exercise, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness and calf pain or swelling.
First trimester exercising:
Exercise can be challenging because of the volume of blood pumped out by the heart each minute increases by 5-6 weeks gestation. This major change can cause symptoms such as feelings of dizziness, rapid heart rate and the feeling of not being able to take a deep breath. This can make you feel low on energy, green to the gills, tired and simply blah.
You will probably feel more energized from working out than if you skip it, but most importantly – listen to your body.
The most common concern amongst pregnant women is whether exercising will induce a miscarriage. Exercise actually soothes many of the aches and annoyances of the first trimester, and continuing to exercise throughout the pregnancy can only add benefits to the mother and her baby. 
You will probably feel better than you did in your first trimester. You will start seeing more of your baby bump and an increased appetite!
Try to be more consistent in your workout routine and refrain from lying on your back for long periods of time, as well as motionless exercises. As your belly grows this supine position (lying on your back) can decrease blood flow back to your heart. After 20 weeks gestation – or halfway through your second trimester – this can cause low blood pressure. No need for alarm…don’t spend prolonged periods of time lying on your back.
Into the second trimester, your blood volume is up 30-40% above pre-pregnancy levels. More blood equals more oxygen to the muscles which results in more energy. Does that mean go run a marathon? No, but it does mean during the second trimester you might be able to jump/walk/jog more. Although you should never get to the point of exhaustion or fatigue.
If you haven’t already, now is a good time for core exercises that engage your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor. We do a lot of these in our postnatal workouts, but making sure you core is engaged during pregnancy is so important. In fact core exercise (abdominals and back) is recommended in the research.  Watch this 3 minute video on our core foundation exercises.
Third trimester exercising:
The hormone that allows your pelvis and rib cage to expand to fit your growing baby, also creates loose joints, as well as instability. The loose joints allow for more flexibility, but they also may harbor an environment for injury if you are not careful.
You might also discover that all the postural changes that accompany pregnancy are probably altering your sense of balance. As your belly grows, you may find yourself tending to “waddle” as you walk.
Even with all of these changes, you do not need to decrease intensity of exercise during the third trimester, if you worked out through entire pregnancy. However, it’s important to keep in mind that those things that were easy in your second trimester might not be in your third trimester. You probably no longer need to life heavy weights to do lower body exercises, since you are carrying your own “weight” in your belly!
Listening to your body and your doctor is now more essential than ever. Remember the pregnancy-exercise don’ts – don’t get overtired, don’t continue if you feel a lack of coordination or discomfort. Don’t forget adequate fluid and rest. Don’t forget a thorough warm up & cool down.
Core exercises should look different in your third trimester. These should be functional exercises, not your “traditional” ab exercises, with a focus on the transverse abdominals and pelvic floor. After about 24 weeks you should can lie on your back for short periods of time. Find these core exercises in our 3rd Trimester pregnancy workouts. Or download our Prenatal & Postnatal Exercise Guide for all of your 3rd trimester exercise guidelines.
Sometimes twisting can throw off your center of gravity or put extra pressure on the belly tissues. Therefore you should stabilize the core in twisting motions. You might have heard you should eliminate all torso twisting. But we don’t go through our days without twisting and our exercise should mimic our body’s biomechanics, this is known as functional exercise. If you have diastasis recti twisting should be kept to a minimum.
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 Clapp, J.F., 3rd, and Catherine Cram. Exercising through Your Pregnancy, Second Edition, 2012. Omaha, NE: Addicus Books, Inc.