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Physical Therapy | Personal Training | Women's Health

Can I Exercise While Pregnant?

February 9th, 2022 | 4 min. read

Can I Exercise While Pregnant?
Katherine Stone

Katherine Stone

Licensed Physical Therapist, PT, DPT // EW Pilates Instructor // Center Coordinator for Clinical Education // Credentialed APTA Clinical Instructor // EW Motion Therapy Homewood

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There are many things you can do during pregnancy to help yourself and your baby stay happy and healthy. Eating nutritious foods, getting a healthy amount of sleep, and avoiding large amounts of caffeine and alcohol can all help your body support the baby and give them the nutrients they need. Many women wish to improve or maintain their personal fitness during pregnancy, but there has been some debate about whether it is safe for the baby. So what exercise can you do? 

 

Pregnant clients at EW Motion Therapy are taught to do exercises in a safe, professional environment, where they can better themselves and prepare their bodies as they progress through their trimesters. Our skilled therapists can tailor your treatment plan to fit your needs and goals for your fitness during pregnancy. Even if you do not choose to pursue therapy with us in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa, we still want to advise how exercise is a very beneficial practice for any pregnant woman and their baby. 

 

This article will discuss the benefits of exercising while pregnant and provide some basic exercises you can do at home or under professional supervision. With this information, you can work out knowing that both you and your baby will reap the benefits. 

 

Benefits of exercise for mom & baby 

In most cases, moderate exercise is not only approved but encouraged during pregnancy. Discuss your fitness goals with your OB/GYN to make sure you can exercise safely, even if you already have an active lifestyle and tend to know what your body can tolerate. Let’s discuss the many benefits exercise can bring for both you and your baby.

 

While pregnant 

During pregnancy, exercise can reduce complaints of pain and decrease vascular issues (varicose veins, etc.). It can improve cardiovascular fitness, self-esteem, overall mental health, and help you maintain a healthy body weight even as your baby grows. You also lower your risk for maternal diseases, such as gestational diabetes, as you exercise. During labor and delivery, you decrease your risk of preterm delivery and help your body better handle the stress of contractions, as well as promote positive outcomes overall. Exercise also decreases your baby’s risk of disease and can help them get into a better position for labor and delivery. 

 

Postpartum 

Due to the mental health benefits of exercise, it can help your mood and energy postpartum, and decrease symptoms associated with postpartum depression. It can also improve your sleep and help you lose weight faster. Some research has shown that your baby may sleep through the night earlier, and throughout their childhood, they may have less body fat and score higher on intelligence tests. 

 

How to exercise while pregnant 

When you are creating an exercise plan for your pregnancy, two areas that would be beneficial to focus on are your core and your pelvic floor. Core strength can stabilize your trunk and support your growing belly. Working your pelvic floor can help your body handle contractions and train those muscles so they will be strong and ready to use well after pregnancy

 

If you did core strengthening before you were pregnant, you can continue to do so, but of course, check with your OB/GYN and your physical therapist to make sure you can do it safely. Classes like Pilates and yoga can be great for pregnant women, as they focus on breath and build core strength and stability. Yoga can help your body adjust to different positions. Doing moves on all fours like bird dogs and planks can help with labor, since you may end up laboring in that position. 

 

It is important to work your pelvic floor during pregnancy - if you build up strength before birth, those muscles can recuperate faster after birth. Doing exercises such as Pilates and CoreAlign classes can help build strength before birth, and your OB/GYN will give you the best recommendation for when you can start exercising again after birth.

 

Exercises to avoid while pregnant

Most exercise is safe during pregnancy when performed correctly, but there are some things pregnant women should avoid in their workouts. During the first trimester, you should avoid really hot, humid environments. If you had weight lifting experience before you got pregnant, you can lift weights while pregnant too, but carefully monitor the amount of weight you use and consider getting professional advice, especially if this is your first pregnancy. And for the sake of your belly, avoid exercises with bending or twisting involved. 

 

Due to an increase in estrogen production, your joints tend to become laxer when you’re pregnant, and what was safe to lift before becoming pregnant may not be now. This is also the reason why you should be careful with yoga and other stretches during pregnancy - if you stretch beyond the range of motion your body is used to, you’re much more likely to pull something. You should also be careful with balance exercises, as the change in your center of gravity could put you at risk for falls. 

 

Can a professional help me exercise better? 

Now you know more about how you can exercise while you are pregnant. It is important to keep your body in top shape for you and your baby, and getting professional help to accomplish this goal is never a bad idea. A physical therapist can help you exercise in an observed, safe environment and provide advice on continuing to exercise safely. 

 

At EW Motion Therapy, our pregnant clients receive the highest level of care, as we instruct on exercises that can be beneficial for both mom and baby. If you are interested in getting therapy with us, fill out the Request an Appointment form on our website, and someone from our staff will contact you within 48 hours with your next steps.

 

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