Newly pregnant women may be wondering how to keep their bodies in shape. We have decided to create this step by step guide to explain what exercises are suitable for pregnant women. Learn how to exercise while pregnant and the proper way to keep your developing baby safe.
Why Should Women Exercise While Pregnant?
Women that stay active while pregnant keep their blood circulation going along with receiving multiple health benefits for the forming baby. Physical activity helps to keep extra weight off, enhance mental wellbeing, and help improve physical fitness. Let’s go over how to best work out different parts of the body while pregnant.
Arm Exercises While Pregnant
Typically arm exercises make up the majority of a pregnant woman’s exercise regime since they will be able to do less with the lower half of their body after the second to third trimester. Great arm exercises include lifting a variety of 5 pound weights while sitting in a chair or on a yoga ball. After adjusting to the weight you can try a variety of bicep curls and tricep dips with 10 or 15 pound weights. Try easy arm circles with light weights as well since these define the shoulder area. Make sure that you are not over straining any muscles. Using lighter weights and doing more reps will help you to achieve muscle tone without straining.
Yes, it may sound crazy but pregnant women can still do abdominal exercises. Early on in your pregnancy you may notice no issues with working out abdominal muscles for the first 4-7 weeks. After the baby is around the size of a grapefruit you may notice that it is harder to do floor sit ups and crunches. This is completely fine and we have modified these popular exercises to include easy to do abs.
Modified ab exercises while pregnant include:
- Planks on your knees or with a block to support your body
- Glute bridges
- Side planks
- Switching arm and opposite leg and crunching inwards towards your belly (can include a 5 pound weight in hands)
- Yoga ball crunches
If you experience any strain from these exercises you may need to check a youtube video for proper form or to ask a personal trainer the best way to keep your muscles protected while exercising.
For some women the abdominal muscles separate during pregnancy called diastasis recti. Even if you experience this it is still safe to work out as long as you aren’t pushing yourself. Diastasis recti usually occurs around the 12th week of pregnancy so make sure you check for all of your changes and take pictures of your baby bump to document any changes.
Doing upper body workouts while pregnant can help you keep your muscle and even build muscle. Specifically, back exercises can help you keep your posture aligned along with creating muscle that is super useful post pregnancy. After birth new mothers will typically carry their children leading them to cave forward. Keeping a back exercise in the mix of workouts will help to correct and prevent posture issues along with the abdominal exercises. As a tip try using an exercise ball while pregnant to simplify the workout process since there are several variations fo exercises you can do on one of these balls.
Some of our favorite back exercises include:
- Cat and cow (typically done in yoga classes to stretch)
- Rowing with a machine
- Walking with your hands out from your feet from standing position
Doing back exercises and make sure to stretch can greatly impact your overall health by reducing tension, stress, and back pain.
There are plenty amazing leg workouts to do while pregnant that help with stability, balance, and keeping muscle tone. When you are in the later trimesters of pregnancy you may notice the weight of your baby bump more. A great way to build extra strength so your baby bump does not prohibit you from doing daily activities is exercise.
Try some of these exercises for your legs:
- Calf raises
- Calf raises into a squatting position
- Go on your hands and knees and swing your leg out commonly know as fire hydrants
- Try this same position but thrust your legs up to the sky and down to be parallel with your back for a booty burn
- Squats with a light 2-10 pound weight
- If you have machines or a booty band you can do inner and outer thigh presses
Do I need to Diet while Pregnant to see results?
You may be worried about gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy. However, do not worry because this is necessary for the new baby to develop. There are several benefits to eating nutritious foods to a developing baby so don’t worry about eating lots of fruits and veggies. You will want to lower sugar intake as much as possible while pregnant because this will help prevent extra food cravings. A great meal plan while pregnant includes your normal food habits combined with extra vitamins and superfoods. Getting as much nutrients in your developing baby will help them build strong muscles teeth and prevent unwanted disease. It is important to keep eating well when breast feeding since the newborn will start developing an extra layer of immunity through your breastmilk. Breastmilk contains colostrum which carries antibodies from the mother to the newborn a few days after birth. Breast milk also is made up of other proteins, fats, sugars and even white blood cells that work to fight infection and build the immune system.
Remember that a healthy mom means a healthy baby. Don’t focus on this question of, “How many calories should I eat while pregnant and exercising?”, more than you focus on taking care of yourself.
Get a Pregnancy Care Team
If you are wanting help with family planning and need advice that will help you with your pregnancy you should consider hiring a midwife or doula. Midwives and doulas are specially trained to help new and experienced mothers with planning a pregnancy and can guide you through the process. They are able to offer diet and exercise recommendations along with holistic gynecology services. One of South Florida’s favorite teams is Midwife360. They take compassion and women’s care to a new level while having the experience of assisting thousands of pregnancies.