Here’s How to Modify Your Workouts During Pregnancy
Disclaimer: The following is NOT to be considered medical advice and you should always, always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise routine during your pregnancy. Cool? Cool.
If you're wondering what exercises are safe during pregnancy, the answer is actually incredibly simple: there are pregnancy modifications for pretty much all types of exercise. Essentially, whatever you did before your pregnancy can safely be done throughout your pregnancy as well, whether that be running, weight lifting, swimming, or yoga. Of course, there are exceptions to everything and every pregnancy and woman is different, so obviously, if your doctor puts you on bed rest, hitting the gym to squat or do a few laps is not a great idea.
You should always, always consult with your doctor or midwife before resuming exercise during pregnancy, especially if you have any special medical needs, conditions, or complications during your pregnancy.
Overall, however, the most important exercise modifications you should make during pregnancy are 1) listening to your body 2) staying safe and 3) not trying anything crazy or new. If you're pregnant and have never run a mile in your life, now is not the time to take up training for a marathon, okay? That being said, I'm a firm believer that women are the best source of “expertise” about exercising during pregnancy and they should learn to listen to their bodies and do what makes them feel good and stay healthy because healthy + happy mama is a great start to having a healthy pregnancy.
No matter how you choose to move your body, it's very important to know how to protect your core while exercising during pregnancy. Because a growing baby means more weight on your pelvic floor, any exercise at all that is done without maintaining proper core contraction and awareness could lead to damage to your pelvic floor. I definitely recommend checking out the Bloom Method to learn more about how to maintain core awareness throughout your pregnancy — you might recognize Bloom's Founder, Brooke Cates, for her now-viral “belly pump” videos. The videos are a great example of how powerful the core muscles really are, even during pregnancy and Cates is now totally practicing what she preaches, as she's currently pregnant and expecting her first little one.
If you have no idea of where to start modifying your exercises during pregnancy when it comes to your core, be on the lookout for your stomach to “cone out.” If you ever notice the middle of your stomach sticking up, like there is a small mountain in the middle of your belly, that's a good indication the workout or movement you are doing is putting an unnecessary strain on your core. Stop that movement and focus on core moves or whole-body moves that keep the “cone” shape away.
The best modifications I have found for working out during pregnancy are avoiding moves that are super high-impact, like jumping, or any ab exercises that involve floor work on your back. There are also a few exercises you should avoid for specific conditions or complications during pregnancy. For example, Dr. Codi Wiener, M.D., OB/GYN, Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, notes that women with the following conditions should modify their workouts and exercises as listed:
- For pre-eclampsia or high blood pressure, avoid exercise altogether because it raises the blood pressure
- For vasa previa, preterm labor, and short cervix, avoid any heavy lifting. This will cause you to increase the pressure on the cervix, which could cause the cervix to shorten further or bust the blood vessel of concern in vasa previa. You may just want to walk and swim.
- For oligohydramnios (low levels of amniotic fluid) you will want to stay very hydrated at all times, but may be able to work out as usual.
Do you have any favorite ways to modify your workouts during pregnancy?