The Truth About Working Out While Pregnant

The Truth About Working

Out While Pregnant

I was at the gym one day when I was pregnant with my daughter and a sweet older man approached. He asked if I was ok and offered to walk me out. In his mind, women should not be working out while pregnant. He was very sweet and well-intentioned, but what he knew of pregnancy policies came from 50 years ago, when fitness was not encouraged at all in pregnant women, (and neither was breastfeeding!).

I assured him that I was feeling great and following my doctor’s orders. I’m relieved that we have more knowledge today and can recognize the benefits of exercise for a pregnant woman. But how often and how intense should a workout be for a mom-to-be?


Benefits of Working Out

While Pregnant

Staying active while pregnant:

  • Leads to less weight gain

  • Less overall aches and pains

  • Less lethargy and trouble sleeping

  • Reduces anxiety and depression

  • Increase blood flow which prevents swelling and varicose veins

  • Lowers the risk of developing gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia

  • Leads to easier labor and delivery

Studies even suggest benefits for baby:

  • A boost in brain health

  • Better heart health

  • Lower stress in utero

Working out is a huge stress reliever for mom too and can help her confidence! Plus, moms who work out while pregnant are more likely to continue their routine postpartum. 


Safety First

If you’re ready to keep working out while pregnant here are some simple tips:

  • Make sure you are cleared by your doctor first!

  • If you’re worried about specific moves or techniques - like whether it’s ok to do a HIIT workout - here is a rule of thumb I go by: If I am straining, I don't do it! What do I mean by straining? For instance, you do not want to pick a weight that is so heavy you are losing proper form. Don’t do a move that makes your core visibly strain and cone. For me, I saw this in pullups, pushups (unmodified), planks, and many core exercises by the 4th month. Can you work hard? Yes! Can you push yourself (within reason)? Yes - just listen to your body. Expect to get fatigued faster and your heart rate to be faster. Take more frequent and longer breaks and make sure you have plenty of water.

  • Have a plan. Be generous with yourself and realize this is just a plan, not a contract. There are days where you will need to listen to your body and stray from the plan - but having one can help you stay on track. Simply saying, “I'm going to be active this pregnancy”, isn't going to really help you stay active. I think it is most helpful when we have a plan mapped out on our calendar as to what the goal is for the week.

  • Get creative! The further along you get, the more you will need to modify. Bands, for example, are a great piece of equipment to integrate into workouts! 

  • Choose facts over fear! What do I mean by this? All the misinformation out there can be overwhelming. You don’t want to do anything to put yourself or your baby at risk. But don't just believe what you hear! Fear can be paralyzing. Do your own research and consult with someone who is pre/post-natal certified, (like me!), so you can understand facts.

  • Remember, your journey won't look like someone else’s. Depending on how active you were before, and what kind of pregnancy you’re experiencing, your goal may be to go on walks 4 times a week with some lifting while another mom’s goal may be to lift 4 times a week with some running. This doesn't matter! Movement > no movement!

  • Every day is not pretty, but that’s ok. Some days, a two-mile walk feels like a marathon. Other days, working out doesn't happen at all. And some days I feel ready for lifting and the stair stepper! The point is, just keep showing up and taking care of yourself. It won't be perfect, but it will be worth it.


The Bottom Line on Working

Out While Pregnant

I can’t even count how many times I was told to “take it easy” and “eat what you want” when I was pregnant with my daughter. 

It would have been so easy to sit the whole pregnancy out, eating everything and doing nothing, and totally rationalize it!

But I know I would feel physically and mentally horrible if I chose that path.

Listen to your body, and always listen to your doctor, but you shouldn't use pregnancy as an excuse to give up being the best version of yourself! I really enjoy working with clients to help them find the right balance. Pregnancy should be enjoyed but enjoyed means taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. Plus, the risks of not exercising far outweigh the risks of exercising!

If you’re looking for an exercise plan to keep working out while pregnant, here are 10 of my favorite exercises that are safe for you to do! (These are great for anyone, not just the ladies with the buns in the oven!)

I am pre/post-natal certified, so if you have any more questions about working out while pregnant, fill out the Contact form and I’ll be happy to help!