Sharing some of my top prenatal fitness tips! While it’s so important to maintain an active lifestyle while you’re pregnant, we want to do it in the safest and smartest possible way.
Hi friends! Happy Monday! I hope you had a safe and happy weekend. We spent a lot of time at the pool, Tucson got our first summer rain (the best!), and caught up on some stuff around the house. For today’s post, I wanted to share some prenatal fitness tips. (No, I’m not pregnant! #twoandthrough) In my annual blog survey, I had a LOT of requests for more prenatal fitness content. It’s a delicate area because each pregnancy is so different and it’s so important to follow medical practitioner’s guidelines. I thought I’d put together a master list of 10 things that would be appropriate and make sense across the board, so I’m sharing them here!
Here are my top 10 prenatal fitness tips:
1) Avoid the comparison trap. This is a tricky one because it’s so common to scroll Instagram and see ladies with these giant beautiful pregnant bellies contorting their bodies into complex yoga poses or hoisting a loaded barbell over their heads. While it works for them, it might not necessarily work for you. For example, I had a solid headstand practice going into my pregnancies, but something about flipping upside down while I was pregnant felt off to me. I was so worried that I would fall and there are mixed opinions about inverting while you’re pregnant. On the other hand, one of my serious yogini friends was doing headstands and handstands her entire pregnancy. It worked for her; it didn’t work for me. It’s important to remember that you’re on your own journey and should absolutely focus on the exercises and activities that you know are safe and that work for your body.
2) Now isn’t the time to begin anything new. Fitness is all about maintaining during this time instead of pushing the limit. No one will see a new six-pack anyway. 😉 Stick with the things you know and are already a part of your routine and look forward to trying new classes and workout methods once you’re cleared to resume exercise postpartum. An exception to this rule is if you’re currently sedentary and want to begin a walking routine. I’d check with your doctor be be sure, but generally this is ok.
3) Avoid anything that creates a “cone” shape with your belly. When you’re completing exercises, especially planks, down dog, and anything that involves core pressure (even exercises like TRX rows), take a glance at your belly. If it creates a cone shape (you’ll know when it happens! the belly looks very pointy), this means that you’re creating extra pressure on the linea alba, which is the connective tissue in between your rectus abdominis. This connective tissue thins out as the belly expands and any excess pressure can exacerbate diastasis recti. (I have a full post on diastasis recti with DR-safe exercises here.)
4) Substitute any core exercises that involve leg lowers and lifts, or flexion of the spine (like sit-ups and crunches). These can also cause intra-abdominal pressure and also downward pressure on the pelvic floor. I made an entire free PDF with my favorite prenatal and postpartum tips and exercises. If you enter your email here, I’ll send it to you!
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5) Make room for your belly. Little tweaks will make it easier to make room for your belly and the baby. An example of this is standing or sitting with a wider stance in forward fold, squatting with a wider stance, or separating your feet when they’d normally be together (like in barre classes with the thighs together, it may feel better to step your feet under your hips instead).
6) Watch the impact, or at least provide some extra support through a belly belt. For some mamas, impact exercises still feel good, like dancing, kickboxing, plyometrics, running, etc. Others feel instantly uncomfortable — you’ll know when it’s a good time to take it down a notch of substitute. You can also do low-impact modifications for the days when more intense plyometrics become too much (like using a wall for push-ups, walking your feet back for burpees, and doing regular squats instead of squat jumps). For me, Zumba was my jam until I was like 36 weeks pregnant with Liv! I just wore a belly brace. When I was pregnant with P, I craved more low-impact exercise, like weight training, spin, barre, and yoga.
(The human body is amazing.)
7) Watch out for anything that requires extreme balance or risks the chance you could fall. When we’re pregnant, our bodies’ center of gravity has shifted, which can make it more challenging to maintain balance. If you’re doing anything that requires balance, have a wall or chair close by if you need it for extra support. Avoid anything that poses a fall risk or could cause a blow to the stomach.
8) Look out for that pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is working incredibly hard during pregnancy; give it a little TLC by avoiding exercises that cause downward pressure (#4 above). Now is the perfect time to focus on strengthening and RELAXING the pelvic floor <— this is a huge one because many women believe their pelvic floor is too weak but in reality it’s too tight, the muscles are shortened and unable to fully contract. You lose strength when a muscle is too tight. All of my favorite exercises for this are in this post! You can also check out Hab It (they have a digital download) and this video from my friend Jess!
9) Focus on the exercises that leave you feeling energized instead of depleting you. This is a great time to choose restorative and fun exercises that make you feel GOOD. I craved totally different types of exercise with my pregnancies and used it as an opportunity to truly listen to my body. Your body is doing a lot behind the scenes to you know, make a human life, so go for the types of fitness activities that leave you feeling energized.
10) Sleep > fitness, always. If you remember anything from this post, this is #1 (and it’s also true in the non-pregnant days). If you’re totally zonked and worn down, chances are that you won’t get a solid workout in anyway. Take the time to rest, recover, and come back stronger. Extreme fatigue can be a sign from the body that we’re doing too much, so take the time to catch a nap, go to bed early, or enjoy a restorative stretch. Sleep impacts so many facets of our health, like our hormones, immune system function, and hunger levels, that it’s important to prioritize this significant piece of the healthy living pie.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Please let me know if you have any prenatal fitness tips to share with fellow readers/commenters, or any funny pregnancy stories. I have many, but I’ll never forget when I went to pay for our groceries and had to hand them an empty giant bag of salt and vinegar chips. I was craving them SO badly and had to eat them while I was shopping hahaha.
Have a great day!