The dos and don'ts of working out while pregnant

The dos and don’ts of working out while pregnant [Photo: Getty]

Have bump will burpee. For many mums-to-be the very thought of working out while pregnant is enough to make them want to waddle back to the sofa for a well-deserved rest, but for others exercising with a bump is a must.

Newly pregnant, Binky Felstead falls into the latter camp. The Made in Chelsea star recently shared a video of herself working out in the gym with her 1.1million followers.

“Trying to maintain fitness and strength during pregnancy by doing small modified workouts but often,” she wrote. “Regular exercise throughout pregnancy has great benefits for both mother and child! Just listen to your body and don’t over do it.”


But though some fans were quick to praise the reality star for her prenatal fitness regime, others weren’t sure if all the exercises were safe to undertake during pregnancy.

“You are not supposed to do hip thrusts as your pelvis should not be elevated above head level. It’s dangerous for baby,” one fan wrote.

“In yoga you are not allowed to do certain moves because your pelvis should not be elevated,” another follower agreed.

So what’s the truth? How safe is working out while pregnant and are there any dos and don’ts of hitting the gym with a bump?

“Long gone are the days when pregnant women were expected to rest on their laurels for nine long months,” says Marie Coburn, Nuffield Health Fitness Manager.

“Modern society has accepted that exercise during a normal pregnancy can have physical benefits for both mother and baby. But, understandably, some mums-to-be are anxious about exercising and want to know how to do it safely.”

Marie says it is important to acknowledge that your body is changing dramatically during pregnancy. “Many of the changes are invisible, but can have a big impact on your exercise regime,” she says.  “From early on in your pregnancy your body produces a hormone called relaxin, for example, which loosens all of the muscles in preparation for your change in shape. This makes your joints less stable and so you’re more likely to suffer a sprain or other joint injury.”

But there are some huge benefits of exercising while pregnant for both mother and baby.

“Exercising while pregnant can help maintain your fitness and strength for once the baby is born. It has also been found to encourage blood flow and strength in the baby too.”

So how do you know how much and what type of exercise is safe?

“Never will your body change so dramatically and at such a rate as when you are pregnant. It is not surprising, therefore, that your pregnancy fitness regime is going to have to modify alongside these changes, trimester by trimester,” advises Dr Joanna Helcké, a leading UK expert in pregnancy and postnatal fitness and founder and director of FitBumpBox.

“Government guidelines encourage mums-to-be to be physically active for 150 minutes a week – few of us actually hit this target. Yet if you break it down into a mix of cardio, resistance work and relaxation it can seem a whole lot more manageable,” she continues.

Some pregnant women are confused by the type of exercise they can do [Photo: Getty]

In the first trimester Joanna recommends taking note of how you’re feeling. “If you are one of the lucky ones who breezes through the first trimester feeling perfectly normal, then my advice is to keep up with your pre-pregnancy fitness regime all whilst ensuring your workouts are of a moderate intensity,” she says.

“On the other hand, if you’re feeling absolutely terrible inside, all whilst having to pretend to the world that all is hunky-dory, then my advice is to go with the flow and put zero pressure on yourself when it comes to fitness. If you happen to have the odd good day, or moment in a day, then put it to use and fit in some exercise.”

But don’t take up something completely new. “Guidelines are clear that pregnancy is not the time to embark on an entirely new fitness regime, unless you take up a form of exercise which has the “pregnancy-friendly” seal of approval,” she says. “So whilst seasoned runners may carry on running as far into pregnancy as they wish (health permitting) it is not advisable to take up running as a novice when you fall pregnant.”

When it comes to exercising considerations during the first trimester Joanna says there are a couple of things to keep in mind, particularly when performing yoga or pilates.

“During the first trimester blood pressure is frequently quite low and this can make you feel faint when moving from sitting to standing, lying down to standing or if you perform the roll-down Pilates move. Avoid these transitions, or take them carefully and slowly,” she says.

Joanna also recommends avoiding very deep stretches and making sure that light stretches are only held for a matter of seconds, while Marie suggests giving valsalva manoeuvres a miss.

This means no movements that require you to hold your breath and push,” she says. “It’s a good idea to reduce the weight that you lift, ensuring that it is submaximal – this means any weights you do should be of a level you can lift for 15 repetitions or more with good form.”

When it comes to your exercise regime in the second trimester, certain elements may need to be adapted. “Exercises that involve lying on your back are inadvisable because the growing weight of your baby pressing down on an artery can cause faintness,” says Joanna. “Resisted abdominal exercises such as sit-ups, planks, V-sits, crunches and side-planks are no longer relevant because the out layers of the abdominals need to be allowed to stretch in all directions and lengthen so as to allow room for your growing baby,” she continues.

According to Joanna, the final trimester is all about getting to that finishing line. “Many of us feel heavy, uncomfortable and somehow time seems to drag on. So fitness in the third trimester should be all about making you more comfortable, less achy and it should also help prepare you for the birth,” she says.

Marie says that prone or supine (laying on your front or back) exercises should be avoided in the third trimester. “When you lie on your back or front your bump can put pressure on the vena cava, the vein that carries blood from the lower part of your body to the heart,” she says.

“During the final trimester exercises involving balance and agility may become difficult due to the changes in posture and centre of gravity, so care should be taken to adapt any exercises involving these things,” Marie continues.

Remember every pregnancy is different so its important to seek specific advice from your midwife or health professional before embarking on any fitness regime.

Would you workout while pregnant? Let us know @YahooStyleUK

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