What You Really Need to Know About Prenatal Exercise Modifications

There is a lot of conflicting information out there about what exercise should look like when you’re pregnant. And there’s no one right answer, but there are a few things to help guide you. Your prenatal exercise will depend on a lot of factors… your previous fitness experience and preferences, how you are feeling (which will vary day-to-day when you’re pregnant), if you have any aches / pains / issues, and your fitness goals for yourself long term.

First of all, exercise during pregnancy doesn’t need to be gentle, or below a certain heart rate. You don’t need to eliminate core exercises or avoid heavy weights. Most exercise can be continued, but will most likely be done with some type of modifications as your progress throughout your pregnancy. When and how you modify will vary person to person.

Exercises that involve lifting heavy weights or a barbell can continue, as long as you are able to maintain proper form and the barbell path doesn’t interfere with the growing bump. The amount of resistance you use will most likely decrease as your body changes, and that’s ok!

Front-loaded exercises, like push ups and planks, will most likely need to be modified by elevating your hands to a higher surface to accommodate the increased pressure on your mid-line.

High impact exercises, like jumping and running, may need to be reduced by time or intensity by the 2nd or 3rd trimester. Modifying impact activities now, will help your pelvic floor do it’s job better now and postpartum.

One common misconception is that all core exercises should be avoided throughout pregnancy and that is not the case. You absolutely need to learn how to activate your deep core muscles, and there are plenty of exercises you can do that will help you do that. Make sure to learn your diaphragmatic breathing too!

A few things that should definitely be avoided are contact activities or those with a risk of falling, like most sports, outdoor cycling, skiing, and gymnastics.

Most modifications come down to your long term goals, and can you vs should youIt’s important to remember that this is a season, and will not last forever. If you want to return to fitness after baby, remember that modifications now will be your friend in your postpartum recovery. So it’s important to stay strong, but be smart!

If you want to learn how to lift weights during pregnancy and receive personal feedback and guidance, join my Group Class for Moms and Moms-to-be on Wednesdays.