Prenatal Exercises: Everything a Pregnant Women Should Know

Prenatal Exercises For Pregnant Women

The confirmation of pregnancy brings a lot of responsibilities. You will have to take care of yourself as well as of your baby in the womb. You will have to eat a healthy diet so that your baby get all the nutrients. Apart from a diet you will have to do some physical activity to prepare your body for labor. Prenatal exercise will also help boost your mind and also cure the pain and aches. If you are expecting a baby for the first time, you might not be knowing much about prenatal exercises. So don’t worry, continue reading this article, as I have tried to incorporate everything related to prenatal exercises.

Prenatal Exercises

What are Prenatal Exercises?

The purest and the blessed feeling in the world is to become a mother. A new soul is on its way. A life within a life is blooming. The journey is crucial and the feeling is extraordinary because you are nurturing a growing fetus in your womb.The most vital things in the pregnancy include proper diet and proper exercise.

Prenatal exercises are those exercises which a pregnant women can do in her pregnancy. Doing prenatal exercises on a regular basis keeps both of you in good health. It also keeps you in good shape. These exercises are not out of the world exercises, but some common and easy exercises that we prefer to do stay fit even in our non pregnancy days.

You must engage yourself in daily exercises. Pregnancy exercises are not only effective but also it is an important ladder of achieving an active and healthy lifestyle.

Prenatal Exercises Benefits

You expect a healthy baby, right? Therefore, prenatal exercises are extremely significant if you want to maintain yourself and the baby in good shape. There are a bunch of benefits of exercise during pregnancy. Prenatal workouts are very effective in various ways.

  • It keeps your body in good shape and helps you to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • It assists you to cope up with the labor and makes childbirth easier.
  • It reduces bloating, swelling, and eases constipation.
  • It reduces stress, boosts your mood and energy level.
  • It reduces fatigue and morning sickness.
  • It promotes sleep and reduces anxiety.
  • It improves fitness, strength, stamina, and muscle tone.
  • It lessens several pre-labor complications.
  • It enhances body circulation.
  • It stimulates post-delivery recovery.
  • It lowers backache and pelvic pain.
  • It enhances mental and physical well-being.
  • It lowers the risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia,  cesarean delivery, haemorrhoids, and health-related complications.

How much exercise should I do during pregnancy?

Doing workout during pregnancy is wonderful but you should limit its extent. Ideally, you should not do strenuous exercises during pregnancy. It has thresholds and you should strictly follow that. You should precisely maintain how much exercise you are doing during pregnancy day-to-day.

Most studies reflect that you should do at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. You should mainly engage yourself in low impact and moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Moderate intensity exercises mean you are engaging your body muscles to move in a rhythmic way.

Moderate intensity aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, dancing, yoga, physical activities, and several other exercises. Barely, you have to work out 20-30 minutes a day. You can break your 30 minutes workouts into several fragments and perform them at an interval.

Start with 5 to 10 minutes of workout in a day. Initially, don’t put much strain on yourself. Begin with light exercises and then slowly and gradually intensify the duration. Once you are in the flow then continue with 20-30 minutes exercise every day.

You should never do such exercises that cause dehydration, lead to overheating, and even which put excessive strain on your joints and muscles.

Prenatal Exercises Equipments

You must have accurate and selective pieces of equipment. If you are not comfortable to go outside then you can buy a treadmill. A recumbent bike is also a good choice. Apart from it, you should buy proper fitting cloth, supportive footwear, a comfortable yoga mat, and an appropriate weight-bearing dumbbell.

Prenatal Exercises For Each Trimester

Types of exercises and ways of doing them must vary from one trimester to another. You should be specific regarding exercises in each trimester. Low impact exercises like yoga, swimming, and walking can fit into any of the trimesters. Doing breathing exercises are very beneficial. There is no substitute for medication. Doing meditation on a regular basis will automatically give rise to positive energy.

 Prenatal exercises for the first trimester:

Here comes the initial phase of your pregnancy. You should build a good exercising habit from this phase onwards. During early pregnancy, you should start with low impact exercises like walking, swimming, and yoga. Doing minor energetic exercises in this phase is often appropriate. Here are some best-recommended exercises for your first trimester-

  • Kegels: Pelvic muscle exercises (PME) or Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle. It can reduce or eliminate episodes of incontinence. It can be preferred anytime, anywhere, sitting or standing, and even when voiding. It can reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.
  • Water aerobics: Swimming and other water aerobics can improve blood circulation. It encourages muscle development.
  • Walking and Jogging: Before walking or jogging, you should put on a proper fitting cloth and wear supportive shoes.
  • Yoga or Pilates: You should practice yoga. It brings peace of mind, reduces stress and anxiety. This will ultimately help you to reduce your back pain associated with your weight gain. But you must not engage yourself in strenuous yoga exercises which include backbend, abdominal twists, and raising legs above heads. It improves posture, breathing muscles, and builds core strength.
  • Cycling and low impact weight lifting: You can do cycling using a stationary bike. Always keep in mind that while doing weight lifting you must avoid laying on your back, avoid heavy weight lifting and avoid putting strain over the belly.

Prenatal exercises for the second trimester:

As you are approaching further, start doing light exercises and start avoiding strenuous exercises. You can continue to do low impact exercises like walking, yoga throughout your pregnancy.

  • Walking:This is the rudimentary exercise you can do in any phase. It is simple and very beneficial on the other hand.
  • Yoga: It is perfect for all the trimester. It keeps you mentally and emotionally healthy.
  • Stationary cycling: It will strengthen your leg muscle and improvise muscle tone.
  • Slow jogging: Put on comfortable clothes and shoes, then you are good to go with it. Make sure you are jogging on a flat surface.
  • Squats: It helps in building lower body strength and muscle tone.

Prenatal exercises for the third trimester:

You should be extra cautious in the final months of your pregnancy. You should do selected exercises which will help you to maintain balance and belly size.

  • Walking and jogging: It is the ideal and simplest exercise throughout your gestational period.
  • Pelvic floor exercises or Kegels: This is very beneficial. You can simply hold the contraction and relax your pelvic muscle for a few seconds. You have to repeat this several times.
  • Prenatal yoga or Pilates: Maintaining a sound mind and a sound body is very important. Doing yoga throughout your complete gestational period is extremely helpful. It will diminish your stress, anxiety. It will also tone down your mental pressure.

Prenatal Exercises Risks and Cautions

There are several pregnancy risks you should keep in mind. It can give rise to several other complications in women with some particular medical conditions. To get rid of them, you must take specific footsteps. There are so many potential risks. These potential risks are associated with the fetus due to maternal exercises. The risks include hyperthermia, abnormal heart rate, and hypoxia. A few complications and risks are stated below

  1. Risk: Pregnancy-induced hypertension (toxemia)

This is a risk or complication that may arise during pregnancy. Generally, the blood pressure abruptly increases which leads to other adverse effects. The warning signs include pain in the upper abdomen, protein in the urine, severe headache, malfunction of the kidney, and a low number of platelets.

Caution: To get rid of it, you should prevent gaining weight, correcting dietary deficiencies, and continuing an optimal nutritional status.

2. Risk: Exercises sometimes cause insufficient oxygen and nutrient delivery to the placental site. It may result in hypoxia. Your muscles demand more oxygen and nutrient supply after exercising, so the fetus will get less oxygen supply.

Caution: You should consult an obstetrician immediately. You should eliminate the exercise which is causing strain and distress for your body.

3. Risk: Strenuous exercises cause overheating and thus it affects maternal thermoregulation. It may lead to hyperthermia.

Caution: You should stop engaging yourself in vigorous exercises in a hot environment.

4. Risk: Sometimes doing excessive exercises can stimulate various hormones like oxytocin. Oxytocin can lead to premature contractions. Premature contractions induce risks associated with the prenatal phase.

Caution: You should seek advice from an obstetrician and should not participate in exercise largely.

5. Risk: Your muscles need more glucose and energy when you engage in exercises. It leads to the depletion of the fetus’s glucose level.

Caution: Consult an obstetrician and take proper diet, medicine as prescribed by them

Who should not exercise?

Exercising daily is a good thing during pregnancy but certain health conditions can bring additional complications. You should take advice from an obstetrician if you are having any health issues. You should not exercise at all in the following condition.

  • If you suffer from anemia during pregnancy
  • Any chronic heart or lung conditions
  • Pregnancy-induced hypertension (also called toxemia or preeclampsia)
  • If you are facing preterm labor
  • Anyone with a history of miscarriage or early spontaneous labor.

Sports to avoid during pregnancy

You should never do a high-impact or high-intensity exercise or activity. They can result in adverse and unintentional conditions. You should avoid some activities which are prone to increase the risk of injury and other complications.

  • You should not engage yourself in scuba diving
  • Try to avoid skydiving as well
  • Try to avoid performing activities above 6000 feet
  • Avoid strenuous or high impact exercises as well as hot pilates or hot yoga
  • Avoid gymnastics and sprinting
  • You must avoid contact sports like hockey, basketball, boxing, soccer that involve the risk of getting hit in the abdomen.

When should you stop working out while pregnant?

There are several warning signs which suggest you to quit exercise promptly. If you experience any of these signs, then consult your obstetrician as soon as possible.

  • If you experience shortness of breathing while exercising
  • Weakness in the muscle
  • Heavy or acute pain in the chest
  • Episodes of headache
  • Any leak out from the vagina
  • Swelling or calf pain
  • Severe contractions in the uterus.

Prenatal Exercises Tips 

You must follow some guidelines before getting started. If you were an active fitness freak before your pregnancy, then you can easily start exercises from the beginning itself. If not, then you must not engage yourself in strenuous exercises promptly. You should seek advice from your instructor or consult an obstetrician and then you should smoothly build up your exercising habits. You should obey some precise pregnancy exercise tips to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Below are some tips that you should follow:

  • Always engage in a warm-up before you start exercising and cool down afterward
  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water
  • Try to maintain the regularity of exercising daily (20-30 minutes of walk is enough)
  • Don’t engage yourself in heavy and strenuous exercises
  • Join exercise classes under trained instructors only
  • Don’t put much pressure on joint while exercising
  • Walking is fine but make sure it is not putting stress on your muscles and joints.

Prenatal exercises you should avoid during pregnancy

  • Don’t do any of high impact exercises
  • Avoid doing exercises which include abdominal twist, backbend as well as raising legs above heart level
  • Don’t engage yourself in activities like scuba diving, horse riding, gymnastics
  • Especially after 16 weeks, don’t lie down on your back
  • Don’t involve exercises that cause dehydration and overheating.

Pregnancy Do’s and Dont’s

Pregnancy Do’s

  • Regular exercise
  • Sleep sufficiently and reduce stress
  • Avoid caffeine, beverages, tobacco
  • Eat and healthy and balanced diet
  • Avoid lifting heavyweights.

Pregnancy Don’ts

  • Never take medicine without consulting to an obstetrician
  • Don’t expose yourself to radiation
  • Don’t do such activity which could involve a risk of falling.

Prenatal Exercises Conclusion

If you keep on doing exercises throughout your gestational journey, it will eliminate several complications. However, it will keep your body and mind cool and calm. Meditation will produce positive enthusiasm. If you can continue these exercises even after childbirth, it will keep your body strong, healthy, and in good shape.


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