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Should I be exercising whilst pregnant?

Updated: Jul 19, 2021


exercise during pregnancy

The simple answer is….most likely yes.

Pregnancy can be a very scary time for most woman, therefore it is no wonder so many woman are afraid to exercise. A very long time ago midwifes even advised bed rest during your pregnancy and this maybe where some of the anxiety has originated. However we now know that this in fact is probably one of the worse things you could be doing for the majority of woman. There are a number of benefits that will actually make your antenatal experience easier.

Below is a breakdown of the benefits of exercise during each stage of your pregnancy:

First Trimester (0-12 weeks)

· Weight management

· Improved posture

· Maintain good body awareness

· Maintain bone density

· Reduce risk of diabetes

Second Trimester (13-27 weeks)

· Reduced weight gain

· Maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness levels

· Maintain good body awareness

· Improved posture

· Improved mood & self-esteem

· Improved energy levels

· Improved sleep

· Improved digestion

Third Trimester (28-40 weeks)

· Decreased fatigue

· Decreased stress & anxiety

· Maintain cardiovascular and muscular fitness levels

· Improved mood & self-esteem

· Improved sleep

· Increased energy


Woman who exercise throughout their pregnancy also show a reduction in common antenatal complaints:

· Leg cramps

· Oedema (most common is ankle swelling)

· Carpal tunnel syndrome

· Constipation

· High/low Blood pressure

· Diabetes

· Varicose Veins

· Haemorrhoids

Exercise even has shown major benefits with labour and child birth, resulting in reduced:

· Labour time

· Need for medical intervention or C-section

· Recovery time postnatal

· Incidence of postnatal depression



Despite their being so many benefits to exercise it does still carry a risk if not performed correctly. The following is a breakdown of certain components of exercise you should avoid during each trimester:

First Trimester

· A woman who has exercise before pregnancy should be well conditioned to continue her current physical activity.

· Contact sport

· Heavy lifting (use of Valsalva technique)

Second Trimester

· Contact sport

· Heavy lifting (use of Valsalva technique)

· High impact

· Rapid changes of direction

· Extreme sweating

· Supine position

· Prone position

Third trimester

· Contact sport

· Heavy lifting (use of Valsalva technique)

· High impact

· Rapid changes of direction

· Extreme sweating

· Supine position

· Prone position

· Direct abdominal work

· Stand still for long duration

· Standing exercise (increased fall risk)



Despite this being the guidance there have been many women who have continued to train the same throughout their pregnancy and preforming some very complex heavy lifts just days before given birth. Personally I don’t agree with this because the mother is not only putting herself at risk of injury or worse, but also putting her unborn child in unnecessary danger.


As an ante/postnatal personal trainer I believe this period in women’s training programme should be the time she focusses on maintaining good health and preparing herself for child birth. This will also put her into a strong position to recover well post pregnancy.


If you have any concerns over exercise during pregnancy or would like any advice on how to get back into exercise post child birth, just send me an email and I will be happy to advise.

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