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Talk to me about continuing an established exercise routine during pregnancy

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

(Cross-posted in fitness)

I wanted to ask other woman about their experience staying physically active during pregnancy, especially if you’re continuing activity that you were doing before getting pregnant.


Some background: DH and I are working on making a baby—his first, my second. We just started trying this month, but last time it didn’t take me long, lol. I had a really easy first pregnancy, and I was fairly active in terms of walking and yoga and such, but at that time I was in my mid-20s and didn’t have a set exercise routine. I just turned 34, and in the last three years I’ve gotten to love working out. First I did different exercise videos, and then I got into pilates, and in the last few months I’ve been doing this intense crossfit class about four times per week, and loving it (it’s offered for free at my work – best job perk ever). I also just started doing pole dancing and aerial hoop classes, which are insanely fun. Plus we live pretty central and walk/bike all the time. I certainly don’t have a perfect bikini body, but in the last year I’ve built up more strength than I’ve ever had before in my core, arms, legs, and chest, and my endurance is better than it’s ever been. I love feeling strong and healthy, and I love the feeling of exercise. I really want to try to maintain as much of that as possibly during the pregnancy.


I’ve been online doing a bunch of research, and read some medical journals and such. It seems like in general, the prevailing wisdom is that you can keep on doing the activities that you were doing before pregnancy, so long as you listen to your body and don’t push the intensity too much. And in general, it seems like your body naturally starts slowing down. I’ve also read that prohibitions against getting your heart rate up too high are no longer considered evidence-based, but many doctors recommend keeping your intensity below a 5 – 7 on a 10 point scale. And I’ve read that you should watch out that you don’t get too overheated, and also be aware of the effects of the hormone relaxin.

So I guess in general, these are my questions:


  1. What was your exercise routine before pregnancy?
  2. How did you continue that during pregnancy?
  3. What modifications did you have to make as the pregnancy progressed?
  4. Overall, how did you feel about exercise during pregnancy?
post #2 of 10

Hi mamajen,


I've had 3 pregnancies and am almost at the end of my 4th (35 weeks).  For the first 2 pregnancies I walked a ton before, during and after.  I wasn't running or doing anything high-impact and I had great pregnancies, though I did gain more than the average amt of weight. With my first I walked the most and lost almost all of it by 3 months post-partum, which I attribute to the exercise.  The only modification I made was to walk slower towards the end.  My 3rd pregnancy I had 2 little kids and found it really really hard to get exercise though I still had a great pregnancy and birth, but it took me 3 yrs to get the weight back off!!  So I was running half marathons and marathons by the time my 3rd was 3 yrs old, playing lacrosse weekly, doing the Insanity workout, and by the time I was pregnant the 4th time (right now) I weighed less than on my wedding!!


I did not stop working out this pregnnacy but I didn't try for speed when running, though I did keep up with Insanity.  However I took a few week hiatus in the 1st tri when I just felt so sick and didn't want to work out.  It wasn't a set back in terms of being in shape though.  I talked to my midwives and they were fully supportive of me continuing even the high-intensity workouts.  So I did even 6 days a week up until the middle of my second tri.  I didn't do any modifications except I just gave myself a break and didn't push myself as hard as I would have pre-pregnancy.  I am now 35 weeks like I mentioned and have stopped doing all of it but walking.  I had no desire to keep running once I got big (start of my 3rd tri) it felt uncomfortable and I am pretty good at listening to my body.  I also babysit kids a few days a week and am constantly pushing strollers, walking up stairs, carrying babies, etc and all of that is enough workout for me!  I definitely get tired out easily but its really easy to respect my limits.  


I have LOVED working out this pregnancy and honestly wish I had worked out harder for babies #2 and 3.  It made sooo much difference in my mood and how I feel about myself gaining weight.  I kept up eating well too (don't forget that important piece!) cutting out caffeine until the 3rd tri and making sure to eat power foods and getting plenty of rest.  


My only word of caution is that one of the midwives in the practice I go to is very knowledgeable about uterine prolapse.  Apparently older (35+) women with a history of high-impact exercises during pregnancy and jumping back into working out too quickly after a baby can lead to uterine prolapse.  I am NOT an expert I only know what she has cautioned me about so when my belly started feeling too heavy for running and high-impact exercises I stopped.  That and I also increased my kegles and other exercises to strengthen my uterine muscles.  

post #3 of 10


I'm 34 as well and am expecting my first in November. I'm a referee and a coach for flat track roller derby and am active in other ways as well, so I thought I'd share.


I have basically kept up everything I was doing before I got pregnant and also added a few other activities. Now, at almost 21 weeks, I'm finding modifications to my old routines and doing a little more of the new 'pregnancy friendly' activities.


I kept up refereeing derby until my second trimester, at which point I stopped only because others skaters were concerned about running into a pregnant official (we do get taken down on occasion). But I still skate at practices with the team I coach. Also, I'm spending more time skating on the trail near my house because the weather is finally nice enough up here to do it. I'm also occasionally attending open skate sessions for fun. As the bump grows and my center of gravity shifts, I am presuming that there will be less trail skating and more indoor session skating.


I have had both of my knees reconstructed, and was warned off of yoga for a period due to potential stretching in the graft ligaments. But on becoming pregnant, I asked my PT and my Ortho and they both encouraged me to get back into yoga practice, albeit gently (I was a hard core bikram addict before injury). I'm now practicing yoga at a basic or gentle level (but not a specifically prenatal class) at least once a week, and find myself doing poses in the house at different times throughout the day when I have a minute. I figure that eventually I will be doing yoga in some form every day- especially in the fall once the bump begins making roller skating more challenging.


I'm also considering adding a water-based toning class that is recommended by my health club for prenatal workouts. I think the pool will be nice and that it will be something I can stick to for the duration, even if relaxin makes yoga no fun for my knees. We're having a pretty serious heat wave up here, and a class in the pool is sounding better and better.


To top that all off, I've already signed up for one walk/run friendly 5k next month, and am considering another.


And my midwife is fine with all of this.


So basically, my advice is to let your body be in charge and to do what feels right and good and listen in equal parts to your body and your care provider (s). The aerial classes may have to go (I had to not go back to gymnastics even though I was orthopedically cleared), and the other activities might need to be a little bit modified, but there's nothing off limits to continuing a fitness regimen while expecting.


Good luck to you!


post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks, guys -- it was great reading your stories! That was really helpful, and makes me feel hopeful that I can keep on staying active, even if I have to start modifying the routine as the pregnancy progresses.

post #5 of 10

I didn't have a set routine to keep up with, but I did try and keep active with moderate success. Personally, I think I am pretty in tune with my body and I could just feel when activities were getting to be too much. I was surprised and a little disapointed with how quickly it happened though, but I was also not as strong as you are. I think if you open up to new forms of exercise you'll be happier than if you judge yourself for not sticking to your current favorites. 


My experience went roughly like this: 


For the worst fatigue in the first trimester, I really just gave up because I needed my energy to do basic things, but by 10-12wks I was DYING for a workout. Now, at 37 wks, fatigue is winning again for this last month. I save my energy for lugging groceries up to my apt. without an elevator and for getting around the walkable areas of town without fainting in the sun, LOL. However, from 12-36wks I felt really great and active, even as I had to modify my activities. 


Modifications I made were: 


Cycling was the first to go. It hurt my pelvis and made my nausea worse in the 1st trimester, and when I tried again in the 3rd on a stationary bike, I found the hunched over posture made it hard to breathe. Also... my legs kept hitting my belly! It might have worked in the 2nd trimester, but I didn't try it. 


The next thing I changed was my aerobic intensity when running or using the elliptical. A workout that kept me at 140 BMP or so before pregnancy had me at 180 even at just 4mo along, so I toned way down on that or I would get dizzy.


For high impact stuff, there just came a time when it made me feel bad. For example, Zumba class with bouncy dancing just started making my abdomen ache sometime around 15wks, I stopped using the elliptical around 30wks, and walking briskly (5mph or so) was the last to go (34 wks or so). 


Swimming turned into my favorite workout because it remained comfortable the longest. By 36wks I was much slower and had cut my distance per workout in half because the anti-gravity effect gives me acid reflux after about 30mins. >.< 


I am still enjoying a moderate yoga program just minus on-your-back exercises, which went out the window early for me at 18 wks.


ETA: I've done Kegels from beginning to end and I am proud to say I've not once peed myself, even after 2hrs of soda and laughs at a comedy show at 35wks, so don't forget that workout!!! I love my iron bladder. 

Edited by cynthiamoon - 7/8/13 at 2:59pm
post #6 of 10

When I was pregnant with my DD, I was dancing 4 classes a week. Dance starts in September and I got pregnant in December. I continued to dance up to our recital mid-June when I was about 6 months pregnant. Even in the first trimester when I was feeling crappy, as soon as I started dancing I felt amazing. My midwife totally supported my dancing but told me to pay attention to my body and not do anything if there is a risk of me falling. In my recital, I was doing jumps, spins, etc. without any problems.

I made sure to drink lots of water at dance class and did sit down occasionally if I was getting really tired - one ballet class, our instructor had us doing jumps and spins across the floor over and over for the full hour almost. I had to sit down that day.


Once dance was over for the year, I started aqua-fitness to keep active and loved that as well.


I did lose all of my baby weight (and more) after baby was born, but I only returned to dance for one class per week after baby so I think that is mostly from all the nursing she did :)


I think the best bet is to check with your care provider who knows your history and listen to your body. Congratulations!

post #7 of 10
Originally Posted by AllisonRH View Post

 Even in the first trimester when I was feeling crappy, as soon as I started dancing I felt amazing. 


That's awesome! I wish I had kept up with some exercise in the first trimester. I know I gained some fat-lbs in that time. I've heard lots of people say it helps with energy, but I just couldn't get over the mood-energy barrier enough considering it was mid-winter and I didn't have a gym membership at the time. 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies, it's great to hear other women's stories. We have baby-making success, and I just did my first pregnant crossfit class. I'm only four weeks along, but it felt pretty much the same as normal. I just tried to stay super hydrated and keep an eye on the heat.  

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the replies, it's great to hear other women's stories. We have baby-making success, and I just did my first pregnant crossfit class. I'm only four weeks along, but it felt pretty much the same as normal. I just tried to stay super hydrated and keep an eye on the heat.  

post #10 of 10

Every body is different and you just need to know yours.  I've never been a regimented workout lover, but have always played softball.  I gave that up while I was preggo not because of the pregnancy so much but because my work hours were hectic.  I was outside 8-12 hours a day 6 days a week running and training dogs, so lots of erratic movements, dogs jumping on me, etc and I had no problem with it.  My friend just gave birth having done crossfit her entire pregnancy and even increasing her weight bearing exercises as she progressed, so there was no real slow down with her. 

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