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Navigating the Challenges and Benefits of Pregnancy: A Guide to Safe Prenatal Exercise

Pregnancy is a beautiful and life-changing experience that brings immense joy and excitement to expectant mothers. The thought of bringing a new life into the world is nothing short of magical. However, the journey of pregnancy is not without its challenges.

Physical discomforts such as morning sickness, back pain, and fatigue are common among pregnant women. These physical changes can often be overwhelming and affect the quality of life for the mother-to-be. Furthermore, hormonal changes can also lead to mood swings and emotional challenges that can be difficult to manage.


In addition to the physical and emotional challenges, pregnancy also brings about significant lifestyle changes. Women may need to modify their diets and make accommodations in their work and personal lives to ensure the safety and well-being of themselves and their growing baby. These changes can be stressful and overwhelming, especially for first-time mothers who may not know what to expect.


Despite these challenges, many women find that pregnancy is a rewarding and transformative experience. With the right support, expectant mothers can navigate the challenges of pregnancy with grace and strength. Staying informed about the changes that occur during pregnancy, seeking support from loved ones, and taking care of themselves are some of the ways women can make the most of their pregnancy journey.


When it comes to exercising during pregnancy, there is a lot of misleading information out there. It's important to be fully informed and seek advice from trusted sources. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Australian College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) are excellent sources of information on exercising during pregnancy. With the right guidance, expectant mothers can maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve their physical and emotional well-being during pregnancy.


Here are some simple guidelines for exercising during pregnancy:


1. From 20 weeks pregnant, do not lay on your back for sustained periods of time.

Laying on your back for an extended period of time after 20 weeks can compress the vena cava, the main vein that returns blood from the lower body to the heart. This can reduce blood flow to your uterus and may make you feel dizzy or light-headed. To avoid this, it's best to avoid lying on your back for prolonged periods of time after 20 weeks. If you were doing an exercise like glute bridges with your legs up on a large exercise ball, it would be fine, but it's important to get out of that position straight away.


2. Avoid any risks of falling.

Falling during pregnancy can be dangerous for both you and your baby. You're at a higher risk of falling during pregnancy due to changes in your center of gravity and your body's ligaments becoming more relaxed. While staying active during pregnancy is important, it's equally important to avoid exercises or activities that put you at risk of falling. This could include high-impact exercises or activities that require sudden changes in direction.


3. Do 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, and 2-3 resistance training sessions per week.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), pregnant women should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, per week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as running. Additionally, 2-3 resistance training sessions per week can help maintain muscle strength and prepare your body for labor and delivery. However, it's important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting or continuing any exercise routine during pregnancy.


4. Look out for danger signs.

During pregnancy, it's important to be aware of any signs or symptoms that could indicate a problem. This could include sudden lightheadedness, dizziness, untreated or undiagnosed swelling, heart palpitations, vaginal bleeding, unusual lack of fetal movement, or groin or hip pain. If you experience any of these symptoms during exercise, stop the activity immediately and contact your healthcare provider for guidance. In more serious cases, call emergency services right away.


5. Ab-exercises are completely safe to do when you're pregnant!

Contrary to popular belief, it is completely safe to do ab exercises during pregnancy. However, as your pregnancy progresses, you may need to modify your ab exercises to avoid discomfort or to accommodate your growing belly. For example, you could try doing exercises on your hands and knees, or standing exercises that work your core.


6. Do not lay on your front after the first trimester.

As your belly grows, lying on your front can become uncomfortable or even painful. However, it's safe to lie on your front during the first trimester if it feels comfortable for you. After that, you'll want to avoid lying on your front and find alternative positions for exercises that require you to lie on your stomach.


Despite the challenges of pregnancy, many women find it to be a rewarding and transformative experience. It is important for pregnant women to stay informed, seek support from loved ones, and take care of themselves during this time. This can involve making lifestyle changes such as modifying diets and accommodating work and personal life, and navigating financial challenges that may arise. It is crucial to prioritize one's health and the health of the growing baby, which may require taking time off or reducing work hours.


When it comes to exercising during pregnancy, there is a lot of misleading information out there. It is important to research or seek advice from a trusted source. The American College of Obstetricians & Gynaecology (ACOG) is a reliable source of information, as is the Australian College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).


Pregnancy is a time of great change and challenges, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding and transformative experience. It is important for pregnant women to prioritize their health and that of their growing baby, and to make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, work, and personal life. With the right information, support, and self-care, pregnant women can navigate this time with grace and strength. And when it comes to exercise, it is important to stay informed and seek advice from trusted sources, to avoid any potential risks while staying healthy and active.

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