Safe Exercises To Stay Fit Throughout Pregnancy and Beyond
To say that exercise is good for staying fit during and after pregnancy is only scratching the surface of its many benefits. It has been well-documented that prenatal exercises can improve mood, reduce the risk of premature birth, help with insomnia and more. Postnatal exercises bring a lot to the table as well. A simple workout routine can aid in speeding up the natural healing process by revitalizing the mind and body after birth.
So are you inspired to break a sweat, mama? If so, we have made a list of pre and post-natal exercises you can do from the comfort of your home. We have also tried to answer any questions you might have about working out during pregnancy and postpartum.
Safe At-Home Pregnancy Exercises for Every Trimester
Most mums-to-be benefit immensely from exercising during pregnancy provided it's the right kind of exercise that doesn't harm the body or the baby. Moreover, unlike typical workout routines, which gradually increase in intensity, the opposite is recommended during pregnancy. So let's take a deep dive into trimester-wise exercises you can try.
Exercising During the First Trimester
The first trimester can be a bit of a doozy. Even though you won't have a big enough bump that imposes any physical restrictions, you will still face many discomforts as the body adjusts. Symptoms like nausea, mood swings, cramps and severe fatigue will make it hard for you to do any extreme physical exertion. So, the best thing you can do is start slow, especially if you were not a fitness enthusiast before, and then increase the workout duration as the symptoms subside.
Safe Exercises To Try:
- Side Plank
- Pelvic Curls
- Pelvic Brace
- Bicep Curls
- Knee Push-Ups
Exercising During the Second Trimester
This phase of pregnancy is optimal for exercising! Those pesky symptoms have lessened or disappeared, and at the same time, the bump still isn't big enough to restrict much of your movements. Because you have more energy, you can increase the duration of your workout routine. However, keep in mind that during this time, you are more prone to injuries, such as sprains and muscle strains. So avoid anything high on the intensity level and instead focus on increasing flexibility and core strength.
Safe Exercises To Try:
- Mermaid Stretches
- Hip Flexors
- Kegel Exercises
- Sumo Squats
- Side-Lying Leg Lifts
- Incline Push-Ups
- Stationary Cycling (if you have an exercise bike)
- Prenatal Yoga (hero, warrior, cat-cow pose)
- Modified Pilates (less crunch, more core and no laying on your stomach)
- Light Dancing (refrain from jumping)
Exercising During the Third Trimester
Once you reach the third trimester, your bump will be heavier, you’ll experience shortness of breath, get tired easily, and more. All of which will inhibit you from doing things like walking fast, bending down, etc. During these last couple of months, it’s okay to dial back on exercising. You may even have to completely stop if you find exercise uncomfortable, so listen to your body and your doctor. If both give you the green light to continue, then only go for a workout that helps keep you limber and fit for labour.
Safe Exercises To Try:
- Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Modified Pilates
- Prenatal Yoga
- Prenatal Barre Workouts
- Wall Push-Ups
Exercises You Should Avoid During Pregnancy
We encourage pregnant mamas to have a prenatal exercise plan, but you also want to be absolutely safe. So, apart from the above guide that gives you a general idea of which exercises you can do throughout your pregnancy, we would also like to mention the ones you should avoid.
- Any exercise that is new to you (now isn’t the time to start running for the first time!)
- Impact sports
- Sports with risk of falling, such as skiing, snowboarding, etc.
- Any exercise that requires being flat on your back for long periods
- Any exercise that requires laying on your stomach
- Any exercise that requires holding your breath
Safe At-Home Postpartum Exercises
Even if birth goes smoothly and you feel better than previously anticipated, listen to your doctor’s recommended recuperation period before starting any postpartum workout regimen. In the beginning, you should only do light stretches and gentle exercises to avoid overexertion. By doing the below exercises regularly, you will be able to enhance your mood, reduce the effect of post-birth hormone imbalance, charge up your spirit and get the energy boost you need to tackle any parenting chores.
Safe Exercises To Try:
- Lower belly exercises that include deep breathing can help encourage your uterus while it shrinks back. However, don't expect your tummy to revert back to its pre-pregnancy state right away.
- Pelvic floor exercises like kegels, squats, bridge, and posterior pelvic tilts can help heal the vagina and perineum area faster, strengthen the pelvic muscles and improve blood circulation.
- Lower back exercises like Mcgill curl-up, glute bridge, cat-cow and bird-dog can strengthen your core and glute muscles and alleviate postpartum back pain.
- Start with short brisk walks and progressively increase the pace till they become power walks. Even though it is not an at-home exercise, we still included it since walking is the most simple and effective way to stay fit and agile. You can even take your baby with you in a stroller or sling.
Exercise can sometimes trigger breast leakage, so keep a pack of reusable nursing pads close by. Also, wear a supportive bra that fits you perfectly to prevent developing mastitis.
Exercises To Avoid Immediately After Birth
Your body will go through a lot during the nine months — it will change significantly. You will have bigger boobs that cause additional back strain, loose joints and postpartum body weight. You may even have diastasis recti (over-stretched adominal muscles). Refrain from doing anything that halts the healing process or exacerbates conditions like diastasis recti. For example, sit-ups, crunches, planks, mid-section twists, and extreme yoga poses can strain the abdominal muscles during this sensitive time. Also, steer clear of any jumping-related workouts to prevent uterine prolapse.
Three Effective Ways To Unwind After Working Out
1. Relaxing Bath - Allow yourself a long, indulgent bath with our luxurious soaks after working out. Pregnant mamas should try the calming himalayan salt soak, whereas postpartum mums should go with the healing postpartum sitz soak.
2. Magnesium Spray - If you feel muscle stiffness or pain, soothe them with our effective. magnesium spray. Apart from working wonders on body aches, it also helps mums with restless leg syndrome and pregnancy insomnia. For best results, apply it after taking a warm bath infused with either the himalayan salt soak or the postpartum sitz soak.
3. Pregnancy and Postpartum Massage - The best way to unwind and treat your worked-up body is to get a soothing massage. Just an hour of relaxation under the skilful hands of a massage therapist and aromatic blends of natural oils can help the tension slip right off your body.
Sometimes exercising may not seem that appealing, especially when you are suffering from unpleasant morning sickness or taking care of a newborn. But remember, including a few simple activities into your daily routine can contribute to a healthy pregnancy, uncomplicated childbirth, and faster postpartum recovery. So go ahead and pick one activity that gets you moving and start your workout today. And while you do so, listen to your body to know its limitations. And lastly, don't forget to unwind afterwards with our delightful soaks, like this himalayan salt soak.
– The Hermosa Co.