Pregnancy is a remarkable period for your body to transform. Maintaining an exercise plan will aid you and your baby's general health and fitness. While you can continue with many fitness activities when pregnant, there are many exercises to avoid during early pregnancy. With the help of the exercises during pregnancy it is possible to gain core strength and hence help with a smoother childbirth experience.Our experts will take you through various exercises to avoid during the first trimester of pregnancy in this article.
Prenatal exercise has several health advantages, including improved sleep, increased strength and endurance, and a happier mood. However, before you put on your shoes, keep in mind that there are some exercises not to do during pregnancy. Knowing the difference can help you and your kid stay safe. Most doctors allow and encourage expecting mothers to continue working out for as long as possible.
Consult your doctor about your dangers and concerns before beginning any workout regimen. Then, even if your doctor has given you the green light to exercise, be sure you know which exercises to avoid during early pregnancy.
With your doctor's permission and a few extra safeguards, you may gain the advantages of exercise during pregnancy, regardless of your previous workout habits. Here are 14 exercises to avoid during early pregnancy and some recommendations on exercising correctly.
Which Exercises Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy?
It is always advisable not to get involved in sports that involve too much physical activity as a pregnant lady. Contact sports are one of the exercises to avoid during early pregnancy as they exhaust your body and make you tired.
2. Yoga in hot conditions
It is advised for pregnant ladies to avoid hot yoga as the room temperature can easily exceed 100 degrees. Such high temperatures induce hyperthermia that leads to abnormalities and early labour.
3. High-intensity workouts
High-intensity workouts include ropes, pushing tyres, lifting heavy weights or boxes, etc., which can be dangerous during pregnancy as it can lead to labour problems and miscarriages. Hight intensity workout is the exercise not to do during pregnancy as it can keep your heart rate elevated for a long which is unsafe during pregnancy.
Pregnant ladies are advised not to use a trampoline as there are chances you'll tumble. Bouncing on trampoline tops the list of exercises to avoid during early pregnancy as it could lead to injuries in your ankles, wrists, or even the womb, leading to birth issues for your baby.
5. Doing heavy-weight exercises
Pregnant women should not be involved in lifting weights as it puts a lot of strain on their ligaments and joints. These ballistic, dynamic big lifts are the movements you shouldn’t do while pregnant due to the hormone relaxin.
Running long distances, cycling and jogging is the exercise to avoid during pregnancy first trimester as they can lead to overexertion and increased body temperature. These are the movements you shouldn’t do while pregnant as dehydration is a possibility and you are more vulnerable to muscle strain.
7. Cross-fit exercises
CrossFit includes bounding, lifting big weights, high-intensity exercise and gymnastics that are not suggested when pregnant. Crossfit is the exercise not to do during pregnancy as it can lead to serious injury.
8. Climbing stairs
Pregnant ladies are advised not to climb stairs as there is a risk of stumbling, tripping, over-exerting, and exercising in a hot climate. Climbing stairs are exercises to avoid during pregnancy especially in the second and third trimester as they can put pressure on the back, increase swelling in the feet and make you feel breathless.
9. Exercises that cause abdominal pressure
A pregnant woman should not perform any exercise that puts pressure on her abdomen, for example, situps or planks. These exercises are very painful and lead to muscle weakening and the development of abdominal separation. Exercises causing abdominal trauma are the movements you shouldn’t do while pregnant as they can lead to a condition called diastasis recti.
10. Training at high altitudes
In areas which are under low-oxygen situations, the human foetus grows improperly which puts an additional strain on the oxygen supply of the foetus. Training at high altitudes over 2500 metres is the exercise not to do during pregnancy as the chances of premature birth increase.
11. Exercises while laying down on your back
Pregnant women are advised to avoid exercises while laying down on your back as this leads to a compression of the gravid uterus, leading to hypotension in the mother and restricted blood supply to the fetus. Activities while lying flat on your back are the exercises to avoid during early pregnancy in the second trimester as it can lead to dizziness and breathlessness.
12. Exercises while laying down on your stomach
Any exercise that makes you lie on your stomach, for example, planks, should be avoided at any cost. These are the movements you shouldn’t do while pregnant as they put pressure and pull on your abdomen which might harm your baby.
13. Standing in a place for a long time
It is not advisable to stand stationary for a long time as too much blood gets collected in your lower extremities, making you pass out. Standing still is an exercise not to do during pregnancy as it puts strains on your joints.
Scuba diving is the last activity you can even think of while pregnant. This is an exercise not to do during pregnancy as it exerts a lot of pressure that leads to birth abnormalities and decompression sickness in the foetus.
What exercises to do during pregnancy?
It is important to include exercises during pregnancy and it is also important to understand the benefits of doing the same. Here is a list of 10 exercises during pregnancy that you can easily do:
What are the safe pregnancy exercises to do during the first trimester?
The trimester is said to be the first three months of pregnancy. These three months of pregnancy can be a tough time due to several emotions gushing in. If you are not one among those considered to be at a high-risk pregnancy you can continue with exercise.
A well-planned first trimester pregnancy exercises must consist of at least 150 minutes of cardiovascular activities every week along with 2 to 3 days of strength training program that will target all your major muscles. The exercise for 4 month pregnancy woman must also mainly focus on exercises that help make pregnancy a lot easier and prepare you for a better childbirth experience.
Here are some of the 3 month pregnancy exercises that you can practice which will keep you safe during the first trimester.
1. Pelvic Brace:
As long as you do not consist of any pelvic floor syndrome you can follow the below-given steps to do this exercise for pregnant women:
- Lie down on your back with feet flat on the ground at a hip-width distance and knees bent
- Keep your lower back and pelvis in a neutral position. This position can be achieved by resting on your back and leaving out a small space such that you are not pressed onto the ground
- Inhale and then exhale to perform a Kegel contraction by closing the openings of the urethra, vagina, and anus.
- Now slightly down your lower abs in the Kegel, while inhaling and relaxing the pelvic floor and abs.
- Now exhale and repeat the previous step again
- Do at least 2 sets with 8 to 15 repetitions with holds of 3 to 5 seconds either twice or once a day.
This exercise helps strengthen your pelvic muscles.
2. Kneeling pushup:
This exercise helps strengthen the core which becomes essential in a 3 month pregnancy exercise routine. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it:
- Lie down flat on your stomach and then push onto your knees and hands while keeping your knees behind your hips
- Draw back your abs towards the spine and then slowly lower your chest towards the ground as you inhale
- Exhale while you get back up
- Start with 6 times and then work up to 20 reps.
One of the first trimester pregnancy exercise which helps keep your muscles strong and protect your back. Here is a guide on how to do the exercise:
- Stand in front of a couch and keep your back facing the couch. Keep your feet hip-width apart and while using the couch get a proper form
- Squat down as if you’re about to sit on the couch and then come back up as your thighs start to touch the couch.
- Take about 5 seconds to go down and 3 seconds to get back into your initial position
- Inhale while you stand and exhale while you squat
- Complete at least 2 sets of 20 reps.
Which are the pregnancy exercises in the second trimester?
Once you are set with the exercises you might find yourself feeling a lot more relaxed once the second trimester sets in. Most women also claim that the second trimester is the best period to focus on their fitness and hence second trimester exercises become important.
While it is true that you need to focus on th trimester of pregnancy exercise it is advised by doctors that you need to be careful to not stress out your body. Most of the activities that need to be avoided during the second trimester exercise include running, or jumping which will tire out your body. During the 5 month pregnancy exercise, it is also important to avoid exercises that consist of lying on your back for long terms.Apart from including the exercises from the first trimester, it is also important to add more of trimester pregnancy exercise that will help train your core. Some of the common month pregnancy exercise includes narrow squat, wide-leg squats, and single-leg squats.
Some of the exercises that you can easily do can be provided as follows:
1. Hip flexor and quadriceps stretch:
This exercise will help you focus on the hip flexors, calves lower back, and glutes. This month pregnancy exercise helps you safely stretch during pregnancy. The step-by-step guide on doing the same can be provided as follows:
- Start with a half-kneeling position now place your right knee on the floor while the left foot is placed in front of you flat on the floor.
- Now lunge toward the forward till you feel a stretch in your right hip and thigh
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and relax. Repeat this 2 more times
- Now switch your side and repeat the steps from the start position
2. Incline pushup:
Incline pushups help target the chest, shoulders, and triceps. A guide to this exercise for pregnant women can be provided as follows:
- Stand facing a railing and place your hands at a shoulder-width distance
- Step back into a standing plank position and your back in a straight line
- Now bend your arms and then slowly lower your chest towards the railing
- Straighten the arms and get back into your initial position
- Continue for 2 sets of 12 reps.
3. Mermaid stretch:
As the diaphragm gets a lot of pressure, it is ideal to follow this 6th month pregnancy exercise as it will help focus on relieving the pressure on the diaphragm and ribs. The guide on doing the same can be provided as follows:
- Sit down on the ground with your knees bent and your feet facing toward your right
- Raise your left arm straight towards the ceiling while you inhale and then exhale and bend towards your right side. The stretch will then be felt on the left side. Now hold this for 4 breaths.
- Now reverse the above step on your next side.
What are the best 3rd trimester pregnancy exercises?
The third trimester is a bit hard of a phase as this is the period where you start preparing for the labor during childbirth. While performing 3 trimester pregnancy exercises you might frequently find yourself either abruptly halting or even slowing down due to your body weight.
The third trimester is an especially important period to focus on cardiovascular activities. The exercises for pregnancy third trimester must be planned accordingly. With the 3rd trimester pregnancy exercises, you might speed up your mobility and abdominal strength. Some of the common exercises you need to include for pregnancy 9 month exercise include the following:
- Prenatal yoga
- Pelvic floor exercise
- Bodyweight exercise
These 8 month pregnancy exercises will also act as a precursor for your childbirth training hence helping keep your upper and lower body strength intact.
As there is a change in the center of gravity as your days go by, it is important to avoid exercises for third trimester that will lead to a loss in balance and hence result in a fall. This will also hurt the baby in the process.
The third trimester tends to take your body to an extreme level and hence making sure you follow the recommended pregnancy 9 month exercise is essential. If you have faced any fatigue, back pain, frequent urination, and swelling you might also want to include 8 month pregnancy exercises that help relieve these symptoms.
Why pelvic floor exercises should be a part of your pregnancy workout routine?
Pelvic floor muscles are lowered in strength when you are during your pregnancy period. Even during childbirth, this weakness tends to continue it is hence needed that you start tending to your pelvic floor muscles right from the beginning of your pregnancy. These pelvic floor exercise for pregnant women must not only be followed during the pregnancy stage but even after childbirth is completed.
Why are abdominal exercises recommended during pregnancy?
Your spine needs a lot of support especially when you are in your pregnancy stage. It is hence important to gain strong abdominal muscles. It is hence important for women to include pregnancy exercises at home that will strengthen the abdomen core and hence help for a smooth pregnancy period. Some of the tips when doing prenatal exercise include the following:
- Concentrate on pulling your belly towards the spine
- Breathe out while you pull in your belly
- Keep this position and count till 10 and then relax and breathe in
- Repeat this step 10 times or you can do as many as you can in a day
- Perform this exercise either while you are standing or while sitting or in a baby position.
How To Exercise During Early Pregnancy?
If you're new to working out, now isn't the time to start training for a marathon — but you may begin cautiously, aiming for at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
If you're very motivated and your practitioner has given you the go-ahead depending on your fitness level, you can work out for an hour or even longer until you listen to your body. Expectant mothers are more likely to become exhausted, which raises their risk of harm.
While working out hard is normal when you're pregnant, overdoing it can cause issues like dehydration or a shortage of oxygen for your baby if you're out of breath for lengthy periods. Learning to listen to your body throughout pregnancy is more crucial than ever.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG) recommends adopting a rate of perceived effort. Consider a scale from 7 to 20, with 7 representing slow strolling and 20 representing working out as hard as possible. You aim to keep your effort rate between 13 and 14 or at a moderately challenging level.
How much should you exercise during pregnancy?
When exercising it is recommended to at least include 150 minutes per week of intense aerobic activity. This can also be divided into 30 minutes sessions of pregnancy exercises at home for five days a week or even small 10-minute workouts as per your convenience.
It is important that you do not feel discouraged throughout the routine if you are unable to reach the goal and keep on going with the prenatal exercise throughout the pregnancy period for a long-term result.
What are the modifications to be made to exercises during pregnancy?
While exercise for pregnant women is recommended it is necessary to make modifications based on your health. Here are some of the modifications that you can include during pregnancy exercises at home:
1. Make sure you do not involve high-impact exercise:
Not involving in high-impact exercise is a must. Indulging in walking and jogging is acceptable when it comes to the first trimester. You can also include swimming or water aerobics that will provide a low-impact yet full-body workout.
2. Avoid going too far out of your comfort zone:
While exercising you need not go out of your comfort zone. Especially if you are new to exercise you need to tone it down. 20 minutes or less of walking will also work as a part of pregnancy exercise at home if you are completely new to this.
Which Month To Start Exercising During Pregnancy?
You risk being struck, overheated, or falling during the first trimester. You may keep doing the less strenuous activities at the gym. Avoid contact sports like boxing, rugby, and football. You can convert to indoor riding for safety reasons.
The risk is moderate during the second trimester; thus, low-impact activities like walking or swimming should be substituted for running and leaping. Yoga, Pilates, and aqua aerobics are all fantastic, but let the instructor know what you expect. Don't spend more than a few minutes lying on your back.
The third trimester is critical for both you and your baby. Avoid exercising at all costs. Go for a stroll to maintain yourself healthy and fit. To relieve aches and pains, try simple stretches.
Who Should Avoid Exercise In Pregnancy?
Exercise during early pregnancy is not recommended if you have a medical condition such as asthma, heart disease, or uncontrolled Type 1 diabetes. Exercise can be dangerous if you have an obstetric condition like:
- Bleeding or spotting
- Weak cervix
If you have any of the following conditions, you should avoid aerobic exercise while pregnant:
- Hemodynamically significant heart disease
- Restrictive lung disease
- Incompetent cervix/cerclage
- Multiple gestations at risk for premature labour
- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Placenta previa after 26 weeks of gestation
- Premature labour during the current pregnancy
- Ruptured membranes
- Preeclampsia/pregnancy-induced hypertension
If you have any of the following conditions, avoid aerobic exercise during pregnancy:
- Severe anaemia
- Unevaluated maternal cardiac arrhythmia
- Chronic bronchitis
- Poorly controlled type 1 diabetes
- Extreme morbid obesity
- Extreme underweight (BMI <12)
- History of a highly sedentary lifestyle
- Intrauterine growth restriction in the current pregnancy
- Poorly controlled hypertension
- Orthopaedic limitations
- Poorly controlled seizure disorder
- Poorly controlled hyperthyroidism
- Heavy smoker
Can Exercise Cause Miscarriage In The Early 3 Months Of Pregnancy?
Regular and light exercise is always good for the body and cannot cause miscarriages. However, if the pregnancy is complicated, it is safer to avoid routine exercise. Avoid high-intensity workouts at any stage of pregnancy whatsoever.
For example, active women during their pregnancy pose a lower threat of suffering from gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. By being active, we mean getting involved in:-
- Pregnancy yoga
- Aquanatal classes
Also, if your concern is that your baby might be shaken around during your exercise, don’t worry, as this is not something that happens. Your baby is safe and secured inside your womb. In fact, being a little active during your pregnancy makes you get better sleep and reduces pregnancy complications and anxiety.
Should I Avoid Exercise In Early Pregnancy?
Yes, as mentioned before, it is always advisable not to get involved in exercises and sports involving too much physical activity during pregnancy. However, at times, exercising becomes beneficial both for you and your kid in the following ways:
- Feel better - When you're wondering how this weird body came to be yours, exercise might help you feel more in control and give you more energy. Not only can proper exercise help you feel better by generating endorphins, but it can also:
- Strengthen and tone the muscles in your back, buttocks, and thighs
- Alleviate your constipation
- Activate the lubricating fluid in your joints
- Assist in sleeping better by reducing tension
- Look better - Exercise improves blood flow to the skin, resulting in a healthy glow.
- Prepare you and your body for birth - Strong muscles and a healthy heart may make labour and delivery effortless. Controlling your breathing can help you cope with pain. Increased endurance can also be beneficial in the event of long labour.
- Regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly - If you continue to exercise during your pregnancy, you will acquire less fat weight. However, don't anticipate or try to reduce weight when pregnant by exercising. The majority of women want to stay in shape throughout their pregnancy.
What Are The Precautions To Take While Exercising During Early Pregnancy?
- Do not overwork yourself
- When exercising while pregnant, keep a conversation going to prevent getting out of breath
- Do not engage in vigorous physical activity
- Always warm up and cool down before and after exercise
- Daily activity is recommended — 30 minutes of walking is sufficient
- Water and other fluids should be consumed in large quantities
- Inform your instructor that you are expecting a child
- Horseback riding, downhill skiing, and other fall-prone activities should be avoided
What Are The Signs to Stop Exercising During Pregnancy?
When you're pregnant, low- to moderate-impact cardiovascular activity like swimming, walking, and running, as well as strength training, prenatal Pilates, and yoga, are all beneficial. However, each physical exercise comes with its own set of hazards. Here are some red flags to look out for:
- Chest pain
- Bleeding vagina
- Regular contractions of the uterus
- Rapid heartbeat
- Painful contractions
- Fluid leaking or gushing from the vagina
- Calf swelling or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in fetal movement
- Pain in your hips, pelvis, or abdominal area
Stop exercising during early pregnancy if you notice any of these signs. After you take a break, certain warning indicators, such as dizziness and muscular weakness, may go away.
If you have blood or fluid pouring from your vaginal area, calf swelling or discomfort, painful contractions, chest pain that won't go away, pelvic or abdominal pain, or any changes in foetal activity, call your obstetrician right once.
When To Call A Doctor During Early Pregnancy?
Stop exercising immediately and contact your doctor or midwife if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Warning signs of pre-term labour - If you and your doctor or midwife act immediately, you may be able to avoid preterm labour. Keep an eye out for:
- Vaginal bleeding
- Unusual pain in your belly
- Fluid leaking or gushing from your vagina
- Trouble breathing - When you're pregnant, breathing problems like asthma might become more serious. If you have asthma, keep your inhaler with you at all times. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor or midwife:
- Chest pain
- Heart pounding
- Rapid heartbeat
Exercising while pregnant is a terrific method to keep fit and mentally stable. However, if your body sends you any warning signals, listen carefully and be prepared to back off or call your doctor or midwife.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What exercises should you avoid in the first trimester?
You should avoid exercises or activities that may cause injury or other problems for your child in pregnancy first trimester. Listed below are a few exercises to avoid during pregnancy first trimester.
- Downhill and water skiing
- Horseback riding
- Heavy weight lifting
- Soccer, hockey, and other contact sports
- Tennis, squash, and other sports that may throw you off balance
- Exercising while lying on your stomach
- Scuba diving
2. Can exercise cause miscarriage?
During pregnancy, your body produces chemicals that relax the ligaments in your body. This aids in the expansion of your pelvis, but it also affects the mobility of your other joints. This is why high-impact activities should be avoided, which places you at a higher risk of injury and leads to miscarriage.
3. Can you do squats while pregnant?
No, it is not advisable to do squats while pregnant as it is a strenuous activity that leads to overheating muscles.
The Bottom Line
Exercising while pregnant is good for both you and your child. Following the ACOG's standards, avoiding high-risk behaviours, and listening to your body are the keys to keeping safe.
A good place to start is to engage in some low-to-moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week.
Just keep in mind that skiing, basketball, horseback riding, scuba diving, and dodgeball are some of the major exercises to avoid during early pregnancy. Stop if something hurts or doesn't feel right, and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.