It’s time to finally get all those pregnancy exercise rules straight. It’s easy to skip the gym when you’re unsure of what you should or shouldn’t do. Feel confident about your pregnancy workouts with this list of the 10 most important Do’s and Don’ts. Keep this list handy and you’ll have a safe workout every time.

DO

DO strengthen your abs and pelvic floor.

A common misconception is that ab workouts are unsafe during pregnancy, but actually, you need to work on strengthening your abs! You’re not going to “squish” your baby with an ab workout. 😉 Your labor and delivery will be a lot easier if you have strong abs and pelvic floor. Exercises like squats and planks are a good place to start.

As your belly gets bigger, ab workouts can become more uncomfortable and awkward. When you’re closer to full term, try sitting upright on the floor with your legs folded. Breathe in deeply through your nose and exhale slowly while flexing your abs and repeat. This simple workout will keep your abs strong enough to push your little baby out of you!

DO get your heart rate up every day

Just 30 minutes of exercise a day will lower your stress, improve your baby’s heart health, and make your delivery a better experience. For me, one of the biggest benefits is that I feel so much happier, I have a healthier appetite, and my nausea goes away. I can’t get through a day without a little workout!

DO tone down your pre-pregnancy workout

If you were an exercise junkie before pregnancy, now is the time to ease up, just a little bit. Often you can keep doing the same activities as before (like running, biking, or aerobics), but there are now modifications you need to make.

 

DO take a break if you feel hot, nauseated, in pain, or light-headed

Listen to your body when you exercise. If you feel hot, take a break. Overheating can hurt the baby, so try not to exercise outside if it’s too hot and humid.  If you feel nauseated or in pain, that’s your body telling you that you’re pushing too hard. If you feel light-headed or very out of breath, you need to slow it down because that means you aren’t getting enough oxygen to the baby.

This could possibly be the biggest difference between pre-pregnancy and pregnancy workouts. You may be used to working through the pain and pushing yourself even when you are out of breath. Even though that is fine pre-pregnancy, you need to learn when to slow it down now.

DO drink lots of water

Make sure to drink lots of water during your workout, because dehydration occurs quicker during pregnancy and can hurt the baby. Remember that you need at least 10-12 glasses of water a day! Short water breaks during your workout will keep you hydrated and keep your heart rate at a healthy level where you will get enough oxygen to your baby.

DON’T

DON’T lay on flat on your back

After your first trimester, avoid exercises that require you to lay flat on your back. The weight of your uterus will decrease blood flow to your heart and the baby, and you could easily pass out. Remember this same rule while sleeping- sleeping on your side is much safer than flat on your back!

DON’T play contact sports

Stay away from contact sports like basketball, football, and soccer during pregnancy. There is simply a higher likelihood of getting hurt while playing contact sports, so don’t risk your safety! Try these workouts instead!

DON’T play balancing sports

During your second and third trimester, your balance is affected and you could have a harder time staying upright. Activities like biking or ice skating should be avoided, as you are more likely to fall and hurt yourself.

Although yoga requires balance, it is still a great workout during pregnancy. Because of its steady, slower style, you aren’t likely to hurt yourself falling. Just avoid the advanced poses, like headstands, and yoga can still be a great pregnancy workout!

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DON’T skip the warm-up and cool down

Make sure to warm up before workouts and cool down after to avoid injuries. Warm-ups and cool-downs will help your heart rate rise and fall at a safer speed so that the baby gets the blood flow and oxygen it needs.

Good examples include stretching and moving around at a slower rate than you would during your actual workout. Don’t skip the cooldown all together by sitting on the couch directly after your workout- this will reduce blood supply to other parts of your body, including the baby.

DON’T over-stretch

During pregnancy, your body releases a hormone called “relaxin” that literally relaxes your joints so that labor is easier on your body. Because of this hormone, you are more likely to hurt yourself during exercising, especially with stretches. You may find that you can stretch further than you used to, but that doesn’t mean that you should. Stretch at the level you could pre-pregnancy. For example, if you could touch your toes before pregnancy but now your hands can go flat on the floor, just stick with touching your toes.