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Exercising Safely

Exercising Safely While Pregnant

Before beginning any exercise, you should first talk with your doctor or certified nurse midwife (CNM). Your doctor or CNM can tell you if exercising is safe for you.

Safety Tips:

  • Do low-impact exercises. Do exercises that are low-impact and low-stress on your body. Activities such as walking, swimming, and bicycling on a stationary bike are the safest exercises for most pregnant women. Most women can do these exercises through their third trimester.
  • Warm up. Be sure to warm up, stretch, start slowly, and cool down when you’re finished.
  • Protect your stomach. Activities that could cause injury to your stomach are not safe during pregnancy (for example basketball, bike riding, contact sports).
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to how your body is feeling. If something hurts or feels wrong, then don’t do it. Everyone’s body is different and will feel different during exercise.
  • Stay cool. Avoid getting too hot. Don’t exercise in extremely hot weather.
  • Make sure you can breathe comfortably. Never exercise to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness. This is a sign that your baby and your body cannot get the oxygen supply they need.
  • Drink water. Make sure to drink enough water and take breaks when you need them.
  • Stay upright. You should stay upright when you are exercising. Try not to lie on your back, especially after the first trimester (after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy). Lying on your back can lower your blood pressure. This can make you dizzy. Also your baby might have trouble getting the oxygen and nutrients they need.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. Your shoes should give you strong ankle and arch support.

Exceptions to Exercise during Pregnancy

Most women can safely exercise during pregnancy. However, there are a few women need to be extra careful. Doctors and CNMs may advise women with certain conditions not to exercise during pregnancy. These conditions include:

  • Had preterm (or premature) labor in this or another pregnancy
  • Have or had pregnancy complications, including lasting vaginal bleeding, incompetent cervix, pregnancy-induced hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Had an ultrasound that showed the baby is not growing as fast as he/she should
  • Have or had certain medical problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or thyroid disease

Basic Exercises

These simple exercises can help you get your body moving during pregnancy. It can help with some of the aches and pains that you may be feeling.  They are also great for getting your body ready for delivery. For most of these exercises, you’ll be able to do them anywhere and anytime.


These are the pelvic muscles that help you control your bladder. They are important during delivery. Making them stronger now can help when it’s time for delivery. You can figure out how to do a Kegel 2 different ways:

  1. Think about when you have gone to the bathroom to pee and used your muscles to stop the flow of pee mid-stream. These are the same muscles that Kegel exercises work. You can practice squeezing those muscles.
  2. It might be easier for you to feel your muscles working. You can try placing 2 fingers into your vagina, and close down on them with your muscles.

Once you have the movement down, repeat the motion about 3-5 times a day. Try not to tighten other muscles (stomach or legs, for example) at the same time. You want to focus on the muscles you’re exercising. Kegels are easy, and you can do them any time you have a few seconds- while sitting in your car, at your desk, or standing in line at the store.

Pelvic Tilt

This exercise is great if you have a sore back. Don’t forget to breathe during the stretch. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Stand with your back to a wall.
  2. Rotate your hips toward the wall. Your lower back will be flat against the wall.
  3. Push firmly to make your back touch the wall as much as you can.
  4. Hold for 3 counts.
  5. Release and repeat.

Once you have this movement down, you can also try it while sitting up. Here’s how:

  1. Sit up in a chair with your feet planted to the floor.
  2. Lay your hands down flat on your sides.
  3. Roll your hips back toward the chair’s back.
  4. Hold for 3 counts.
  5. Release and repeat.

Deep Breathing

This exercise is great for relaxation, and helps strengthen stomach muscles. It’s another way to prepare for labor and delivery. Here’s what to do:

  1. Lay down on one side.
  2. Bend your knees.
  3. Place your hands beneath your ribcage flat on your stomach.
  4. Through your nose, breath in deeply. You will feel your belly expand.
  5. Exhale hard through your mouth, like you’re blowing a balloon. Pull your belly in tight while you blow out. Blow out until it feels like there is nothing left in your stomach.
  6. Repeat.

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