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The Do's & Don'ts of Pregnancy

1st Trimester Do’s

The main objective here is to keep your body active and moving during the first stages of your pregnancy. The key during the first trimester is to set realistic goals that will be attainable and appropriately strenuous. Your body is undergoing dramatic changes, and difficult exercise may put too much strain on your body. Aim to do some type of movement practice 3-5 times each week. This can include walks, yoga, Pilates, gentle weightlifting, cycling, etc. 

Breathing Exercises

Another great tool to start now and continue throughout pregnancy will be breathing exercises. Intentional breathing is a great way to develop your mind-body connection with the pelvic floor and facilitate relaxation outside of exercise. Diaphragmatic breathing practice is a common place to start. If you have never heard of diaphragmatic breathing, find a follow-along video on YouTube. You can find plenty of helpful videos to use. 

1st Trimester Don’ts

As your belly bump develops during the 1st trimester, you need to be mindful of movements and positions that may put a strain on your uterus and surrounding structures. Avoid positions where you are lying on your stomach (locust pose, bow pose), avoid crunching movements (sit-ups, mountain climbers), and avoid deep twists (twisted chair pose, runner’s lunge). 

Exercise is extremely beneficial for both mother and child.

2nd Trimester Do’s

As your body’s adjustments to pregnancy settle, the 2nd trimester is often marked by increased energy levels and therefore increased capacity for exercise. Take advantage of this phase by adding strength exercises to your routine. This will prepare your body for carrying a fully developed 35-ish pound pregnancy. Focus on building strength while continuing to build cardio endurance by walking and cycling. Squats are a great tool to build strength during this phase as they build the biggest muscles in your body, and can help align your bone structure for delivery. 

2nd Trimester Don’ts

As your bump develops avoid lying on your back or in positions where the belly hangs beneath the spine. As your bump gets larger, its weight can compress and limit blood flow through the inferior vena cava and cause lightheadedness. The weight of your bump pulling down from the spine may also put strain on the core muscles which can contribute to diastasis recti.

Also, don’t do crunches, and don’t lie on your stomach for the rest of your pregnancy. The strain they put on your abdominal wall is no longer worth the value they provide in your exercise. Continue avoiding deep twists and being mindful during any twisting movements. 

Be mindful and gentle when doing twisting movements while pregnant.

3rd Trimester Do’s

Now that your bump is more fully developed, moving around throughout your day comes with new challenges. Focus on mobility work and practice getting up from the ground. Your energy levels may also start to decline as delivery gets closer, so be mindful of your energy levels as you go into an exercise session. Don’t feel pressure to complete strenuous exercises as your body needs rest during this demanding trimester. This trimester is your final preparation period for giving birth. Not only is exercise important, but substantial rest is also essential for your preparation. 

You can also start preparing for motherhood by doing lifting movements that mimic the more strenuous parts of early motherhood (putting a car seat into the car, picking up and carrying a baby carrier, and holding a baby for long periods). Functional exercises like the Pollouf press or DB oblique side bends are great for this. 

3rd Trimester Don’ts

As with the 2nd trimester don’t do the contraindicated movements: crunches or lie on your stomach. Also, stop doing any deep twisting and be extremely mindful while doing even gentle twists. Continue to avoid hanging belly positions and lying on your back for long periods. You may be able to make lying on your back by using pillows to elevate your shoulders slightly. 

“I ended up getting kind of excited to show the bump, as a badge of pride, like, ‘I’m a woman! Look at me making a human! I am a goddess!’” - Olivia Wilde


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