Prenatal exercises are special exercises designed for pregnancy workouts. They help to have a safe pregnancy and a healthier baby. They also help you recover faster to your pre-pregnancy shape after your delivery.

You should work out a routine and follow it early not just when you are pregnant but when you have planned to become pregnant.

These simple yet very effective exercises are fit and safe for every trimester and just for any particular trimester. You should perform them without fear or worry throughout your pregnancy.

They develop your overall body health and increase the health of your body organs such as the heart, lungs and muscles, and other tissues.

You don’t want to develop just your abs, or thighs because pregnancy is a load on your whole body increasing the demand on your heart, lungs, and more.

Some of them are cardio exercises while some like yoga and light weights help to increase endurance and muscles.

A combination of exercises will be ideal to have an overall healthy picture and is explained below.

And follow the exercise routine well into your post-pregnancy days. However, give your body six to eight weeks to heal after childbirth.

Exercising during pregnancy does benefit the pregnant woman but only if done within the safety guidelines and further only if you do exercises, which are considered safe for the pregnancy.

The safe way to start pregnancy workouts

Moderate exercise during pregnancy should be a regular affair with a 30-minute session every day as recommended by The College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The benefits of pregnancy exercises are too good to ignore. Do not start with 30 minutes, if you have not exercised in a while.

Build up those minutes gradually over time. You could start with three alternate days a week and increase gradually to 5 days a week and if possible to seven days a week.

The duration of each session too should be gradually increased to the recommended 30 minutes. However, it is strongly recommended that you consult your doctor before starting your pregnancy exercises. There are some conditions that are contraindications to pregnancy workouts.

Best and safe prenatal and pregnancy exercises

The following exercises are considered safe and good during your pregnancy. Remember to do a little warming up and then gradually build up the pace. After the exercises, spend some time cooling down. You can warm up and cool down with a few stretches.

Walking

Walking is one of the most simple and easy safe pregnancy exercise and you can vary your pace as per your comfort level. Know how to walk properly and how to choose your walking route. Remember to walk on a plain level surface. Avoid uneven walking surfaces for fear of injury to joints and ligaments. Be sure to wear the right footwear that will make your walking comfortable.

Brisk walking uphill can increase your fitness. However, remember to follow the safety guidelines explained in the post linked above.

Jogging

Jogging on a plain surface too is easy and it helps to quickly build up your heart and body. However, exercise moderation.

Doctors say that women who were already jogging regularly before pregnancy can continue doing so while pregnant.

But, if you weren’t running before, it is highly recommended that you don’t start now. Walking will suit you better under such circumstances.

Swimming

Swimming, according to experts is the best safe pregnancy exercise. It exercises almost all parts of the body and helps you feel weightless thereby lessening the burden of the additional pregnancy weight.

Swimming helps to keep your body cool while exercising and prevents overheating. The buoyancy of the water keeps off the pressure off your abdomen and lower back, giving much-needed relief. It also improves blood circulation and reduces pedal edema and discomfort.

Swimming can safely be done safely in all three trimesters. Just remember to swim in the shallow in case of leg cramps where you can stand and take a break.

Aquanatal exercises

Water-based exercises are specifically designed for pregnant women during pregnancy and after birth. They are done standing in the water and under the supervision of qualified fitness instructors.

Aquanatal exercises lessen the burden on the joints and reduce the risk of falls and injuries. These exercises also lessen the swelling of the legs, which is commonly seen in pregnancy.

They reduce pregnancy tiredness, reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, and help in a healthy pregnancy weight gain. Your baby will have a healthier heart rate and a good birth weight.

Yoga

Yoga and breathing exercises are of great help to expecting mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth. It makes the body more flexible, improves posture, and eases many pregnancy problems such as morning sickness, swelling of legs, mood swings, and more.

However, you should supplement yoga by walking a few times a week to enhance cardiovascular benefits. Yoga is gaining popularity because of its benefits on the body as well as the mind.

Pilates

Pilates is a gentle form of exercise considered good for pregnancy and aims at building stronger abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.

Some of these exercises are performed while kneeling on hands and knees and this helps to take a lot of stress off your back and pelvis. They involve certain movement patterns of the stomach and pelvic muscles.

Pilates also helps to facilitate the correct positioning of the baby for easier labor. Besides increasing the flexibility and strength of your body, they also help your breathing.

This exercise builds a strong mindset and helps to relax and relieve stress. You could google pilates and pregnancy, and watch a video for more details. Here is a link to one such video on pilates.

Training with low weights

Weight training is a good way to tone and build stronger muscles. If you were training with weights before becoming pregnant, you can continue but only with lighter weights as advised and in certain permissible positions only.

Aerobics

Joining classes for aerobics of low intensity with other members in similar situations will ensure regularity and safety due to supervision by experts.

Aerobic exercises increase your body temperature due to increased metabolism to provide energy and therefore, you should do these aerobic exercises till the point that your body temperature does not rise. Aerobics should be of low impact or no impact.

Cycling

Cycling on a stationary bicycle will also do you good and is a safe pregnancy exercise. Avoid cycling on the road as there is an increased risk of joint and ligament injury during pregnancy.

A fall on the abdomen could be disastrous. Do not overexert and exhaust yourself.

Kegel exercises during pregnancy

Doing kegel exercises regularly will strengthen the muscles of your bladder, bowels, and uterus. They also help to strengthen the vaginal muscles.

This helps to facilitate easier labor. These exercises also help to prevent unwanted symptoms of pregnancy such as loss of bladder control and hemorrhoids. They are also recommended after delivery to promote a quicker recovery.

Kegel exercises are done by contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. The action is similar to what you would do to stop your urine flow when passing urine or stopping the passing of stools or gas.

You should hold this contraction of your pelvic muscles till a slow count of five and then release. You should repeat 10 times to finish one set.

Do five such sets every day. When doing kegel exercises, do not move your legs, buttocks, and abdominal muscles. You could do this anywhere or at any time because nobody notices that you are doing them.

Which sports should you avoid during pregnancy?

You should avoid the following sports at all costs because they are not safe and carry the risk of injury from a fall or from being hit.

  •  Riding
  • Skiing on land or water
  • Gymnastics
  • Football
  • Hockey
  • Tennis
  • Squash
  • Cricket
  • Diving

What should be the frequency and intensity of your exercise during pregnancy?

Due to physical changes during pregnancy, it is important to exercise caution when exercising. There is the risk of harm to the pregnancy, the baby as well as the mother-to-be.

Frequency of exercise during pregnancy

Daily: Walking, stretching, Kegel exercises and light weight training, yoga.
Thrice a week: Low-impact aerobic activity like cycling on an exercise bike and swimming with warm-up and cooling-down stretches.

Intensity and duration of pregnancy exercises

You should do stretching and strengthening exercises 5 to 10 times a day and hold each position for a maximum of 30 seconds. Do not overstretch or overexert due to the risk of injury to joints.
You should do your aerobic activity in moderation for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not go out of breath and exhaust yourself. Please note that after the exercise, you should be able to walk and talk comfortably.