Exercising Through the Trimesters

Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Information on pre and postnatal fitness are a reflection of my training, education and experience as a Fit for Birth Prenatal and Postatal Exercise Specialist, a Personal Trainer, Doula, as well as my own personal experiences with pregnancy and fitness. 
I am not a doctor or midwife, nor am I your doctor or midwife. It's always important to discuss starting a new exercise routine with your care provider.

Good morning! You may have noticed a few layout changes happening throughout the day yesterday and over the past few days, on the blog. Have My Cake has been going through a little bit of revamping lately. I hope that wasn't too confusing for anyone. All changes are now complete, and there shouldn't be any more disruption.

I've been wanting to write this post about the considerations and changes when exercising through each trimester, for a few weeks now. I actually wrote it once before but I felt like something was missing...so I wasn't ready to post it. Well, something hit me yesterday and it felt like the right time.

"There is a secret in our culture, and it's not that birth is painful. It's that women are strong". 
-Laura Stavoe Harm

In the previous prenatal fitness post I talked about the long list of great benefits for mom and baby, of exercising through pregnancy. If you want to go back and check it out, you can find it here.

In 40 weeks we create an 8ish pound person, with his/her own set of features and own personality. It actually is pretty incredible. Our blood levels change, hormone levels change, metabolism shifts, our ligaments loosen, our bones become softer, we grown a new organ, our entire core separates, to make room for a human to grow...and then our pelvis unhinges like a snake to let that human out. Every time I think about it...it just blows my mind.

When I became pregnant with Aria I was determined to stay as active as I could, for as long as I could. I didn't really understand the magnitude of the changes that my body would experience until I lived them. Then once I began researching and then took the Fit for Birth course for certification in pre and post natal exercise, and began training mama's...I understood on a whole new level.

Physical Changes

1st Trimester
Breast Tenderness
Frequent Urination
Weight Gain
Pelvic Pain
Joint laxity

The first trimester is always the hardest for me to keep up with my training. It's just so debilitatingly exhausting. Not to mention the nausea. Some women actually say that exercise helps with their nausea, which is great! I have not had the pleasure of experiencing that.

During the first trimester I take any chance that I don't feel like absolute hell, and that's when I exercise. I don't keep a strict schedule but I do make sure to get in as many training days as I can. While exercising doesn't help my nausea, it 100% definitely helps my mental and emotional state. It gives me a sense of normalcy on an otherwise out of control ride.

One big benefit to staying active during that first trimester of hell, is that your placenta develops during the first trimester. Larger growing placentas have been observed in women who exercise during pregnancy. Which means increased oxygen and nutrient exchange for your baby!

2nd Trimester
Increased Abdomen Size
Fetal movements
Braxton Hicks
Increased Energy
Back Pain
Abdominal Discomfort
Round Ligament Pain
Leg Cramps
Darkening of Skin
Itchy Skin
Joint Instability
Center of Gravity Shifts

The second trimester is always so good to me. My nausea disappears and my energy is back in full effect. I'm able to keep up with my training again and I feel great while doing it. I do make sure to listen to my body and make changes off as needed. But, I take advantage of the overall strong feeling and do as much as my body feels is good. Which right now is lots and lots of running.

3rd Trimester
Weight Gain
Braxton Hicks
Increased Fatigue
Shortness of Breath
Pressure in lower belly
Varicose Veins
Spider Veins
Center of Gravity Off
Hip and Pelvic Discomfort

With Aria I trained right up until the day before I went into labor, which was exactly the plan. Labor was the big event and I went into it feeling strong and prepared. Of coarse the reality of it was scary as shit at the time. But I felt confident in my body and it's strength to do what it needed to do. And it did.

Additionally, because I exercised through pregnancy, my recovery time postpartum was really fast!

This time around I plan to do the same. My workouts this time around include more core work than with Aria though. A lot of it has to do with the fact that my belly has grown bigger than it was the first time around, much earlier. I want to maintain a strong TVA to reduce the risk of diastasis recti and because I'm hoping to keep up running until closer to the very end. With Aria I fizzled out of running and switched to full time spinning right around 34ish weeks. This time I'm going to see if some extra core work can help me to hold on longer.



Relaxin's job is to do exactly what it sounds like. It relaxes. It relaxes the tissues and joints in the body and peaks at the end of the first trimester. It can make you more flexible, however, it also increases the instability of joints and increases the likelihood of over-stretching and/or hyper extending. That's why it's important to recognize and maintain your safe range of motion.

I tend to feel the discomforts of relaxin, mostly in my hips and pelvis. I feel it as early as the first trimester. Then throughout pregnancy it always creeps up. The excess relaxin causes my pelvis to shift, which is common. I go to an awesome chiropractor who helps keep that pelvis in check.

Two issues that are commonly associated with the laxity are diastasis recti and pelvic girdle pain. The good news is that by training and strengthening the proper muscles, you can minimize your risk of both!


Pregnancy increases the body's metabolic demand because it is providing nutrients and ridding of metabolic waste for both the mother as well as the baby. Because of that extra work, increased heat production occurs.

Luckily for us, research shows that a woman's body can dissipate her own heat production, when it is created by exercise. The key is ensuring that you are hydrated enough!

Temperature Checklist:

Be aware of temps in exercise area
Avoid heated pools, steam rooms and saunas because the heat is constant and there is no relief for your body to cool down
Avoid wearing too much clothing
Avoid exercising outdoors in hot temperatures when not familiar with it.

Additionally, the stresses associated with exercise help prepare baby to deal with the stresses of labor and delivery!

I do exercise in the heat because I'm used to it and I really enjoy it. I always always always have water and access to water during my workouts. I wear cool clothing. When it's really hot, I shove ice cubes down my sports bra (Trust me, it works). I also run routes with as much shade as possible.

One last note on hydration...drink, drink, drink! Dehydration can actually cause your uterus to contract prematurely, in an attempt to protect baby. Our bodies need the equivalent of a cup of water an hour to replace amniotic fluid.


In 2002 the heart rate guideline of 140 bpm for pregnant women during exercise, was revised. The ACOG published a revised guideline removed this limitation stating "target heart rates cannot be used to monitor exercise intensity in pregnancy".

Since each woman is different and fitness levels vary, each woman's target heart rate will also vary. Additionally, each trimester can reflect a different heart rate level, due to the changes going on inside the body at that time.
For example, during the first trimester, heart rates are elevated because of the dramatic changes the body is experiencing and the incredibly increased hormone levels. Even high performing athletes experience increased heart rate during training that is usually easier level for them.

The Pre and Post Natal Exercise Certification Course (Fit for Birth) talked about how professional female athletes discover they are pregnant before even taking a test, because they detect dramatic changes in their heart rate during the first trimester. Pretty amazing huh?

Remember to respect your changing body, while giving yourself and your baby what is good for you. Hopefully some of this information can help you take care while keeping up your exercise routine through pregnancy.

Please vote for us by simply clicking the banner below. 

Top Mommy Blogs - Mom Blog Directory

No comments:

Post a Comment

Designed with ♥ by Nudge Media Design