Navigating Pregnancy & Exercise

By July 2, 2018 No Comments

A few clients recently shared me that they are expecting again. These clients are regulars in AMC’s Fit & Fab Small Group Postnatal training sessions. They have asked very common and important questions concerning their pregnancy and how it will effect their exercise routines. I want to share our dialogue with you:


Q: I’m about 6 weeks pregnant, so it’s very early. I have some questions as I re-think my exercise routine. When does it make sense to switch to AMC’s prenatal classes? I’m guessing part of this depends on how I’ve been feeling, which is pretty well for the most part. I find that I tire more easily and I’ve had some on-and-off nausea. I’m also not sure what is safe and recommended to do at this point – I didn’t really exercise when I was pregnant with my daughter, so this is new territory for me.

A: You could stay in the Fit & Fab program for as long as you feel comfortable. The most important element is that you continue to exercise. You’ve been doing AMC workouts for the last year—given you have a healthy pregnancy—realistically you could do the same workouts well into your 2nd trimester. It’s really what you feel comfortable doing. I can give you appropriate modifications for your body’s specific needs if you want to stay with postnatal training for the next couple of months.

For prenatal training, I have the women doing similar exercises as Fit & Fab as they are relatable for increasing overall strength, they just move through the exercises at a slower pace and don’t include plyometrics (double jump squats, jumping lunges, mountain climbers, etc). And of course there are more specific prenatal exercises that will enhance core strength, such as deep belly breaths, and more stabilization/balance exercises that are effective for each trimester.

You may find over the next few weeks that you will begin to feel your heart rate elevate quicker than usual, and that’s due to physiological changes in your body— such as increase in blood volume. It’s a normal side effect of early pregnancy, and obviously more pronounced/expected in 2nd and 3rd trimester when a bigger baby is taking up space inside your torso and compressing your organs.

“I’ve noticed that my heart rate elevates quicker already.” 

Q: What are some warning signs that I should slow down?

A: Great question! With your doctor’s approval, you could continue all your regular workouts, including running, for as long as its comfortable for you.

Two signs to slow down your activity during pregnancy

  1. The best way to monitor your intensity is with rate of perceived exertion (RPE) or the talk test. On a scale 1-10, your RPE could reach up to a 7-8 on the RPE scale. Or simply use the talk test to guide you. You should be able to speak a sentence while working out, and it would be okay if it were a labored sentence…you’re still talking.
  2. If you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded. This may be due from low blood sugar levels, or you have quickly changed positions (such as going from a plank to standing up, or doing a walk-out plank where your head is physically lower than your heart). The best way to prevent lightheadedness is to eat a small snack 30-45 minutes before a workout—a banana, handful of raisins, piece of fruit would do the trick, ideally 100 calories or so. A snack will keep your sugars regulated—also be sure to stay hydrated before, during and after a workout.

Currently I have three pregnant women participating in AMC’s Small Group Postnatal training program. When they are ready (typically sometime in 2nd trimester), they will transition to our Small Group Prenatal training program. If you are experiencing a healthy pregnancy, your body and growing baby will continue to reap the benefits from your activity.

ACOG Guidelines pregnancy quote

We now know through mounting research that exercise has many benefits for both mom and baby. ACOG recommends women with uncomplicated pregnancies should be encouraged to engage in aerobic and strength conditioning exercises before, during, and after pregnancy. Regular physical activity during pregnancy improves or maintains physical fitness, helps with weight management, reduces the risk of gestational diabetes in obese women, and enhances psychologic well-being.

Let Active Moms’ Club help you prepare for childbirth. Visit our website to learn more and to register for our special Prenatal Fitness Fundamentals Class, or AMC’s ongoing Small Group Prenatal Fitness program.

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Read other related articles from Active Moms’ Club blog:

4 Myths About Prenatal Exercise

How to Prepare Your Body For Childbirth

How to Give Birth Like a Champ! One Mom’s Story