Exercising whilst Pregnant – Is it Safe?


Exercising whilst pregnant…yes it is safe, and yes it will help you on so many levels during, as well as post, pregnancy.


The reasons for doing so are not just about keeping your body “in shape”, that’s not really the focus. But of course, if you feel better about your body, it will help you to embrace the changes and enjoy the journey more than you would if you, let’s say, let yourself go!


Having spoken with many women who have had babies, this appears to be something that is all too common in pregnancy, as let’s face it, it’s the best excuse to sit around, put your feet up, and eat cake. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this, now and again, but focus for rest should be on nurturing and eating a whole pack of biscuits every day isn’t exactly looking after your body. I know some women who have found it extremely hard post-baby when the 4 stone they gained during pregnancy doesn’t fall off like they expected it to.


Pregnancy is a time to nourish and to take care of your body more than ever before. It’s going to be the most extraordinary journey you have ever been on, so helping yourself to enjoy it by taking care of your general well-being, will also help your moods, eating habits, sleep and positive outlook. What I feel is most valuable about exercising during pregnancy is the mental and emotional strength you will gain.


Sadly, many women are frightened of exercising when pregnant, often because of “scare stories” and a lack of information available for pregnant women. Unfortunately, there is more confusion than anything else. I’m here to tell you that there are many benefits to exercising whilst pregnant.


Keeping moderatively active can help to decrease any pain or discomfort that you may experience from the structural changes affecting your body. I suffered various niggles throughout my pregnancy, from sciatica to backache, and found that keeping active and gently stretching really helped to keep these niggles at bay. Feeling fit and strong throughout your pregnancy can help you to better embrace the journey, as well go through labour, and after your baby is born.


Adapting to life with your baby can be hard at times, particularly finding time for yourself as a new mum, let alone finding time to workout. Plus you will no doubt want to spend all your time with your new baby like I did. I’m pleased I continued to workout throughout my pregnancy as despite having to work on a lot of core rehab post-baby, I feel my body bounced back a lot quicker because I looked after myself whilst pregnant.


If you weren’t previously active prior to pregnancy, I personally do not think now is the time for you to start throwing any heavy weights around. But there’s plenty you can do. You can focus on bodyweight, use resistance bands & cables, and even some lighter weight dumbbells. Always consult with your healthcare professional if you are not sure.


Regular walking or swimming is also great and will make you feel good. With walking, as with any exercise whilst pregnant, make sure you take note of your posture and alignment of your body and pelvis. With so much more load to carry around, it can be easy to fall into bad postural habits, which can lead to discomfort and injury.


As your pregnancy progresses, you may find walking difficult, so this is when swimming can be an easier option. You may also want to decrease the intensity and reduce the load from any weights you may be using, particularly lower body exercises. There will be enough pressure in your pelvis and pelvic floor as your bump gets bigger!


Take time to stretch and relax. Some good stretches include:

  • Hamstring stretch with a band (lying on the floor and wrapping the band around your foot, keeping your leg straight and gently pulling it towards your body).
  • Standing quadriceps stretch (hold onto something for support, pull your heel to your bum and push your hips forwards).
  • Kneeling upper body swiss ball stretch for chest/shoulders and back (kneeling on floor with knees quite wide, arms outstretched over a swiss ball. Roll it away from you for more of a stretch.
  • Standing calves stretch off a step (hold onto something for support. Drop heels off the edge of the steps, feeling the stretch in your calves. You can do this one leg at a time or both)


You may have heard of Diastasis Recti (abdominal separation). It is nothing to be worried about and it happens to most women at some point during their pregnancy. But it is something to be aware of, especially post-pregnancy.


Where I mention this in the workouts below (DR), be conscious of creating any intra-abdominal pressure and pushing your stomach out whilst exercising, as well as with daily activities. It is important to maintain a strong core but it is not necessary to work on your abs. Also, for anything on a bench i.e. incline DB press, you will want to “log roll” onto and off the bench before picking up the weights so you are not leaning back or getting up using your abdominals (pushing your tummy out) to do so. Same goes for getting in and out of bed, and up and down from a chair.


Your core and DR is something you will want to keep an eye on throughout your pregnancy and any exercises you do simply by placing a hand on your tummy whilst you work out and feeling for any gap in your abs.
Here a few examples of workouts for each trimester.


1st & 2nd Trimester:




A1 BB standing shoulder press, 12-15 reps

A2 Resistance band seated row,12-15 reps (DR)

3 sets


B1 Lying DB twist chest press, 12 reps

B2 Cable straight arm pulldown (DR), 12 reps

B3 DB semi-supinated grip biceps curls, 15 reps

3 sets


B1 Standing face pull, 15 reps (DR)

B2 Triceps dips, 15 reps

B3 DB/Plates bent over rear delts, 15 reps

3 sets




A1 DB backwards lunges, 15-20 reps e/leg

A2 Standing cable glute kick-back (or use ankle weights), 15-20 reps e/leg

A3 Side lying abductors (ankle weights), 20 reps e/leg

3-4 sets


B1 DB step ups, 15-20 reps e/leg

B2 DB Walking lunges, 30 reps alternate legs

B3 DB single leg standing calve raises, 20 reps e/leg

B4 Shoulders-elevated glute bridge, 30 reps

3-4 sets


CORE (1ST trimester)


A1 Plank, 30-40 seconds

A2 Side plank, 20-30 seconds each side

A3 Swiss ball knee tucks, 10-15 reps

2-3 sets


CORE (2nd trimester)


A1: Cable or band standing Pallof press, 15 e/side

A2: Slow mountain climbers, 20 alternate legs

A3: Rack farmers carry, 20-30 seconds each side

2-3 sets



3rd Trimester




A1 Curtsey lunge into wide squat, 15 reps each leg

A2 Squat position cable row (DR), 15-20 reps

A3 Shoulders-elevated glute bridge, 30 reps

A4 DB seated lateral raise (SS grip), 15-20 reps

A5 Cardio interval 3 mins (optional)

3 sets


B! KB deadlift, 20 reps

B1 KB swing (DR), 20 reps

B3 BW squats, 20 reps

3 sets


CORE (3rd trimester)


A1 Cable or band kneeling pallof press, 15 each side

A2 Cable straight-arm pulldown with knee raise, 20 alternate sides

A3 Carry bag farmers walk, 20-30 seconds each side


The goal from working out whilst pregnant is so you can have a healthy, active pregnancy and enjoy moving your body as it grows your beautiful baby. If you’re pregnant and have any questions about how to have a fit & healthy pregnancy, contact me at [email protected], or download my Yummy Mummy Guide to Pregnancy here.