Being physically active throughout pregnancy is highly recommended and has great health benefits for both mum and baby, promotes better pregnancy outcomes and shorter labors. I've been aiming (not always successfully) to work out at least 3 times a week, combining a variety of different types of exercise. If you're pregnant, seek advice from your doctor or midwife about what exercises are adapted and appropriate for you.
Below are some of my favorite prenatal workouts with links to free online classes. I get bored if I do the same thing over and over again, so I try and change it up between yoga, pilates, toning classes and walking.
I love the website doyogawithme, it has a wide selection of free yoga videos, of all types and levels and they have a few prenatal yoga videos too. I particularly enjoy Fiji McAlpine's classes, which I did regularly before I was pregnant. She has a great prenatal power flow video for women in their first and second trimesters of pregnancy, I sometimes find prenatal yoga videos a little too easy and slow, Fiji's class is more dynamic and leaves me feeling both relaxed and like I've done a proper workout.
Click here for Fiji's free online prenatal yoga class.
Another free online prenatal yoga video I love, which is more adapted for third trimester of pregnancy of for women who haven't practised yoga before, is Sarah Kamrath's prenatal kundalini yoga.
Living in Myanmar in 40°C heat, with polluted busy roads and potholed or non-existant sidewalks doesn't make for very pleasurable walks, but now that I'm back in Europe on holiday I'm loving going for walks by the lake, into town or up in the mountains.
Walking is a great form of prenatal exercise as it can be safely maintained throughout the whole 9 months of pregnancy, you can adapt the length and intensity of your walks to suit your level of fitness, walking can get your heart rate up, you don't need any expensive equipment and you can go for a walk wherever and whenever suits you. Make sure you wear comfortable supportive shoes to protect your back and knees.
Similar to yoga, prenatal pilates is great to increase strength, for relaxation and stretching. Try the 10 minute solution prenatal pilates classes free on youtube. You can do all of them together for a 50 minute workout or separate them out, depending on how much time and energy you have.
Part 1 - standing pilates
Part 2 - core pilates
Part 3 - pilates for buns and thighs
Part 4 - total body pilates
Part 5 - pilates for flexibility
Find out what classes are available in your area and make sure that your instructor knows you are pregnant and has received proper training to do classes with pregnant women. I do toning classes twice a week, they're great for muscle strengthening and stamina building and can easily be adapted for pregnancy.
Tips for exercising safely during pregnancy
From what I've read and seen online these are the main recommendations for safe exercise during pregnancy:
- Ask your doctor or midwife for advice
- Don't take up new and intense forms of exercise during pregnancy, such as running, if you were not already doing these prior to being pregnant
- Avoid exercises where you have to lie flat on your back as the weight from your growing uterus will put pressure on the vein that brings blood and oxygen to your baby and can lead to dizziness
- Listen to your body and don't measure your performance against what you were able to do before you were pregnant, pregnancy is a time to stay healthy and fit, but not a time to push yourself too far.
- And most of all... Enjoy it :)