What exercises should be avoided in pregnancy?

first trimester (up to 13 weeks)

If you're like me (and many other women) who suffer morning (all-day) sickness - your first trimester might be a bit of a write-off. If you're one of the lucky few who have the energy and motivation during your first trimester, there are no major changes you need to make to your exercise routine when you first find out you're pregnant. Everything you were doing prior is said to be safe up until 13 weeks.

Second trimester (weeks 13-26)

Once you hit trimester 2 - hopefully you're feeling a little more human & ready to start exercising again. Some exercises/movements to avoid:

  • Sudden changes in movement to minimise the risk of dizziness and fainting.
  • The sit up movement - although it is still safe to work your core muscles, the crunching movement should be avoided. Even outside of exercise (think sitting up & getting out of bed). When getting up, the safest way is to roll onto your side to avoid the "ab crunch" movement.
  • Wide squats and deep lunges should be done with caution. You want to avoid deep knee bending exercises, this is your excuse to stay above 90 degrees in your lunges! This is because of your increase in hormones loosening your muscles, leading to your increased risk of strains.
  • Supine exercise position (lying on your back). This is because the weight of the baby and uterus is pushing on your main vein carrying bloody back to the heart. Lucky for you, in pilates we love side lying exercises, so there are still plenty of safe-to-do lying exercises. 
  • High impact movements such as running and jumping are best to avoid as they can increase your body temperature to an unsafe level for the baby.
  • Inner thigh work is best to avoid as these muscles connect to your pubic bone. You are at an increased risk of straining these muscles or causing separation of the pubic bone due to your loosened muscles. 

third Trimester (weeks 27-40)

Once you hit the third trimester things start to become more difficult again. In addition to the second trimester movements to avoid, you want to:

  • Limit standing exercises - The baby is getting bigger, your balance is getting worse, so it is often best to tailor exercises around seated work, focusing on the upper & lower body. 
  • Avoid holding your breath through any exercise as both you and the baby need a flow of oxygen. Holding your breath can also make you dizzy and lead to fainting which isn't good for any body!
  • This is not so much a movement to avoid - but to focus on. Your glutes, chest & back are taking a lot of the weight of the baby, so it is important to maintain you strength in these areas.
  • It’s also a good idea to start focusing on the arms & shoulders. Once you have the baby you're going to be carrying around a 4-10KG weight for most of your day. Hello toned arms, shoulders & back!

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