Exercise & Pregnancy: 

What to do, what not to do and what if you just can't be effed?

In this article we chatted with our prenatal qualified trainers about all things pregnancy & exercise. Chloe & Ellie have been working with mummas in studio & online, to help them stay fit, healthy & strong during their pregnancy whilst keeping their growing bub safe. 

In this article we'll cover:


  • When you need to make changes to your exercise routine
  • What changes in your body impact your ability to do certain exercises
  • And any movements that should be avoided when pregnant

The most common question raised is do I need to stop exercising as soon as I find out I’m pregnant?

The simple answer is no. As long as you’re a low-risk pregnancy, whatever level of exercise you were doing before conception is generally safe to continue until week 13 (some say week 16). Once you hit week 13, we recommend chatting to your GP or Obstetrician to get the all clear for a prenatal program.


Because of the joys of the first trimester, a lot of women won’t feel well enough to exercise until after week 13 (I certainly didn't), and if that’s you, don’t worry! The most important thing is to listen to your body. Rest when you need, exercise when you want and eat all the food.

What are some key changes in the body that can impact your exercise routine?

Second Trimester (week 13-26)

  • Increase in hormones - your body is pumping full of pregnancy hormones, including relaxin, which will loosen ligaments, tendons and muscles. You may think you're becoming more flexible but be wary of your range of movement to avoid injury. Because of this boost in hormones, you may notice symptoms of Carpel Tunnel Syndrome - meaning you may start to get joint pain, particularly when working on your wrists.
  • Weakening in pelvic floor muscles as your body prepares for birth, something that is important to focus on in any prenatal program.
  • Pain & discomfort in your lower back and hips with your growing uterus.
  • You'll start to notice a reduced centre of gravity meaning your balance will begin to be impacted.
  • Lower than usual energy levels (which, let's be honest will continue throughout the entire pregnancy).


Third Trimester (week 27-40)

  • As the baby grows, your balance and centre of gravity will continue to worsen. Most women gain between 11-16KG in pregnancy, making you very front heavy & a constant tip-risk.
  • Increase in relaxin hormone in the third trimester meaning your ligaments and muscles become even looser. Be careful not to overstretch your muscles.

What movements should be avoided during pregnancy?

Second Trimester (week 13-26) 

  • 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 (week 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!

What week of pregnancy is it safe to exercise until? 

This completely depends on the Mum, if you’re feeling great, it is safe to continue exercising right up until your due date. However, as always it is important to listen to your body & rest when you need it. You've just grown a tiny human & a whole new organ (the placenta) - so please, when you feel it's time to stop, stop! 


It is always recommended to follow a prenatal specific program, particularly from week 16 of pregnancy as regular exercise programs will not take into account the above "do's and don'ts" of pregnancy which may put you & your growing bub at risk.

Does Callie offer a Prenatal program? 

We're glad you asked! We are launching our pre-natal program at the end of October! It will be broken into trimesters - so you're able to purchase workouts based on your stage of pregnancy. See below for more details!

What’s included in the Callie PreNatal Pilates Program?

  • 01

    Intro Pilates session for each trimester

    Includes an overview of each trimester as well as a 30 minute session providing all the information you need to feel confident to continue exercising into your second & third trimester. These class will be specific to your second & third trimester and will go into detail about what movements to avoid or change & why.

  • 02

    Facebook Community with other pregnant Mummas & Zoom PT Consult

    Access to our growing community of pregnant Mums where you can ask questions to other Mums, and our qualified prenatal trainers. Option 15 min Zoom PT consult prior to starting your prenatal program to discuss any injuries/concerns outside of pregnancy

  • 03

    Library of pre-natal classes

    5 x 30-40 minute pilates sessions designed specifically for each trimester. All classes will only use what is inside the Callie at-home workout kit so you won't need anything but your kit & an internet connection 

What’s included in the Callie PreNatal Pilates Program?


Includes an overview of each trimester as well as a 30 minute session providing all the information you need to feel confident to continue exercising into your second & third trimester. These class will be specific to your second & third trimester and will go into detail about what movements to avoid or change & why.

Access to our growing community of pregnant Mums where you can ask questions to other Mums, and our qualified prenatal trainers. Option 15 min Zoom PT consult prior to starting your prenatal program to discuss any injuries/concerns outside of pregnancy

5 x 30-40 minute pilates sessions designed specifically for each trimester. All classes will only use what is inside the Callie at-home workout kit so you won't need anything but your kit & an internet connection 

Register your interest in our Prenatal Pilates

Name:

Email:

Are you currently pregnant?:

Do you have any questions?