Before we dive into the details of my pregnancy fitness routine, I will also preface this by saying that for the first full 20 weeks of my pregnancy, I was so ill with hyperemesis gravidarum that I could barely sit up. Working out was simply out of the question. On some days, I could make it out for a short walk, but that was rare (as in, I think it happened three times… in 20 weeks). It was a rough time, but eventually I began to feel more like a real person after I passed the 20 week mark and I was able to start exercising again. As the nausea abated, I really wanted to make physical exercise a priority because I had become so physically weak after being bed-ridden for so long. I felt it was important to build back strength and stamina prior to labor and delivery, so got serious about developing a workout regimen.
So now that I’ve tackled that fun bit of information, I’m happy to share the pregnancy fitness routine I’ve been doing since week 21-22. Here we go:
Prenatal Trainer Workouts
I’ve been working out with a prenatal trainer twice a week, for an hour at a time. While it’s definitely an investment, I can say without question that it’s been worth every penny. Not only is my trainer amazing and super knowledgeable, but she also helps hold me accountable. If I didn’t have someone else (who I’ve pre-paid) showing up, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to make it out of bed most days. If you’re looking for a prenatal trainer of your own, ask your obstetrician, other moms, and Facebook groups for recommendations. Just be sure to find one that’s specifically trained and certified in prenatal training because they will not only keep you safe, but they will also know which muscle groups to target that will be a benefit to you during labor, delivery, and recovery.
Prenatal Workout classes
Every week, I try to fit in at least one or two prenatal workout classes. I’m a big fan of the Mirror in-home fitness system, as I’ve discussed before. During pregnancy, I’ve typically tried to do two of their 30-minute prenatal workouts a week (pilates, yoga, barre, interval training, bodyweight exercises… I like to mix it up). If my schedule is packed, I’ll try to at least squeeze in one of their 15-minute prenatal workouts. Even if you don’t have a Mirror, I recommend asking your local gyms and studios if they offer any maternity-specific classes.
(FYI, You can use my promo code ORTON3 to get your first 3 months of Mirror for free!!)
An important word of caution about fitness classes when pregnant: Personally, I think it’s important to be very careful about regular workout classes that are not specifically designed for pregnant women. If you’ve ever been to a regular fitness class (anything from pilates, to barre, to spinning, etc.), you know that instructors typically ask attendees if anyone is pregnant at the start of class so that they can advise on necessary modifications. However, over the course of a long class, instructors can easily forget the one pregnant person in a room full of 35 people and absentmindedly fail to mention specific exercises pregnant women should change or avoid altogether. Of course, it isn’t intentional and shouldn’t happen, but when someone is teaching the same class several times a day, it’s understandable that they might go into auto-pilot and simply forget about you. All of this is not to say that you shouldn’t take regular fitness classes, just simply do your research ahead of time to make sure your instructors are experienced and trained in prenatal. You should also arrive early to class and make sure that you have time to speak to the instructor about the fact that you’re pregnant, and confirm any modifications you need to make during the class. You can also ask for the most convenient spot in the room for you to set up your mat, so that it’s easy for the instructor to keep an eye on you and advise you on modifications. This will also help ensure you’re in the instructor’s direct field of vision so they don’t forget.
Prenatal massages have really helped during my pregnancy. As you know, I am a huge fan of Zeel, a massage service that comes right to your home (and is available nation-wide!), which has been a godsend and another luxury that’s been worth every penny. Some of the benefits of prenatal massage that have really made a huge impact for me are tension relief, lymphatic drainage (which has really helped with swelling), and preventing/alleviating back pain. Can’t recommend it during pregnancy enough!
Use my promo code MARYORTON at Zeel to get $20 off your first massage.
50 Squats Per Day
Every day, regardless of my schedule, I set a goal to accomplish 50 squats. This might sound like a ton, but it isn’t. I don’t always do them all at once; some days, I will split them up into small increments, and other days I’ll do two sets of 25. Squats are one of the most beneficial exercises you can do in general, but they’re especially great for pregnant women because they help to strengthen your pelvic floor (apparently even more so than kegel exercises, believe it or not) and they make a significant difference in preventing lower back and pelvic pain throughout your pregnancy by strengthening your glutes and stabilizing your pelvis. Strong leg muscles that come with squats are also a benefit, as you’ll have more endurance in birth positions during labor. If nothing else, I always set the goal to accomplish my squats for the day. I’ve been known to do this while brushing my teeth, in between meetings, truly anywhere I can find the time.
Aside from trying to go for walks as much as possible, that’s it! Again, it’s important to reiterate that I am not a doctor, or a certified trainer. These are simply the exercises I’ve chosen to do during my pregnancy—and I’ve made these choices with the approval of my doctor. I highly recommend discussing any fitness routine you’re considering doing during pregnancy with your own physician, because there are conditions and situations that may require you to avoid certain exercises. For example, if your baby is in breech position in your third trimester, squats might not be a good idea because they can make the baby descend further into your pelvis in that position. Always consult your doctor before doing any exercising while pregnant!