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The Best exercises for pregnancy

(What I wish every OB/ Midwife would recommend.)

Man, pregnancy can feel so scary. In the early days you might be feeling too exhausted or sick, or you might not even know you're pregnant until almost your second trimester. (Woops. Sorry, Piper.) This can vary for everyone, and it can feel super overwhelming. Some people will insist you need to just stay in bed, some will shame you for not doing enough, or too little. As someone who has worked with prenatal women for almost two decades and experienced three pregnancies herself, is what I recommend.

  1. Breathing and building a strong pelvic floor/ core relationship

Your pelvic floor is like a hammock of muscles that support your organs and growing baby. You’ll want it strong to support you during pregnancy and postpartum, and flexible enough to allow your baby to come out. Deep breathing exercises can help tone and relax your pelvic floor, and create awareness and strength in your deep core tissues (like the transverse abdominis and multifidus). These exercises you can do in your earliest days postpartum and can assist with your posture. All good things, with far less kegeling. 

  1. Functional exercises to support daily living

Being a parent is hard work, mentally and physically. Being able to lift a carseat, load a stroller into the car, pull a wiggling newborn out of the tub, and the many, many exercises you will do on a daily basis, is essential. I think it’s absolutely critical that we train for this during pregnancy. You will be hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, and dealing with all types of load in various directions. I will say this over and over, the work you do during pregnancy will directly impact your recovery when it comes to postpartum. (I will also step back and acknowledge that this is a privilege. Many people truly suffer during pregnancy and are focusing on just surviving throughout.)

Exercises like the squat, deadlift, woodchop, press, row, and lunge, mimic these daily activities. All of my clients have benefited from learning the mechanics of these exercises, and how to properly carry them out in their daily lives. Over decades of working with prenatal and postpartum parents, I truly believe that we have it backwards. Pregnancy (if possible) is great for strength training, while the postpartum period is a time for rest. If I can offer you anything, it is to not wait until after delivery to start lifting things. You will still have relaxin and decreased estrogen while you are breastfeeding, so learning to lift now is super important to build strong muscles. 

  1. Low Impact Cardio

Your cardiovascular system doubles its output until the 2nd trimester. This increase to allow blood flow is to benefit you and baby. It can be great (unless your doctor recommends against it) to add low impact exercise to your training routine. Walking, swimming, indoor cycling, using an elliptical trainer, are examples of low-impact exercises. There is a significant amount of research to support this, and I would personally argue that cardio helped ease my anxiety during pregnancy. In particular, the breathwork used for swimming became part of a meditation I employed in my second and third labors. I felt less bloated, slept better, and had a better mental outlook on the days I spent walking outside and in the pool. 

This can seem like a lot, but it doesn’t have to be. When I work with clients we work each week to outline when/ how they will be strength training, doing cardio, and taking rest days. I think if you’re feeling overwhelmed when it comes to exercise, (and honestly, how could you not be with all there is to read on the entire internet on pregnancy fitness), know that any form of exercise is generally considered good. Obviously cliff diving or boxing would be contraindicated, but a strength class, spin class, aqua-aerobics class, or prenatal Yoga have immense benefits for both you and baby. 

If you need any examples please check out my prenatal workouts link for exercises you can follow along at home or take to the gym.

Please reach out here if you have any additional questions or need support. 


(the sample size in this study is obviously concerning, but there is lots of additional evidence to support this) 

Lit review:


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