The Perfect Prenatal Workout for Every Trimester

There’s no doubt about it: exercising during pregnancy is good for both you and your baby. Every expert and doctor around will tell you that when you participate in prenatal exercise, you not only have a healthier pregnancy, but you also feel better, look better, and even give birth better!

That’s right, according to a study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, women who exercise when pregnant have a higher incidence of vaginal delivery and a significantly lower incidence of cesarean delivery. Of course, it’s important to consider whether or not you have any pregnancy risks or concerns before you jump into a workout program. But if you’re able to exercise, check out some of the benefits of prenatal exercise provided by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Reduced risk of gestational diabetes
  • Reduced backaches, constipation, bloating, and swelling
  • Improved energy and mood
  • Better sleep quality
  • Prevents excess weight gain
  • Promotes muscle tone, strength, and endurance

So in as little as just 30 minutes a day, three to four times a week, you could change your entire pregnancy experience for the better and be more energized and fit once the baby is born. Of course that might just beg the question, “What exercise CAN I do when I’m pregnant?” So here are some great picks to guide you through each trimester.

As always, make sure you clear everything with your doctor before you get started with a routine.


The beginning of your pregnancy is filled with excitement and anticipation, but it can also bring on fatigue and nausea. There are tons of changes happening inside your body, including some crazy hormonal shifts. On the other hand, you haven’t grown or expanded very much so the discomfort of a growing belly isn’t yet a problem. Here are a couple suggestions to keep you moving during the first three months.


While your body is still fairly close to its normal size, running is more manageable than it will be later. This will be a particularly good choice if you were running before you got pregnant. Of course if you are among the more than 50% of women who experience morning sickness, you might wonder if running, walking, or any exercise is even possible. The best suggestion here is to try. Find a time when you actually feel okay and try to get moving. The beauty of going on a run or walk is that both the movement and the fresh air might just do the trick to make you feel a little better. In addition to nausea, you might notice that you feel more out-of-breath than you used to. This is due to the fact that your body is hard at work using your blood supply to create a human life! Just slow down a bit and turn your run into a jog or fast walk when needed.

Related: Walk & Tone Program


Pilates is a method of core strengthening exercises that will help with one very common problem in pregnancy: low back pain. Though you may not feel it yet, as your belly starts to grow and become heavy, it takes a toll on your lower back muscles. By taking time in the first trimester to build core strength and work on your stability, you’re helping to establish a stable body for the rest of your pregnancy. Some of the moves practiced in Pilates are not recommended for the second and third trimester due to the risk of Diastatis Recti. Be careful not to strain or “push” your abdominals outward. Pilates is all about drawing in. Find a good instructor to guide you through this and make sure to let her know you are pregnant.

Related: Core Blast Pilates


This is the magical time where you’ve likely shaken the nausea and fatigue and found a whole new surge of energy. In addition, a baby bump has appeared but it’s not so big that it prohibits your ability to move freely. Rule of thumb: if you did it before you were pregnant, you can probably continue to do it now. Just keep you heart rate at a moderate level and don’t go too crazy. If you can talk while you are moving, your heart rate is in the right place. Here are some suggestions for exercising during the second trimester.


Perhaps the most common thing you’ll hear from someone exiting a yoga class is how amazing they feel. The perfect combination of stretching, strengthening, and sweating helps to keep you moving and feel energized but calm at the same time. A few things to keep in mind if yoga is your movement of choice while pregnant:

  • Be gentle with any twists
  • Don’t lay flat on your back
  • Avoid any moves that make you strain your abdominals
  • Steer clear of hot yoga
  • Stay away from backbends and inversions (headstand, plough, etc.)

If you’re looking for a nice yoga routine to get you going, give our Baby Bump Prenatal Yoga Flow a try!


Barre exercise is a wonderful way to tighten and tone muscles while gently raising your heart rate and building your self-confidence. This type of exercise is great for anyone, but it’s particularly nice in the second trimester when you’re learning how to manage your changing physical shape. If you’ve never tried Barre before, it’s a blend of ballet, strength training moves, and Pilates that tones you from head to toe. Find a local Barre class at a fitness center, a boutique Barre studio, or stay at home and save some money by checking out our Baby Bump Prenatal Barre program!


Things are getting real! Most of the movement choices you make at this stage are going to be determined by how you feel when you do them. For example, some women can continue running through their entire pregnancy while others wouldn’t dream of it. If you carry your baby more forward and low you will have more difficulty than someone who carries her baby more inside and high. Every pregnancy is different, so trust your own judgment. Here are a few ideas that most women should be able to do in the third trimester.


Strength training? Yes! While your belly might be the biggest it’s ever been, you can and should lift weights. The key is to steer toward lighter weights or stick to using your own body weight. Keeping your muscles toned will not only support your metabolism and help you look better once the baby is born, but also give you the strength you’ll need to haul around an infant, a car seat, a diaper bag, some groceries… you get the picture!

Want some guidance as you move? Grab some light dumbbells and try our Baby Bump Prenatal Boot Camp!


The hardest part of third trimester movement is contending with your new body and its awkward shape. In addition, the extra weight can take a toll on your joints since they are used to your normal body size. Working out in the water is one way to help! The buoyancy of the water supports 50 percent of your body weight, which alleviates stress on your joints. Nearly any fitness center, local gym, or community center will offer classes in the water.

What exercises do you like to do while pregnant? Let us know in the comments!

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One Response to “The Perfect Prenatal Workout for Every Trimester”

  1. khugheshambley

    These are great resources for pregnancy - these should be more available and easier to find on your webiste. Have you considered developing some postpartum workouts or a program? Especially for c-section Mamas, we are pretty limited for the first 4-6 weeks, and then its tough to get back into exercise after major abdonimal surgery. Maybe call it a "Bounce Back" Program, Lindsey Bomgren mentions something like this in her Baby Bump Barre workout - so sounds like the idea is already out there!