Pre & Postnatal

Can I Exercise at the End of Pregnancy?

Can I continue exercising at the end of pregnancy? 
This is a question I receive quite often. Let’s say you’re _____ weeks pregnant. Is it safe to continue exercising? Or is there a point where you need to stop, or stick to walking only?

Considerations for Movement

I was listening to a recent episode the To Birth and Beyond podcast, and it really got me thinking. I’m now 31 weeks pregnant (feeling like 37!), and although I still have a few months to go, when should I stop? Should I have a timeline for myself, and one that I pass on to clients? 

In my first pregnancy I worked out until I gave birth – literally (I cancelled a class the day I went into labor). I’m not saying this is right or wrong, but at that time movement felt good in my body. I actually wanted to keep moving and I felt great. But, if this isn’t you – that is OK! There may come a point where you don’t feel so great, and you no longer want to exercise. Tune in to that feeling. You are the best judge of that. There is no magical date when exercise needs to stop, except for magical reasons of course. 

                First Pregnancy with Benji
Jessie Mundell and Anita Lambert described three things to consider towards the end of your pregnancy.
1. Movement may actually help you feel more physically comfortable. Moving in any capacity may actually help with physical discomfort then not moving at all. Sometimes a quick walk or some mobility work helps me with general tightness, and gives my mind a little break too. If you are experiencing discomfort, let’s find a way to move that does feel good in your body and/or helps to alleviate any pain. 
2. Movement can help support your mental and emotional health. Especially right now during social isolation and COVID, movement is one piece to my sanity. Even taking a short walk outside for some fresh air is reassuring and peaceful.
3. We CAN modify. Movement can be something to help you feel comfortable physically. Late in pregnancy, we can change things up to make them more comfortable, and account for lower energy. Modification is necessary as you progress in your pregnancy. Personally, I modify almost everything. This actually makes me feel stronger and more supported because I am doing what’s best and comfortable in my body right now. 
  • Decrease the length of the training session: I often program 1-2 sets for pregnant mamas late in pregnancy. This may be all we have energy/time for. That is OK!
  • Vary body positioning: Seated, side lying, incline bench, etc. Include more exercises that take our body into “rest” positions.
  • Scale back on walking: I loved this tip. Walking late in pregnancy is actually really hard on the body, and our body positioning can also make it even tougher. We’ve often heard to WALK WALK WALK, but that may or may not feel good. I’ve found that incline walking is much more comfortable. So, I opt for hills, walking in a slightly forward leaning position.
Towards the end of pregnancy, strength training may look a bit different, but it’s also prepping your body for labor and mama life. I also recommend an emphasis on pelvic floor relaxation and mobility work too, particularly in the third trimester. 

Over all, there is no magic week when workouts need to stop. It’s really an individual decision. Do you have time? Energy? Desire?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop a comment below. And if you have any questions about training during pregnancy, I’d love to chat!
Disclaimer: Please consult your doctor before starting or continuing an exercise program during pregnancy. There are contraindications where it is strongly recommended to stop intense exercise and/or strength training 🙂 

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