You’ve probably heard about all the exercises you can’t do while pregnant. You shouldn’t lie on your back, play contact sports or try anything, such as cycling, that can cause you to lose your balance.
But even with all the restrictions, you have plenty of options for each month that you are pregnant. Check out some ideas below (and of course, remember to check with your doctor that it’s ok for you to exercise).
Month 1: Walking
If you are new to exercise, walking is a great way to start. Try to walk for a mile, or about 20 minutes, three times a week. If you didn’t exercise pre-pregnancy, you may want to take it easy. Try to walk for at least five minutes a day in that case, and add a few minutes as your feel stronger. You can continue to walk throughout your pregnancy, as long as your doctor gives you the OK.
Month 2: Ab Exercises
After about the 16th week of pregnancy, you shouldn’t do anything that requires you to lie on your back, which takes crunches and other abdominal exercises off the table. You can still try them during the second month, though. If you are uncomfortable lying down on your back even early on, try leg lifts from a sitting position, which still work your abs. Sit on your butt, and extend your legs out in front of you. Place your forearms flat on the floor, and lean back. Lift your one leg into the air, as high as you can. Lower it carefully and repeat 10 times, and then switch legs.
Month 3: Kegels
Kegel exercises help keep your pelvic floor muscles strong, which eases labor and prevents incontinence. You can do Kegels whenever and where ever, and no one will know. Simply squeeze your pelvic muscles as if you were trying to stop peeing. Hold for five seconds, and then release. Repeat 10 times, several times a day throughout your pregnancy.
Month 4: Prenatal Yoga
Most yoga experts recommend waiting until your second trimester to start a prenatal yoga class, as you need to adjust to your pregnancy during the first three months. Take a class designed for pregnant women, or let your instructor know you are pregnant if it’s not a prenatal class. Avoid intense yoga classes, such as Bikram or heated yoga, during your pregnancy.
Month 5: Swimming
Swimming is a great exercise to try as you put on pregnancy weight and walking may become more like waddling. Swimming works your heart as well as your arm and leg muscles. Because you are floating in water, you feel weightless, which can be a welcome relief from the baby weight you’re carrying.
Month 6: Tailor Exercises
Tailor exercises such as the tailor sit and tailor press can reduce lower back pain and help strengthen your pelvic muscles. Sit on your butt, and cross your legs in front of you. Lean forward slightly, keeping your back straight. To do the tailor press, put your feet together as if you were doing the butterfly pose. Gently grasp your knees with your hands, and pull toward your body.
Month 7: Pelvic Tilt
Pelvic tilts also help reduce lower back pain and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Stand with your back against a wall. Put your hands on your hips, and space your feet about 10 inches apart. Breathe in as you tuck your butt under and push your hips away from the wall. Hold for a few seconds, exhale and release.
Month 8: T-Lifts
Get ready to carry your baby by working your arms during the last two months of pregnancy. Sit on a chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Hold a 2- or 3-lb. weight in each hand, and stretch your arms out to each side so that you look like a “T.” Push your elbows back so that your arms bend and your hands come toward your chest. Straighten your arms again. Repeat 10 times.
Month 9: Lateral Raises
Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Hold a 3- or 5-lb. weight in each hand. Place your hands at each hip. Slowly bend your elbows, bringing your hands up to your armpits. Lower your hands, and repeat 10 times.