Can I Workout When I’m Pregnant?

Ideas on How to Modify Exercise When Pregnant. Jess & Miriam’s Experiences.

The following interview was done with 2 professionals in the Health & Wellness industry that experienced a lot of criticism for working out while pregnant. This interview covers their experience and perspectives and is not us telling you what you should or should not do. We do suggest that you always consult with your healthcare professional before exercising, pregnant or not.

So here’s the question, is it safe for pregnant women to work out? And if so, at what level? I mean should exercises be modified or stopped completely? Cat Kom, founder of Studio SWEAT, sat down with Trainers Jess N., who is currently pregnant, and Miriam, who was pregnant recently, to hear their perspectives. 

And, Cat’s personal opinion in short… “For the general population, heck yes. As long as you listen to your body and work with your health care professional that is up to date on the latest research.”

The Interview…

What did your healthcare professional say about exercise?

Jess: I’m on my second one in this pregnancy because my first advised me not to workout at all. My new doctor aligns with the philosophy that activity level should be based on pre-pregnancy fitness level and current health.

Miriam: Mine initially suggested taking it down to slow walks on the beach, at low intensity.

Did your healthcare professional say you could stay at your pre-pregnancy levels?

Jess: For me, it was based on how I was feeling. I already had been working out at a high intensity, so that wasn’t a new level with pregnancy. My provider emphasizes staying really in tune with my body. If I feel over-exerted, too warm, or out of breath, I back off.

Miriam: I looked at my pre-pregnancy activity which was safe and healthy for me and my baby.

Did/do people ask you questions like, “Should you be working out in your condition?”

Miriam: Constantly. This was a very triggering time for me.

Jess: Very much so and I find it super offensive. I hear the word “condition” as a negative like a heart condition, or eczema condition. Not something like a baby which should be wonderful and fun. My body is a temple right now, with tons of vitamins, and great nutrition. This isn’t a condition, it’s a glorious state of being. Was I feeling judged? Yep. But I know I’m healthy and stick up for myself.

Miriam: I was surprised by some very aggressive responses like, “You could harm your baby or even miscarry.” This made me feel angry and alienated.

Were the people asking healthcare professionals?

Miriam: No.

Jess: Never.

Did you modify your fitness at all?

Miriam: My hips started getting loose, so I still did yoga, but didn’t get all the way to the end range. Heavier weights didn’t feel good, so I used lighter weights.

Spinning felt amazing. Movements on my back? If you lie on your back, it can put pressure on your vena cava which impacts blood flow and breathing. I just listened to my body and modified as needed.

Jess: I’ve modified a bit. If I was already fatigued, I’d dial back my threshold. I did drop my heavy weights in the beginning because I really wasn’t feeling well. I would normally say heavy was 20-25 pounds, but had dropped in some cases down to 8 pounds. But I’ve been able to work my way back up.

My cardio stayed the same all throughout my pregnancy. I had gravity issues, so couldn’t jump as high, but I still jumped. My base has changed with jumping, and I squat with a wider stance. If I’m doing something like a burpee, I use an elevated box or step to give more space.

I still do exercises on my back. Typically in a sculpt class, you’re only on your back for a very short time, like 20-30 seconds. So for now, I’m ok on the ground.

How did/does working out help you while pregnant?

Miriam: I had edema (swelling) in one leg and nausea. The nausea would go away for 3-5 hours after a workout.

Exercise helped control swelling, my blood pressure stayed stable, I had no blood sugar issues, and I felt strong.

Jess: Exercise is literally the only thing that’s gotten me through the last 5 months. It’s the only time I’m 100% happy, and I’m not feeling sick and green.

Was recovery faster because you worked out during pregnancy?

Miriam: Over a million percent. I recovered ridiculously fast.

Do you expect a fast recovery?

Jess: For my first pregnancy, I was in pretty bad health. I drank a lot (not during pregnancy, but before), had a bad diet, and didn’t exercise. Now I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, so I’m curious to see how that will turn out.

Jess and Miriam, thank you for sharing your journey with us. 

And to find workouts you can do at your own fitness level while pregnant, check out our library with a Free Trial over on Studio SWEAT onDemand! Download the app, or if you happen to live in southern California, visit us in our San Diego studio.

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Here's what people said about “Can I Workout When I’m Pregnant?”

2 Comments
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I’m surprised and saddened that this is still the issue it was when I was pregnant 20+ years ago. And I’m discouraged by the evidence that people still feel free to judge and to tell women how they “should” take care of their bodies. Kudos to both of these lovely ladies for being sensible and strong.

I loved this video….the negativity toward pregnant women who workout is so discouraging. I experienced a lot of criticism for running and working out during both of my pregnancies, but kept moving. Exercise helped me maintain my health during and after pregnancy. Thank you for creating this message for such an important topic for women.