As autumn leaves fall, there’s an unmistakable buzz in the air. It’s the season of cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice lattes, and… fitness resolutions. Yep, Fall has an uncanny way of making us want to start new habits, whether reading a book a month or finding a new workout routine we’ll stick to.
But if you’re rocking a baby bump this season, your usual squat jumps and pilates might raise some eyebrows – and even your own internal alarms. “Can I even do a crunch while I’m pregnant?” you wonder, gazing at your ever-growing belly.
Welcome to the first trimester, where every motion comes with a side of second-guessing. But before you swap your sneakers for slippers and relegate your gym bag to the back of the closet, let’s dive into the “do’s” and “don’ts” of first-trimester fitness. With insights from Megan Johnson – an LA-based ACE Certified Trainer specializing in pre-and postnatal corrective exercises – we’re here to help you navigate the sweaty, sometimes confusing terrain of first-trimester workouts.
And don’t worry, we’ve got that crunch question covered, along with a few other queries you didn’t even know you had.
“As a trainer, I don’t advise crunches for anybody, especially women in their first trimester. We want to avoid “coning” of the abs. Crunches can put excess stress on the rectus abdominis, which can put you at risk for diastasis recti. There are so many ways to strengthen the core that goes beyond a crunch!”
Pro Tip: Train your transverse abdominals and pelvic floor. Breathing techniques and exercises that target your transverse abs and pelvic floor will be beneficial not only during pregnancy but also assist you in your labor and postpartum journey.
“Running can absolutely be safe during your first trimester if you are accustomed to running before pregnancy.”
Pro Tip: Listen to your body and be mindful that you may need more breaks than you were adjusted to before pregnancy!
Yoga can be safely done in your first trimester. Check for an instructor who specializes in Prenatal Yoga. They will know how to modify the practice based on your needs.
Pro Tip: Due to your elevated core temperature in your first trimester, hot yoga is NOT RECOMMENDED.
Pilates is a fantastic way to improve core strength, posture, and mobility during pregnancy.
Pro Tip: During your first trimester, your body produces Relaxin — a hormone responsible for relaxing the joints and making the joints less stable. You want to make sure you’re not stretching or doing any movements up to your maximal point of flexibility during this time to reduce your risk for injury.
HITT workouts can be safe for momma during the first trimester.
Pro Tip: Avoid any quick lateral movements and balancing exercises that can put you at risk of falling. Due to the increase in blood volume during your first trimester, you can find that standing still while doing a single exercise can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. That’s why incorporating dynamic movements can be beneficial for momma. Listen to your body and take breaks if needed! Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) to help determine what is best for your body during this time.
No matter which type of exercise you choose to do during pregnancy, please note to stay HYDRATED! Drinking two glasses of water for every hour of exercise is recommended. Dehydration is the leading cause of preterm labor, so remember to keep that water bottle handy, Momma!