Pregnancy: Pilates for the 1st Trimester


by alisia

Right now I am in my third trimester of pregnancy. This is my second baby, so you would think that I would have this thing down by now. But no matter who you are, how many pregnancies you have had, or how good pregnancy looks on you, you feel huge. Period. Loving your body and welcoming every change in pregnancy is a challenge.

 I really have to remind myself that I am not just gaining weight, but that there is a new life growing within me. I am the support system for another human being. The miracle of that process is unfolding before my eyes every day, and every change in my body is a sign of the miracle that I am blessed to be a part of. 

But this pregnancy has been different. Since I have been through it all before I know that I won't be "huge" forever. I will be able to bend over again without holding my breath. With time I will be able to fit into my pants again (*I hope*). The difference with this pregnancy is that I have been an emotional wreck.

This March marks the beginning of the hardest year of my life. My father passed away unexpectedly last March. My heart was broken. Then I became pregnant in July. The first couple of months were rough, I almost miscarried the baby. I was put on "pelvic rest" until my 2nd trimester (no high impact exercises). I was teaching a lot as well as working on a very busy and stressful political campaign. Then after election day when I thought life was calming down, I broke my foot. Three months later I finally didn't have to walk with crutches or wear a boot. But as the birth of this baby draws near and the one year anniversary of my dad's death comes up, I find myself on an emotional roller coaster all over again.

Accepting change in life isn't always easy. Accepting the death of a loved one, accepting the birth of a beautiful new person into this world and all the changes it creates on your body. Accepting that accidents happen, bones break and take time to heal. Through all the joys and sorrows that changes bring, I have found one constant that helps me manage my emotional and physical changes. And that is exercise.

For me, the best thing I can do for myself is exercise. The natural endorphins that come after I workout are better than any medication I have taken. I have fallen in love with pilates because it has been one form of exercise that I have been able to consistently do. Being on "pelvic rest" and incredibly sick during my first trimester, I could still do pilates safely and I felt better. When I broke my foot and couldn't even walk, I could still do many pilates exercises and I felt better. Dealing with my dad's death, I have loved the mind/body aspect of pilates and when I am sad, I feel so much better after a pilates class.

I could go on an on about how pilates has helped me accept and deal with many changes in life, but right now I want to focus specifically on pregnancy.

Most women benefit greatly from exercising throughout their pregnancies. I have found that if you are consistent in doing pilates or other similar exercises you could prevent, alleviate, and possibly eliminate pain associated with delivery, achieve a higher level of balance, have more energy, reduce your stress level, be more calm, and prevent excess weight gain.

While we know that exercise is good for both mommy and baby if your doctor has permitted it, most struggle with understanding how to safely exercise for two. Many are conflicted with maintaining as much fitness as possible without compromising the baby. It will become apparent that you are not going to be able to exercise at the same threshold you did before being pregnant.

So what can you do? How should exercising change with each trimester?

I will not claim to know it all, but I can tell you what I have learned from my pilates certifications, from talking to my doctor, and most importantly from being pregnant myself. There are accommodations you must make, but that doesn't have to be an excuse for not exercising at all. (unless your doctor tells you otherwise.) Your exercise goals during pregnancy should not be as rigorous as training for a marathon, however you are training for your labor and recovery and you can still work to maintain a healthy body.

Obviously, it is important to exercise in any way that works for you. I prefer to do pilates because all movements are initiated by your core muscles, and this concentrates circulation within the abdomen, thus giving your child more blood and nutrients. Pilates also reminds you to breathe properly, affecting blood flow in your brain and increasing circulation for both you and the child you are carrying.

For the next three months I am going to post a series of safe pilates exercises and guidelines for each trimester of your pregnancy. Each will include one or more videos of examples of exercises you can safely do in your home. This month, we will start with the 1st trimester.

1st Trimester Workout and Guidelines

During your first trimester work to maintain your current level of fitness. The baby generally isn’t big enough for you to make any major adjustments to your regular workout routine. If you are not someone who exercised regularly prior to becoming pregnant, it is perfectly okay to begin when you're pregnant. Just don’t push yourself too hard. Always listen to your body. It is important for women to do cardio as long as you aren't breathing so hard that you wouldn't be able to carry on a conversation. You want the baby to get enough oxygen. Strength training is very important. Lifting weights, using resistant bands or performing body-weight exercises are all good forms of strength training. What many people don't recognize is that pilates is also an excellent form of strength training.

 Obviously when you are doing pilates or any other exercise, you have to use common sense: If you feel dizzy, nauseated, or short of breath, you should stop exercising immediately. If you are directed to assume a position that is too uncomfortable, move on to the next. If you are new to Pilates, I strongly suggest that you advance a trimester. In other words, if you are in your first trimester but have not done Pilates before, begin with the second trimester workout. If you are in your second trimester but have not done Pilates before, begin with the third trimester workout.

Here is a short video of some pilates exercises you can safely do during your first trimester of pregnancy:

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  1. I needed this a few months ago! :-). Hope all is well with your pregnancy. I'm excited to see the new little one!

  2. There is always the next pregnancy :) Miss you Megan!

  3. ALI! I love this you are so cute! I LOVE pilates! I am so sorry this pregnancy has been rough, my 2nd one was very similar, and I too was on bedrest, and pelvic rest due to a bleed. You are such a cute pregnant lady!

    I am excited to tries these with my next pregnancy! Thanks!

    Good luck on the rest of this pregnancy just take it one day at a time!


  4. Amy, You are so sweet. It is so crazy how common it is to bleed in your first trimester. My doctor said it just increases your chance of miscarriage but if you take it easy it shouldn't be a problem throughout. And it wasn't... can't wait to have this baby though :)


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