Pregnancy Exercises and Healthy Weight Gain (Infographic)

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Get moving, baby! - Pregnancy Exercises and Healthy Weight Gain (Infographic)

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You recently got the news that you’re pregnant - congrats! So what comes next? Sit back, relax and eat for two, right?

While it will be tempting to do just that, especially with depleted energy, swollen ankles and more aches than normal, it is important keep moving, even if you weren’t exercising prior to your pregnancy.

pregnancy exercises by trimester and weight gain infographic

Benefits of Exercise During Pregnancy

Exercising during pregnancy does far more than keep you fit. Check out these six benefits of staying physically active during pregnancy:

1. Helps with sleep – Pregnancy exercises can help burn off excess energy just enough to calm you into a more restful sleep.
2. Improves your mood – The extreme ups and downs caused by a mix of hormones and unforgettable firsts can leave you feeling drained and anxious. By exercising, you are increasing serotonin levels, boosting your spirits.
3. Eases back pain and other aches - Stretching will help your body deal with the pains associated with pregnancy and strengthening muscles may help avoid these pains altogether.
4. Boosts energy – While it may seem backwards, exercise will actually help boost energy levels throughout your pregnancy by strengthening your cardiovascular system and tightening muscles. It can reduce the effort needed to complete everyday tasks while carrying an extra 15 plus pounds.
5. Prepares the body for childbirth – The better shape you are in, the stronger you will be during labor and delivery.
6. Reduces your risk for complications - Exercising during pregnancy can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes and lessen the symptoms of postpartum depression. In addition, women who do not stay active during pregnancy are 4.5 times more likely to have a cesarean section.

Best Pregnancy Exercises

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends all pregnant women get at least 30 minutes of exercise on most, or all, days of the week. But before you create a pregnancy workout plan, consult with your obstetrician or healthcare provider, especially if your pregnancy is considered high-risk.

The following activities are suggested exercises and physical activity that can be done, and some which should be avoided, during the three trimesters of pregnancy. Suggested weight gain during pregnancy is also outlined by trimester.

First Trimester Exercises

Average Weight Gain: 2-5 pounds

  • Cardiovascular exercises, including walking, swimming, dancing and low-impact aerobics are all encouraged. 
  • Flexibility and strength exercises such as yoga, Pilates and stretching are all safe and can prevent muscle strain.
  • Kegel exercises are suggested as they will help strengthen and tone pelvic floor muscles, which helps prepare these muscles for delivery. 
  • Avoid leaps, jumps and twirls. 
  • Avoid exercising in hot conditions. 
  • Avoid contact sports to prevent your baby bump from being bumped. 

Second Trimester Exercises

Average Weight Gain: 1-2 pound per week

  • Walking, swimming, dancing and low-impact aerobics are all safe during the second trimester. 
  • Flexibility and strength exercises such as yoga, Pilates and stretching are still safe during the second trimester.
  • Continue Kegel exercises to keep pelvic muscles strong. 
  • Avoid leaps, jumps and twirls. 
  • Avoid laying on your back for longer than a few minutes. 
  • Avoid stomach crunches and sit-ups. 
  • Avoid exercising in hot conditions.
  • Avoid contact sports to prevent your baby bump from being bumped. 

Third Trimester Exercises

Average Weight Gain: 1-2 pound per week
Moderate walking, swimming, dancing and low-impact aerobics are suggested during the third trimester.

  • Gentle rowing and stationary cycling are also gentle on your baby bump. 
  • Flexibility and strength exercises such as yoga, Pilates and stretching are still safe during the third trimester.
  • Kegel exercises should still be done during the third trimester. 
  • Avoid leaps, jumps and twirls. 
  • Avoid laying on your back for longer than a few minutes. 
  • Avoid stomach crunches and sit-ups. 
  • Avoid exercising in hot conditions.
  • Avoid contact sports to prevent your baby bump from being bumped. 

Remember, always listen to your body. The “talk test” is a great way to make sure you aren’t overdoing it. If you can talk aloud without losing your breath while exercising, you’re okay.

Weight Gain During Pregnancy

So where does the additional weight go during pregnancy? Here is the breakdown on average:

  • 7 1/2 pounds: How much the baby will weigh by the end of pregnancy.
  • 1 1/2 pounds: How much the placenta weighs.
  • 4 pounds: Attributed to increased fluid volume.
  • 2 pounds: The weight of the uterus.
  • 2 pounds: The weight of breast tissue.
  • 4 pounds: Increased blood volume.
  • 7 pounds: Maternal stores of fat, protein and other nutrients.
  • 2 pounds: Amniotic fluid.

     Total: 30 pounds