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Exercise in the Second Trimester

Most women are told to continue doing what they were doing prior to pregnancy or to just listen to their body. But what does that really mean as you start to notice more physical changes in the second trimester?

In this blog, I will help you navigate through the overwhelm and give guidance on what you should take into consideration and how you can adjust movement when needed.

For many women, with the second trimester comes more energy, less nausea, and overall feeling a bit better than the first trimester. It also comes with a growing baby bump, shifts in balance, more pressure in the pelvis, and changes in posture to accommodate your evolving body.

If you are still feeling sick and have really low energy, check out my blog on exercise in the first trimester HERE-you may feel better sticking with that for a while longer (and throughout your pregnancy).

I am nearing the end of my third pregnancy and this one has been different in many ways to my previous two pregnancies. So I just want to remind you that every woman and every pregnancy is different; what works for one woman may not be the best option for the next. As I share this information, know that these are not hard and fast rules to live by.

When I am working with pregnant (and postpartum) clients, I am taking their individual experiences into consideration each session to help them determine the best course of action for their goals.

Okay, now let’s dive into these considerations.

How do you know if you should make a change with your movement?

If you experience any of the following symptoms (even if just a little bit), it may be time to make an adjustment, switch to another exercise, or consult with your OB, pelvic floor physical therapist or coach:

  • Coning or doming along the midline of the abdomen

  • Pulling sensations in the abdomen

  • ANY amount of unintentional leaking (urine or feces)

  • Pelvic pain or pressure

  • Heaviness or a bulge feeling in the vagina

  • Pain during or after exercise (back, hips, pelvic, belly)

  • Fatigue, exhaustion, or excessive soreness-this is likely a sign you need to back off a bit

  • Spotting or bleeding-some women experience this in pregnancy, but it’s best to call your doctor right away if you notice any amount of blood

These are some ways you can learn to listen to your body.

What are common exercises that need to be adjusted in the second trimester?

This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but these are common ones that I get asked about and often help my clients find better ways to adjust these.

  • Running-check out THIS BLOG for more in-depth information on running in pregnancy

  • Jumping exercises (jump rope, box jumps, broad jumps, etc.)-check out THIS BLOG

  • Pull-ups-check out THIS BLOG

  • Other gymnastics exercises (handstand push-ups/walking, rope climbs, ring dips, ring and bar work like toes-to-bar, muscle ups, L-sits and hangs, etc)

  • Burpees-check out THIS BLOG

  • Olympic lifting-check out THIS BLOG

  • Maximal (and near-max) weightlifting-check out THIS BLOG

  • Traditional core work (sit-ups, V-ups, toes-to-bar or hanging leg/knee raises, planks, etc)-check out THIS BLOG

  • Wide-stance exercises (lunges, lateral lunges, wide squats, etc.) if they cause pelvic pain-check out THIS BLOG

  • Impact sports

I really don’t like black and white lists of exercises to do or to avoid in pregnancy, postpartum, or really anytime because it feeds into fear mongering and they don’t actually work for all women, so know that this is not one of those lists.

These are just common movements that may elicit symptoms (like in the list above) for some women because of the increase in intra-abdominal pressure and technicality of the exercises.

If you find that you notice any symptoms in these exercises or any other movements, you can try changing HOW you are performing the exercise or try a different breathing strategy to see if that helps. If not, it may be time to change up your movement a bit more.

Learning what your individual tendencies are and how to utilize different breathing strategies with movement and throughout your day can be very helpful in finding how to make exercise feel good for you while also supporting core and pelvic floor health.

Remember that this won’t be forever, just for now and it can really help set you up long term! Adjusting your mindset to allow and accept the changes that will occur in your body and in your training will make it a bit easier to let go of expectations you may have had around what you wanted your pregnancy to look like.

As far as guidance around whether or not specific exercises are okay or how to adjust them for YOU, it will really be very individual and that is one way I help my clients navigate exercise during this chapter.

Making informed decisions about what is most appropriate for you and your body can help you maintain activity, without pain or symptoms, and help with recovery postpartum.

Want more info on how you can navigate symptoms, exercise, and your journey? Fill out this form to schedule a FREE call with me to discuss how you can get better guidance with exercise and managing symptoms in pregnancy!

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