First trimester workout5 min readReading Time: 4 minutes
The first trimester: Week 1 – 12
What happens during the first trimester of pregnancy?
To be able know what exercises to implement in your first trimester workout, it might be good to know what happens in your body during this magical time. Below you can read quick recap of the amazing changes you and your baby go through!
Already during the first weeks of pregnancy the resting heart rate begins to rise (an increase that results in 15-20 extra beats per minute in the third trimester is perfectly normal). Blood volume increases by 40-50% until the middle of the third trimester and blood pressure rises. This, along with many other hormonal factors, will probably leave you with a physical fatigue much earlier in your workout than you are used to. And you’ll get a much heavier breathing. The increased amount of blood also causes an increase in blood flow to the skin, which is why many pregnant women feel very warm and sweat easily.
During the first trimester, the embryo, which was initially a single cell, develops into a fetus.
During this time, a lot is happening in your body. You are going through major hormone changes which can lead to you being more sensitive than usual. By week 5, the period has been absent for several days and you should be able to take a pregnancy test at this stage, for some it is still a little premature.
If you suspect you are pregnant despite a negative pregnancy test, you can wait about a week and take the test again. At this time (week 6) you can begin to feel that you are pregnant: your breasts may tighten, you may feel unwell, feel sick, be abnormally tired and have mood swings.
During week 6-12 the fetus develops a lot, it gets its spine, arms and legs. By week 10, virtually all of the body’s internal organs are present. After week 12, the greatest risk of miscarriage is over.
Many health benefits are associated with exercise during pregnancy, including reduced risk of c-section and a shorter delivery time. It has also been noticed that women who exercise give birth to children with slightly lower body fat and birth weight which is a great facilitator during childbirth since it reduces the risk of complications.
Strong pelvic floor muscles also reduce the risk of rupture in connection with childbirth and aids in a faster postpartum recovery.
How should I adapt my first trimester workout?
A combination of strength and cardio exercise is recommended and the general guideline is that you should aim to get two strength sessions and three cardio sessions per week.
During the first trimester you can pretty much keep doing the exercises you are used to.
However, little research is done on the effects of vigorous intensity exercise in the first trimester, hence the recommendation is that you keep the intensity at a moderate level.
What is moderate intensity exercise?
The type of exercise could be anything, but the level of intensity should be at a level where it’s possible to keep up a talk without great struggle (ie equivalent to brisk walking).
What type of training is allowed?
No matter what kind of exercise you like, you can implement it in your first trimester workout routine (exception: stay away from full contact sports that risk injuries or hits to your belly).
It’s always good to stick to exercises that are familiar to you because then you’ll have the benefit of knowing if something feels off. The key rule for pregnancy exercise is listening to your body, because everyone is affected differently by pregnancy.
However, there is little you can do to harm your baby, and that is the biggest concern for most expecting mothers. The limitations that you might experience are connected to your body and the fact that it’s now functioning in a new way. For example, you might experience that you can’t go on long and fast power walks anymore because it hurts in your lower back or hip area. This pain is not an indication that there’s an risk for your baby’s health, but an indication that you need to slow down so you don’t hurt yourself.
The goal for pregnancy exercise should be to maintain strength and stamina to the best of your ability and not to set new personal bests. That way you get the benefits from staying active without an increased risk of injuring yourself (there is always an increased risk of injuring yourself when trying to set new personal bests no matter pregnant or not).
What to avoid in your first trimester workout
- Full contact sports – all sports where there are risks of blows to the body should be avoided.
- Maximum heart rate – pregnant women are recommended to stay below 70% of their maximum heart rate. If you are not sure how much it is then work out at a pace that feels good to you without pushing it to the max.
- Hot Exercises – Avoid workouts performed in heat rooms, Hot MOJO, Hot FLX and HotVinyasa Flow are some examples. The same goes for sauna and workouts in warm, poorly ventilated gyms. A good idea is to always carry water with you during the workout.
Always consult with your doctor or midwife to get an all clear before starting a new workout routine.
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