In the second trimester of pregnancy, your baby is getting bigger and so is the risk of injury during exercise. If you have a normal pregnancy, and have consulted with your doctor that it’s okay to workout 3-5 times a week, you can use a combination of strength training and cardio for up to 30 minutes each day, according to The American College of OBGYN’s 2020 recommendations (8).
Rather than shy away from exercise during this crucial time, it’s best to know which workouts are the safest and most beneficial. It’s also important to have some safe exercise tips to protect yourself and your baby.
Changes In Your Body In The Second Trimester
In the second trimester of pregnancy, your body is changing in many ways to accommodate your growing baby. These changes affect which exercises you can do and for how long. When creating a pregnancy workout plan second trimester, it’s important to consider the following changes:
You Need More Water
Your baby is growing and putting more pressure on your bladder. You’ll make many trips to the bathroom because of this, and that means you have to constantly replenish lost fluids (11). It’s best to drink plenty of water before, during, and after you work out.
Water retention makes pregnant women feel bloated and their joints may feel slightly swollen and stiff. This can be relieved through frequent stretching and staying hydrated.
You Get Hot Quicker
You will experience increased body temperature throughout your pregnancy, and this is most pronounced in the second trimester. When creating a workout plan for yourself during pregnancy, it’s best to consider how long you’ll be exercising and what clothing you’ll wear while doing the activity.
Your Balance Is Off
Pregnancy hormones loosen your ligaments, making it harder to maintain your balance (10). If you work out regularly, you should already have good balance. If not, it’s recommended that you avoid activities that could cause a fall like running and jumping rope.
You Get Tired Faster
Not only do you have an increased body temperature, but your energy levels are decreasing as well. It’s recommended to work out at a moderate intensity so that you can still breath easily and hold a conversation (3). This way you’ll have enough energy left to complete your workout routine and spend time with your baby after the session is over.
Benefits Of Exercising While Pregnant
Whether you were active or inactive before your pregnancy, pregnancy workouts are good for you and your baby. Below are some benefits of exercise during pregnancy:
You’ll Have Less Weight Gain
Exercise helps you control your weight gain during pregnancy. It also lessens the severity of other physiological problems like swelling and cramping. You can manage your weight gain more effectively by increasing the intensity of your workouts gradually over time, limiting yourself to 30 minutes a day (8).
You’ll Reduce Low Back Pain
Exercising during pregnancy strengthens your back and pelvis, reducing the risk of lower back pain. It’s best to work on strengthening your abs, glutes, hips, and smaller core muscles with ab exercises like crunches (3).
Your Mood Will Improve
As if you needed another reason to exercise! Research suggests that regular workouts can help relieve symptoms of depression during pregnancy. This is most likely because regular exercise helps raise dopamine levels in your brain which are linked to mood (3). You’ll also have more energy for socializing with loved ones after working out compared to when you’re inactive.
Lower Risk Of Complications During Delivery
Research suggests that women who exercise while pregnant have a lower risk of having a premature birth, low birth weight babies, or gestational diabetes (3). It’s best to talk to your doctor about what exercises are safe for you to do during pregnancy so you can reap these benefits.
Better Postpartum Recovery
Exercise helps improve blood circulation in your body which speeds up the healing process after giving birth (3). You’ll have more energy after exercising during pregnancy and can focus on caring for yourself and your new addition. Preparing early will help you recover faster.
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Pregnancy Workouts To Try In The Second Trimester
Now that you know what exercises are safe, create a pregnancy workout plan for the second trimester to help control weight gain and boost energy levels at the same time. Below are some workouts to try in your second trimester:
Walking is one of the best ways to stay active during pregnancy because it’s low impact and can be done anywhere. It also doesn’t require any equipment other than a supportive pair of shoes. You can walk alone or with a friend. Start by walking for five minutes every day, slowly building up to half an hour throughout your second trimester.
Yoga is great exercise during pregnancy because it’s low impact and has relaxing components. It also helps improve flexibility which is essential in maintaining balance during pregnancy (9). Try doing the cat/cow pose for 5 minutes each night before bed. For more advanced modifications, try restorative yoga poses like pita paschimottanasana (bridge) and supta baddha konasana (reclined bound angle).
Swimming And Water Aerobics
Water workouts are easy on your joints while still providing adequate exercise for new moms after giving birth. Because water resistance can be adjusted to your needs, these exercises are suitable for women of all fitness levels.
Stationary bicycling offers additional support and balance while being low impact on your joints. You can adjust the intensity by changing the tension of the pedals or wearing a weighted vest. Start off with 5 minutes each day to see how it feels, gradually increasing time as you become more comfortable.
Exercising during pregnancy is best done in moderation so avoid high-intensity workouts like kickboxing or running because they’re hard on your body and can increase your heart rate too much.
That’s why strength training in the second trimester is ideal because it boosts energy levels without exposing you too much to contact and potential injury (6). Start with two sets of 10 reps each and gradually increase as you feel more comfortable. Make sure to use moderate weights and focus on your abs, glutes, hips, and oblique muscles.
Some ideal exercises to modify to increase your muscle strength include:
- Curl and press for your biceps and shoulders
- Bent over fly for sculpting your shoulders and back
- Chair pose for strengthening your legs
- Planks for strengthening your core
- Superman pose for strengthening your back
- Single arm row for toning your back and arms
- Triceps push-ups for strengthening your triceps and chest
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Safety Tips For Exercises While Pregnant
Here are a few tips to ensure your safety and that of your baby while you exercise in the second trimester:
Drink eight to ten glasses of water each day to stay hydrated (7). If you notice yourself getting lightheaded during exercise, stop what you’re doing and drink some H2O before continuing.
Wearing supportive clothing , which is made of breathable fabrics but covers your entire body, can keep you from overheating during pregnancy workouts . It’s also recommended that pregnant women not exercise in hot weather because it can raise their core temperature too much for the baby (5).
Avoid Lying Flat On Your Back
For exercising in the second trimester, avoid lying flat on your back because it puts excess pressure on major blood vessels that are responsible for carrying blood to your uterus and growing the fetus. This could cause decreased blood flow to the baby which can lead to problems during delivery (1).
Use Moderate Intensity
It’s important that you exercise at a moderate intensity, not too hard or too easy, in your second trimester because it provides adequate cardiovascular exercise for new moms while strengthening their muscles. Make sure to listen to your body and stop if anything feels wrong or uncomfortable.
Exercising during your second trimester is a great way to keep fit and maintain good health for you and your baby. Continue walking, doing modified yoga, swimming or water aerobics, and stationary bicycling as well as adding strength training to your routine. Just make sure to avoid overheating by wearing supportive clothing and drinking plenty of water before and after workouts.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Back to basics: avoiding the supine position in pregnancy (2017, nih.gov)
- Changes to the Mother’s Body During Pregnancy (n.d., lumenlearning.com)
- Exercise in Pregnancy (2015, nih.gov)
- Guidelines for Physical Activity during Pregnancy: Comparisons From Around the World (2015, nih.gov)
- Hot weather and high body temperature during pregnancy (2018, nct.org.uk)
- Muscle strengthening exercises during pregnancy are associated with increased energy and reduced fatigue (2017, nih.gov)
- Nutrition Column An Update on Water Needs during Pregnancy and Beyond (2002, nih.gov)
- Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period (2020, acog.org)
- Systematic Review of Yoga for Pregnant Women: Current Status and Future Directions (2012, nih.gov)
- The effect of relaxin on the musculoskeletal system (2013, nih.gov)
- The Second Trimester (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)