Podcast Episode #38

What are the Best Exercises for Pregnancy?

What are the Best Exercises for Pregnancy: Kath Baquie from FitNest Mama

One of the most common questions I get asked as a women’s physio is what type of exercise women should be doing while pregnant. Today I dive into this topic to discuss some of the things to be aware of when exercising, my go-to recommendations and the types of exercises you should avoid while pregnant. 

I talk about the importance of getting a medical clearance and individualised assessment from a physio, especially if you’re keen to continue higher impact exercise. I discuss pelvic floor, core, strengthening and aerobic exercises and why I’m a fan of low impact and moderate exercise for pregnancy.

Make sure you check out the free exercises and programs I have available on my website. There’s plenty available to keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy.

Episode Links

Postnatal Return to Running program

Preparing for birth Pelvic health checklist

Free 7 Day Trial Pregnancy Workouts

Free 7 Day Trial Postnatal Workouts

FitNest Mama Website

Instagram @fitnestmama

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What are the Best Exercises for Pregnancy?



If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. a physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.


Well, hi there. Welcome to Episode 38 of the FitNest Mama Podcast. One of the most common questions I get asked as a women’s physio is what exercises should I be doing now that I’m pregnant. So let’s dive into it.

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In this episode, I’ll be chatting about things to be aware of when exercising my go to exercises that I think all women should be doing, as well as things to avoid. So before we do jump into this episode, I just want to let you know about the 7-Day Free Trial that is available for FitNest Mama, if you would like to be able to exercise safely during pregnancy. In this 7-Day Trial, you’ll be able to access weekly live streamed pilates classes, as well as a combination of on demand. So 24/7 pilates classes as well.

You can binge listen to expert guest speakers, where we discuss topics including hypnobirthing induction, mindset, and more. And there’s also a heap of Q&A sessions with myself on all sorts of topics such as preparing for birth, abdominal muscle separation, pregnancy related pelvic pain, caesarean scar massage, and more. So all you need to do is head to https://fitnestmama.com/free and the link is in the show notes as well.

Alright, let’s get into this episode for today. So I’ve got nine points written out in front of me, bear with me, because I do think if you’re pregnant, it’s important to know, everything that I’m going to talk about today. And I’ll try to make it as brief and as quick as possible.

So step number one, we always need to get medical clearance when starting any new exercise program during pregnancy. So quick disclaimer, this information that I am giving you is general information only. And it is really important to have a chat to your doctor so that they can individualize your treatment and your advice based on your individual assessment and diagnosis.

Okay, so once you’ve had your medical clearance to start exercising during pregnancy, we want to make sure that on average, so it’s recommended by the Royal Australian New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists that pregnant women should aim to be physically active on most or preferably all days of the week. So aiming for approximately 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a day. However, if you were previously inactive, you should definitely build up to this slowly. And perhaps to start out at 15 minutes and build up slowly to 30 minutes, because it’s actually it is surprisingly, quite a lot of exercise. Or you might think it is for some people and then for other people, it might be less than what they usually do.

So what is moderate exercise? Rather than using the heart rate to determine the intensity of workout we use the talk test, during moderate exercise, you should be able to hold a conversation. So we don’t want to be gasping for air and short of breath. And that is a great indication of whether or not you’re completing moderate exercise and you’re not overdoing it. And we also don’t want to be exercising when it’s really hot or getting our temperature too hot when exercising too.

Okay, that’s all the sort of technical stuff out of the way except just finally, as a general rule of thumb, I think most women are aware of this but low impact exercise is generally recommended for pregnant women. There’s hormonal changes, there’s mechanical changes, so the way we move is different. We’ve got postural changes that are happening during pregnancy, so abdominal muscles are stretched, our pelvic floor muscles might be under stretch. There’s all sorts of reasons why our pregnant body is thought to be more susceptible to injury. So low impact exercise is great.

However, I will put a bit quick caveat to this I do fully understand that there are quite a few women who want to keep running throughout pregnancy or doing their normal exercise. So, in these situations, if you do want to keep up with your higher impact exercise, with education support, I do always help to support women and their choices to the best of my ability. So my recommendation is if you’re pregnant and you’re wanting to do higher impact exercise, definitely go and see your doctor and your women’s health physio. So that they can individually assess you, your pelvic floor, and then they can tailor their advice to you and your situation. Because what might be advice for one person might be totally different to another depending on so many different things. So one woman might be a mirror, she might be a past marathon runner, she might have been running seven days a week, hundreds of kilometers a week. So when she gets pregnant, for her to run a few days a week, a shorter period of time, a shorter intensity for her, that would be a very different situation to someone who had done no formal exercise at all. And they are wanting to take up running during pregnancy. So do you not I mean, that’s why if you do want to do higher impact exercise, do kind of get that individualized assessment and treatment. Okay, I feel that those first four points, they’re all the technical side of things.

So let’s get into more the fun, I reckon it’s more fun side of things. Okay. Every pregnant woman out there, it’s a great time, if you haven’t been doing pelvic floor exercises, but bore, this is a time we want to become aware of what your pelvic floor is, we want to become aware of how to lift your pelvic floor, but also how to relax your pelvic floor. So yes, we do want to get into some strengthening work during pregnancy. But it’s also important to be aware of how to relax and release your pelvic floor muscles too, because we know for childbirth, that is super important. And pelvic floor exercises is also another one where, yes, I could tell you to do a 10 second string fold 10 times and do some quick lifts and a long hold but if you are able to get individualized pelvic floor assessment, so that they can assess and give you an individualized program, that is the best. But I do also know, for some women, you live far away from pelvic floor physios, you might live rurally, or regionally, he might, there might be financial issues, you might not want to have a pelvic floor assessment.

There’s all sorts of reasons why women don’t go and have a pelvic floor assessment. And I totally get that. So that’s one reason I do have a whole pelvic floor module inside FitNest Mama where I talk you through how to do a pelvic floor lift, things to be aware of, and all the different components of pelvic floor exercises too.

Okay, so once you’ve got your pelvic floor sorted, and you’re regularly doing your exercises, and you’re relaxing your pelvic floor, we do also want to make sure we’re doing appropriate core exercises. So your core pelvic floor is definitely a part of your core. But your core also includes your dominant muscles around your back your diaphragm, it’s like the cylinder around abdominal area between our pelvis and our diaphragm. So what are some appropriate core exercises during pregnancy? This is when a podcast is a little bit tricky. But I wouldn’t be giving sit ups and full planks to pregnant women. However, there’s a lot of modified planks and other core exercises so many different forms a core exercises that aren’t going to put your pelvic floor and abdominal muscle separation under extra load. So if you’re not sure what core exercises that are appropriate for pregnancy, then come and try our FitNest Mama Workouts for free for 7-Days to get an idea

Okay, alongside pelvic floor and core, we want to have a mixture of strength, but also aerobic exercises. So strength exercises are so important for so many different reasons for bone health and working on our muscle strength and stability. And then the aerobics side, of course, is also important. So there’s lots of ways we can get a mixture of pelvic floor and core and strength and aerobic exercises. So there’s that might include walking, stationary cycling might include the cross trainer or swimming or you go girl weights, or Pilates. So there’s so many different options out there.

Now this does take me into my next point is we do need to take into account aches and pains. And this is when I feel it starts to get a bit tricky, because let’s say for example, your main form of exercise during pregnancy is walking. But then you start to develop pelvic girdle pain or back pain, and you might be getting really achy at night. If that’s the case for you and you are achy and sore around the pelvis and back, I would be looking into what you’re doing during the day that might be stirring up that pain. And unfortunately, walking although it’s a brilliant exercise for pregnancy, and I love it, it’s free, it’s easy. It’s a great form of exercise. However, for some women, I do tend to find walking stirs up pelvic girdle pain.

So let’s say you’re working seven days a week, we might need to substitute a few of those walks with a different form of exercise, that’s not going to stir up your pelvic girdle pain, so it doesn’t mean we necessarily need to cut out walking altogether, it might mean that we just need to back off and add a few different variations or different a bit of variety to your program. So I am obviously biased first to put up my hand, but I do feel fitness Pilates, the fitness pregnancy workouts are so well placed here to help you exercise during pregnancy.

So they’re easy to access, you can do them at home when your toddler is running around or when you’ve got a spare 15 minutes when you get home from work at the end of the day. There’s short workouts if you’re feeling really time poor or you don’t have much time in the day or you’re feeling a bit nauseous and you don’t want to be doing a long workout. So there’s a range of short to longer workouts there’s a range of cardio strength, core and pelvic floor exercises and all the fitness workouts. And most importantly, there’s modifications for aches and pains. So if you do find that your achy and your sore when you do your normal exercise or your normal walk, if you jump into FitNest Mama Membership, you’ll find there’s a whole module of gentle pregnancy workouts that are really suitable if you have pelvic girdle or low back pain.

So I always say, to my mums that after doing a workout, I want you to feel rejuvenated. I want you to feel refreshed. I don’t want you to feel exhausted or tired or sore. So if you’re listening today and you think that’s me, just have a think what is your program? Is there anything that you can adapt? Is there anything you can tweak or change and substitute with something else? So that’s it in a nutshell lady.

So just a quick summary. Make sure you’ve got your medical clearance. Make sure you can do the talk test so you can talk while you’re exercising and you’re not getting your heart rate up too high. Try to be doing something every day if you can. So 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is the recommended amount by Rand Skog. And as a general rule of thumb low impact exercises recommended for pregnant women. Don’t forget your pelvic floor exercises. Don’t forget your core exercises. And let’s get a mixture of strength and aerobics exercises too.

Take into account aches and pains don’t push through them that’s the last thing you want to do. We want to nip those aches and pains in the bud so that you have an amazing remainder of your pregnancy and you can enjoy it as much as possible. So that’s it ladies short and sweet for today. And remember if you did want to trial a 7-Day Free Trial of the FitNest Mama Membership to simply head to https://fitnestmama.com/free and before I sign off remember my team and I will be putting together the Show Notes for this episode with all the links at https://fitnestmama.com/podcast and touch base with me on instagram let me know if you have listened to this episode. I would love to hear from you. Have a fabulous day everyone and I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

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