Pregnancy workouts – Can I work out when I’m pregnant?

Wondering how to exercise when pregnant? Fitness blogger Petra Månström talks about her pregnancy workouts.

BABYBJÖRN Magazine – A pregnant Petra Månström does pregnancy workouts with weights in the gym.
Strength training with light weights was the ideal pregnancy exercise for Petra Månström.
Photo: Private

Pregnant? Congrats! Wondering about your pregnancy workouts? You’re not alone. I went through the exact same experience last year.

I found out that I was expecting – which was great, of course – but the fitness freak in me was immediately concerned about exercising while pregnant. What kind of pregnancy workouts could I do? And what would happen to my workouts after the delivery?

I searched like crazy for articles and books about pregnancy exercise but found very little balanced information. I soon realized that I had to have the courage to trust myself, to work out as best as I could but be extremely aware of my body’s signals.

Running as pregnancy exercise?

Before I was pregnant, running was my No. 1 priority. But at a very early stage in my pregnancy I began to have problems. I quickly got very out of breath and felt it impossible to breathe deeply, hardly surprising because the blood volume increases rapidly in your body when you’re pregnant.

I was also building up lactic acid faster than ever and, despite running at a very slow pace for me, my legs felt like concrete pillars. Further into the pregnancy, when my stomach began to grow, the downward pressure also increased, which resulted in my being constantly on the run – to the toilet.

Running was basically impossible. Even when I’d been to the bathroom several times before I went out, I felt like I needed to pee after just a few miles. So, somewhere around week 20 I decided to take a break from running.

What kind of pregnancy exercises could I do?

So which kind of workouts worked out? Well, spinning and weights. Of course, I couldn’t perform full throttle as I was used to, but it felt surprisingly good.

My last spinning pass was the day before giving birth (!). It was great to be able to get these wonderful endorphin kicks down to my core. My strength training consisted of either group workouts (circuit training, barbells, etc.) or on my own in the gym.

Basically the same exercises that I used to do when I wasn’t pregnant, but I took off some weights and increased the number of repetitions instead. Plus, I skipped ab exercises, lunges and deadlifts. Pelvic lifts and pelvic floor exercises, on the other hand – I did plenty of those!

Exercise during pregnancy helped pelvic girdle pain

If you’re unlucky enough to suffer from loose pelvic ligaments, pregnancy workouts can get a bit trickier and, in the worst case, force you to rest completely. I had pelvic girdle pain during the latter part of my pregnancy, but was able to keep the pain at bay with the help of pregnancy exercises.

If this is a problem for you, too, I recommend finding a physiotherapist specializing in pregnant women, who can provide highly qualified help – much better than if you go to a regular general practitioner or midwife. A pregnancy massage also does wonders for sore muscles.

Hugs from Petra Månström

Petra Månström

Age: 39.
Family: Partner Jonas and son Adrian.
Works as: Journalist specializing in fitness and health. Manages the Marathon Podcast, Scandinavia’s most popular podcast on endurance sports, and blogs at Published her book “Det är bara att springa” (“Just run“) in 2014.