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

So you’re pregnant and wondering how to continue exercising. Fitness blogger Petra Månström tells us about how she got her pregnancy exercise sorted.

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

Pregnant? Congrats! Are you wondering what’s going to happen about your workouts? You’re not alone. I went through the exact same experience last year.

I discovered I was expecting – which was brilliant of course – but the fitness freak in me was immediately concerned about exercising. What kind of workouts can I do when I’m pregnant? And what’s going to happen to my workouts after the delivery?

I searched like crazy for articles and books about pregnancy exercises but found very little balanced information. I soon realised 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 number one 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, which is hardly surprising as the blood volume rapidly increases in your body when you’re pregnant.

I was also building up lactic acid faster than ever and, despite running at what was a very slow pace for me, my legs felt like concrete posts. 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 toilet several times before I went out, I felt like I needed to pee after just a few kilometres. 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 workout worked out? Well, spinning and weights. Of course, I couldn’t manage my usual full-power performance, 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 endorphine kicks all the way until the final bell. 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, exercising can get a bit trickier and, in a worst case scenario, you may have 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 exercise.

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

Hugs from Petra Månström

Petra Månström

Age: 39.
Family: Family: Partner Jonas and son Adrian, 4 months.
Works as: Journalist specialising 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” (Karavan förlag) in 2014.