Ante and Post Natal Exercise

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Ante and Post Natal Exercise

Much to peoples surprise there are actually a lot of exercises you can do whilst pregnant, which is great news for expecting mothers! There is also now a lot more information out there to support you in making a decision to continue exercising.

This is a perfect opportunity to realise the shift in focus away from always wanting to ‘loose weight’ and ‘get abs’ and more towards ‘nourishing’ and ‘doing what’s best’ by your body. A strange realisation for many!


  • Health benefits for you and your baby

  • Less chance of excess weight gain

  • Easier to get back into exercise post pregnancy

  • Fitness for labour and faster delivery

  • Improved mood and sleep

  • Improved energy levels

  • Increased self confidence

  • Less chance of abdominal diastasis (separation)

  • Better posture leading to less back pain

  • Exercise can assist with stabilization, posture alignment, strengthening the pelvic floor, and core support.

What to be mindful of:

  • Your Heart Rate, it has been said that this should be kept below 140 bpm

  • The hormone Relaxin which will relax the ligaments and joints to prepare you for child birth, which can lead you to becoming injured easier

  • Listen to your body and how you are feeling, if you are training with a trainer keep communication lines open

  • Sedentary females must wait until after the 15th week to participate in an exercise program

A special consideration must be made based on the two following factors as to what your activity level will be in regards to exercising whilst pregnant:

Activity levels prior to falling pregnant

Your health

Exercise Types:

  • Resistance training

  • Specific core and pelvic floor/kegel exercises

  • Cardiovascular exercise (at a lower intensity for 15 minutes max) or Aerobics

  • Pilates

  • Yoga

  • Water exercise like water aerobics

  • Stretching

  • Most ZUU

Resistance Training Principles:

Warm up: 5 minutes plus, e.g. slow walking or cycling

Cool down: 5 minutes plus e.g. slow walking or cycling

Stretch: your flexibility is important however do not over stretch

Reps: 10-15

Sets: 2-3 sets depending on level of fatigue

Rest in between sets: adequate, at least 1 minute

Duration 30 minutes or less per session

Sessions per week 3-5 depending on current activity level

Do not push heavy loads to a point where you are straining

Isolation exercises targeting specific muscle groups are safer than compound / full body movements

Examples of Ante Natal resistance training exercises:

  • Medicine ball exercises

  • Resistance Band Exercises

  • Cable Exercises

  • Exercise using a mat

  • Isolation exercises

  • Seated, some standing and machine exercise


  • Cat/cow

  • Spinal balance

  • Good mornings

  • Planks (good until the belly touches the floor!)

  • Bridges (up until the second trimester)

  • Lunges

  • Hip Thrusts

  • Deadlifts (do not go heavy)

  • Box Squats and squat variations (do not squat below 90 degrees, narrower stance and do not go heavy)

  • Traditional barbell, dumbbell or cable strength exercises (shoulder upright rows, lateral raises, incline chest flys and press, bent over row/one arm row and other row variations, shrugs, biceps curls, triceps extensions, pushups, either on the floor or with hands against the wall)

  • Most machine based exercises

  • Avoid twisting and rotating exercises

  • Avoid over head movements

  • Avoid isometric holds


Listen to your body, continue your current activity level pre pregnancy however if you were participating in strenuous exercise often you will need to taper this back a little

You will become more mindful of posture, be cautious of prone and supine exercises.

Avoid prone and supine positions all together, taper training back to walking, flexibility and light strength training,

Post Natal Exercise Tips:

  • Take your time getting back into exercise, your pelvic floor will need work and you will be sleep deprived

  • Doctors consent must be given to return to exercise

  • C section mummys will need to wait a minimum of 6 weeks to return to fitness

  • Wait for bleeding to stop

  • Take it easy on the core exercises as your pelvic floor will still be healing

  • Relaxin will still be in the body for up to 3-6 months postpartum, therefore still take it easy with jumping, jolting and strenuous exercise and sports,

  • Walking is a good place to start when easing back into exercise

  • Hydrate

  • Rest

  • Don’t push yourself too hard, life has change significantly and some days you wont be able to get to the gym, be ok with this

  • Exercise has many psychological benefits that can aid your well being

Dos and Don’ts


  • See your health professional prior to commencing an exercise program

  • See a Physiotherapist who specialises in women’s health if in doubt

  • Participate in moderate activity

  • Pelvic floor exercises daily

  • Maintain postural, core and pelvic floor awareness the whole time when exercising

  • Wear loose fitting clothes and a supportive sports bra

  • Stay hydrated

  • Watch blood sugar levels

  • Watch your symptoms

  • Wear a FitBit or similar device to monitor your heart rate

Do Not/Things to avoid:

  • Participate in strenuous sports exercise such as: high intensity training, heavy weights, stop start sports

  • Exercise at a moderate intensity

  • Hot yoga

  • Exercise for long durations

  • Strain

  • Exercise to exhaustion

  • Do not hold your breath when exercising


Fitness Australia

Fit Pregnancy

The Pregnancy Centre

Women’s Health

Pregnancy Birth & Baby

Roar Physio

Life Ready Physio

Thanks for reading,

Jaime – Personal Trainer Certified in Ante and Post Natal Exercise

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