Third Trimester Exercise Tips
Third trimester – home stretch! The third trimester can bring with it a recurrence of some symptoms from the first trimester (fatigue being one), a big belly and some new discomforts. Unfortunately, the third trimester is also a time when many women significantly decrease or stop exercising completely. Assuming there are no medical conditions necessitating the cessation of exercise, exercise should be continued throughout your entire pregnancy, including the third trimester.
Why? For the answer we reference Dr. James F. Clapp’s research and his book Exercising Through Your Pregnancy. Dr. Clapp explains that by stopping exercise, expecting moms miss out on the benefits that prenatal exercise has on the health of both mom and baby. These women are either in the same boat as women who didn’t exercise at all during pregnancy or in some cases they are worse off!
Here are some examples:
- Women who stop exercising in late pregnancy tend to produce the biggest and fattest babies of all (with even more body fat than babies of women who didn’t exercise at all during pregnancy).
- Women who cut way back or stop exercising in late pregnancy gain about five more pounds and accumulate about one to two percent more body fat than women who don’t exercise at all during pregnancy.
- Once stopping exercise, women often experience an increase in the usual pregnancy-related physical symptoms such as fatigue, leg aches and lower back pain.
- Women who stop exercising also miss out on the labor and delivery benefits that exercise has been shown to provide, which can be generally stated as a decrease in the need for all types of medical intervention (i.e. pain relief, labor stimulation, forceps delivery, cesarean section).
Pretty convincing reasons to keep exercising!
Here are some tips to help you with third trimester exercise:
Third trimester exercise should make you feel better, not worse. Listen to your body and pay attention for feelings of pain or overexertion. These are signs that you need to take a break, decrease the intensity or change the type of exercise.
Stay hydrated – hydrating is important all throughout pregnancy and any time you exercise. In the third trimester it becomes even more important because dehydration can bring on contractions and preterm labor.
Walk regularly or do other forms of weight bearing cardio (dancing and stair climbing are two other options to consider).
Squat! If squats aren’t already part of your exercise routine, now’s the time to get started. Squats are not only a great resistance exercise but also one of the best exercises to prepare your body for childbirth. Because we do so much sitting in our everyday lives, squatting can be difficult at first. Squatting with a stability ball between your lower back and a wall is a great way start.
Do what you can, even if all you can manage is 10 minutes. We know you have a lot going on in your third trimester and you might not be feeling 100%, but regular exercise is beneficial for you and your baby, and 10 minutes of exercise is better than no exercise.
Ready to try some actual workouts? Check out our mom workouts page.