A concern many pregnant women have is whether they can still exercise during pregnancy, or whether they should take it easy and limit exercise to slower, gentler activities such as walking. The good news for gym bunnies is that exercise is not dangerous for your baby, as long as you take care, listen to your body and don’t overdo it.

Exercise is beneficial to pregnant women in so many ways, including fewer back aches and pains, more energy, feeling better about your pregnant body and a faster return to your pre-pregnancy shape after birth.

Here are some tips for exercising in each trimester of your pregnancy.

First Trimester

Morning sickness and low levels of energy might affect how often you get to exercise during the first trimester. Also, at this stage, you don’t look pregnant, so it is wise to inform your gym buddies of your pregnancy so they know to go easy on you when your energy drops. Take care to warm up and do stretching exercises. Stretching is a good idea throughout your pregnancy as it makes you more flexible, keeps your muscles loose and it’s a healthy way to relax and release stress.

Sit-ups and crunches are generally fine in the first trimester, but it’s best to avoid them later on in your pregnancy. In most cases, trampoline jumping should be avoided completely during pregnancy.

Second Trimester

You should suffer less fatigue during your second trimester as your body starts to adapt to many of the first trimester changes. During the second trimester, there are increased physical changes as your baby bump starts to grow and your centre of gravity shifts forward. This is sure to affect your balance and exercises which require stability will be more challenging, especially some yoga poses. Another physical change is that your blood pressure decreases, so watch out for dizzy spells.

Swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step machines, and low-impact aerobics (taught by a certified aerobics instructor) are great ways to stay fit during the second trimester, as long as you discuss this with your doctor and avoid overdoing it!.

Exercises to avoid in your second trimester include high-intensity aerobic classes, crunches, planks and full press ups. Running is safe during your entire pregnancy if you are having an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Third Trimester

The bigger your tummy grows, the more challenging and uncomfortable exercising becomes. Low-impact exercises, such as yoga and Pilates are great for women in their third trimester, as these workouts target all the major muscle groups, which can help you feel fit and strong for birth. Other safe exercise options include brisk walking and even jogging if you feel up to it. Swimming and aqua aerobics can also be therapeutic when you have aches and pains, as water takes the pressure off of tired legs and backs.

As long as you are being kind to yourself, exercise can be an excellent way of spending quality me time before the birth of your baby, so keep going!