Exercising during your third trimester

By now as you enter your 3rd trimester, you may be feeling more tired, exhausted, & just ready to have your baby (well… not the labor part but after, right?). You can learn my Push Prep Method to help prepare for pushing baby when the time comes. As you exit out of your 2nd trimester, you may be noticing that everything is just a little harder.

Exercise may be getting more difficult especially since your lung capacity has greatly decreased. The solution — just decrease your intensity. There’s nothing wrong with taking it down a notch or two. Keep doing the exercises you have been doing, keep it simple, do what feels good for you and your body and keep communication open with your doctor.


As you enter your 3rd trimester, in addition to modifications in Exercising During your 2nd Trimester:

  • You may feel like you “just can’t get a big enough breath in”, which is completely normal. Your baby is getting bigger and taking up more space, thus causing less room for your diaphragm to expand. This leaves you having a hard time breathing, especially when exerting energy. As you breathe, try to breathe out into your sides and into your back. Continue practicing good posture and engaging in cardio exercise as these can help increase your ability to breathe deeper both during and after pregnancy.


  • Having a hard time getting a breath in? Stretch your arms overhead and take in really deep, slow breaths. I recommend sitting down, but sitting straight with good posture.


  • Some women begin to feel Sciatic nerve pain, a dull or sharp pain in your butt, which usually runs down your leg. Exercise may or may not help alleviate sciatic pain. If you’re experiencing in the beginning or middle of your pregnancy with appropriate exercises, you can usually get the sciatic pain to go away, or at least minimize it. If you’re near the end of your pregnancy, many times it’s the position of your baby plus the added weight that’s causing the pain, and it may not resolve until after baby is born.
  • If you have sciatic pain, you should avoid any straight leg lifts or kicks as this can pull even more on your sciatic nerve & make it worse. There are several amazing exercises I’ve included in the Knocked Up Fitness Guide to Pregnancy and Knocked-Up Fitness Membership that can help alleviate those small aches & pains. Be sure to watch the foam rolling video here that could help with both sciatic and low back pain. You will find many more release videos and information when you join my Knocked-Up Fitness Membership. 


  • Swelling of your legs, ankles, and feet is common, especially the last month or two. Regular exercise during your 3rd trimester can help with swelling and varicose veins. Elevate your feet as often as you can  while avoiding standing or sitting for long periods of time. If you tend to stand a lot, try setting an alarm to remind you to sit or modify your day so you can rest your feet.


  • If you haven’t been already, be sure you roll to your side when you are getting up to avoid overusing your abs (specifically rectus abdominals) to help minimize or avoid diastasis recti (abdominal separation). Continue avoiding any crunching motion exercises — planks can be ok for some — but I recommend doing the modified plank into your 3rd trimester as long as you are able to properly engage your deep core muscles and avoid any “coning” of your belly. Rotational exercise such as Squats with Rotation, Forward Rolls (also a great back stretch), and Cat Cows are wonderful, just to name a few.


  • Stay Hydrated! Take breaks every 20 minutes or so during exercise to drink water (you will probably have to pee as well!). Dehydration is one cause of early labor. Remember: if you are thirsty, then you are already dehydrated!


“I’ve always loved small group pilates classes and when I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to keep it up. A friend of mine posted about these videos on facebook, so I thought I would give them a try. I had never done a pilates video before, and they have exceeded my expectations. Some days its just not possible to get to class, and these videos have proven to be just as good. Plus, I love knowing that when the baby comes, and my schedule might leave me more restricted to my home, I can do these to get back in to shape. Whether you’re a pilates snob or a novice, these videos work.”
~Monica Paull
  • If you haven’t already, you may begin to feel “Braxton-Hicks Contractions”. This is your body’s way of practicing for the real event…LABOR! They are completely normal, so don’t worry. These contractions may come on stronger as you exercise (due to dehydration), so it’s even more important that you stay hydrated. If you start to feel them come on too strong, it’s an indication to momentarily stop exercise, sit, drink some water, and once you feel better continue your exercise as long as your body is telling you it’s ok. If not, give yourself a break and see how you feel tomorrow. If they don’t stop or decrease intensity, it’s probably a good idea to go see your Doc — especially if you are within those last 4 weeks or so.


  • As you near the end of your pregnancy baby will “drop” getting ready for the main event and making it easier to breath! Relief! But now you have to pee ALL THE TIME! You may feel as though your baby is going to “fall out”! He/She/They won’t, but it’s a great reason to have a strong deep core muscles (pelvic floor and transverse). After your baby has dropped, there may be exercises that don’t feel so good anymore, so just don’t do them,  modify them and go through a smaller range of motion and decrease the resistance.


Basically by now I’m sure you’ve figured out if it’s not one thing…it’s another! You just learn how to adjust.

Having gone through 3 pregnancies, all very different, my best advice during the 3rd trimester is to get out and move every day, even if you don’t have the energy. It doesn’t have to be hard or long — just move (as long as it’s not painful).

Painful and tired are two different things. If this is your first pregnancy, take advantage of it and sleep as much as you can. During my first pregnancy I slept 12 hours every night during the last month (except to get up and pee of course!). With my 2nd pregnancy I couldn’t do that, but I did sneak in naps when my daughter slept. With my 3rd, there is no time to sleep!


Remember, some things can wait and you and your baby’s health is the most important thing right now. Even though you may have a list a mile long of things you want to get done before your baby arrives, they can wait. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your hubby (of course), as well as close friends and family.


Related Articles:


Recommended Knocked-Up Fitness Membership:


***Always check with your Doctor to make sure you are cleared to exercise during your pregnancy***

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