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Exercise does wonders for you during pregnancy. It helps prepare you for childbirth by strengthening your muscles and increasing your energy, and makes getting your body back in shape once the baby's born much easier.

stacey chillemi

New Jersey

Affiliation: freelance writer

Interests: writing inspirational, self-help, poetry and health

Education/Experience: author/written for many people

Biography: Chillemi is in the process of publishing several books including, "Epilepsy and Pregnancy,” which she coauthored with Dr. Blanca Vazquez, "My Mommy Has Epilepsy" and "Love of a Lifetime.”  She has also published "Epilepsy You're Not Alone.”  For more inform




By Stacey Chillemi, freelance writer




Exercise does wonders for you during pregnancy.  It helps prepare you for childbirth by strengthening your muscles and increasing your energy, and makes getting your body back in shape once the baby's born much easier.


If you want to exercise while you are pregnant, you should consult your doctor first and get your doctor's OK first.  You and your doctor should decide what is best for you and the baby. 

Your doctor may limit the amount of exercise you can do or your doctor may tell you not to exercise at all if you experience certain medical conditions -- such as:


-         Pre-term rupture of membranes
- Pregnancy-induced hypertension
- Pre-term labor (Pre-term labor is a typical full-term pregnancy lasts 37 to 42 weeks, calculated from the first day of your last menstrual period to childbirth.  Pre-term labor, or premature labor, is the early onset of uterine contractions before 37 weeks, but after 20 weeks of pregnancy.)

- Persistent second- or third-trimester bleeding
- Poor fetal growth
- Incompetent cervix or multiple-birth pregnancy


Questions that have been asked about the effects of exercise on pregnant women, there is no proof that gentle exercise has any bad effects on pregnancy.  Studies have not shown any benefits for the baby, but gentle exercise might help you feel better and maintain your weight.


Staying active during pregnancy does not necessarily mean you have to over exert yourself until your muscles start to ache.  Your body releases a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy that loosens your joints in preparation for delivery, so it may not make sense to exercise as hard as you did before you became pregnant.  Do not over flex or overextend the knee joints, as with deep-knee bends, unless your body is well conditioned for these motions.  Knee joints are more prone to injury because of the pregnancy hormone relaxin, which softens ligaments and tendons.  If you want to exercise, you should choose exercises that will not harm you or the baby.  You have to stay within your limits and not overexert yourself.


Make sure you drink plenty of water prior to, all through and after exercising, especially when the weather is hot or humid.  Personally, I always had seizures if I spent too much time in outside in the hot and humid weather.  My body would be drained from the sun and the stress on my body caused by the heat would cause me to have a seizure.  In was summer when I was pregnant with my son Michael.  Even though I enjoy the summer weather, I made sure I spent the summer inside where there was air condition.  I did not want to take any chances.  I was not just worrying about myself anymore; I had a living baby inside whom to care for.


You should drink plenty of water if you decide to go swimming.  You do not have to feel like you are dehydrated to actually be dehydrated.  An increase in core body temperatures in early pregnancy can cause fetal defects, and dehydration in late pregnancy is related with premature labor.


When you exercise always starts an exercise program with a warm-up and ends your exercise with a cool-down.  Gentle stretches will prevent strains, joint injuries and muscle cramps.  It is import to do that when putting your muscles through a workout. 

When you exercise, it is important that the clothes you wear feel comfortable.  When you are sweating and working out, you want to keep cool.  The sneakers you wear for running, jogging and walking should have good cushioning under the heel to avoid injuries to the foot or Achilles tendon (The Achilles tendon connects the calf muscle to the heel bone.  As the biggest tendon in the human body, it withstands a large amount of force with each foot movement.  The Achilles tendon allows the foot to point downward and enables you to stand on your toes).  You should wear a bra while you exercise.  Bras provide good support, especially because your breasts become tender and very sensitive during pregnancy.  If you feel symptoms such as chest pains, vaginal bleeding, or uterine contractions, or if your membranes rupture, stop exercising immediately and call your doctor. 

Remember to eat a healthy well-balanced diet, if possible five or six small meals, or snacks per day, to replace the calories and glucose used by your working muscles during exercise.  Your metabolism speeds up during your pregnancy so do not worry about gaining too much weight.  Now is not the time to worry about your weight.  Worry about you and your baby's health.  You will have plenty of time to focus on losing weight after the pregnancy.

Avoid exercises on your back after the first trimester or whenever you feel dizzy, lightheaded, or nauseated.  The weight of your uterus puts pressure on the vein responsible for returning blood from the lower body to the heart.


During your pregnancy, you should stay away from contact sports, such as football and basketball; adventure sports, such as water skiing and scuba diving; and sports that carry a high risk of trauma, such as horseback riding and downhill skiing.

Be careful and make sure you stay away from activities that increase your risk of falls or injury, such as contact sports or forceful sports.  Even mild injuries to the "tummy¡¨ area can be serious when you are pregnant.  After 3 months of pregnancy, it is best to avoid exercising while lying on your back, since the weight of the baby may interfere with blood circulation.  Also, do not to stand for a long time.


Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet.  Normally, pregnancy increases your food requirements by at least 300 calories a day, even without exercise.

Exercise gets your heart pumping, keeps you flexible, helps you take control of your weight gain, and gets your muscles ready for the hard work of labor and delivery ¡X without causing unnecessary stress on your body or the baby.  Many activities such as running and weight training are fine in the beginning, but you may need to adjust your exercise routine, as your body becomes bigger.  You will be better off staying away from activities that could put you at risk for slips and falls, such as bicycling, roller balding, horseback riding, and skiing.


The following exercises are reasonably safe for pregnant moms to be, even though some of them may not work for you during the last few months of your pregnancy.  To be safe, talk to your doctor before starting on any of these activities:

Cardiovascular Exercising

Walking for pregnant women one of the best cardiovascular exercises is walking.

The benefits of walking during pregnancy: 

- Walking is an excellent way to your tone muscles.
- Walking enables you to get out of the house and get fresh air.
- Walking can help you sleep soundly at night
- Walking keeps, you fit without hurting your knees and ankles. 
- Walking is a safe exercise to throughout your nine months of pregnancy.
- If you have not been exercising for a while, walking is one of the easier ways to start.

If you already walk, then continue your regular walking regiment.  Begin by walking walk 20 - 30 minutes a day three days a week and slowly increase your amount of walking exercise time to 30 - 60 minutes on most, if not all, days of the week.


Tips for the first trimester


You will not need to change your usual walking habits, but make sure you have the proper walking shoes so your feet get the support they need, particularly around the ankles and arches.  Wear a sun hat and carry a spray bottle full of water for cooling off during the summer.  Remember too much sun can bring on a seizure, so you want to try to avoid the sun as much as possible.  The hot heat from the sun can drain you and stress your body to the point where you can have a seizure.  Therefore, you should try to avoid the hot sun as much as possible.  Bring water along with you when you go for a walk to prevent dehydration, which can cause contractions and raises your body temperature, sometimes to the point where it can be dangerous for you and your baby.  If it is very hot and humid outside, go for a walk in an air-conditioned mall, go to the gym, or exercise at home.  You do not want to overheat.


Do not push yourself to the extreme.  Your pulse rate should not be above 140 beats per minute at any time during your walk.  You should be able to speak in complete sentences without having to huff, puff, and gasp out only short phrases.  A pulse more than 100 beats per minute five minutes after a workout means you have worked your body too hard.  Drink water before, during, and after your walk to help regulate your core body temperature.  The fetus cannot get rid of excessive heat, so avoid exercising in hot weather and keep your walking workout moderate.  Consider mall walking as an alternative during hot weather.  However, do not spend too much while you are at the mall!


Tips for the second trimester


As your body becomes bigger, your way of walking may now be clumsier, so pay attention to your posture when you walk to avoid straining your back.  Keep your head straight, your chin level, your hips tucked under your shoulders to avoid sway back, and your eyes on what lies ahead.  Swing your arms for balance and to build up your workout.  You may want to find a walking friend, someone who can join you on your walks and keep you motivated to continue walking regularly.


Tips for the third trimester


Keep up your walking routine as long as you can, but stay clear of any vigorous activities such as, hiking trails, mountain climbing or any uneven land that could put you off-balance.  As you get closer to your due date, you may also want to consider walking on a track.  Not only is the surface easier on your body, but also you may feel safer knowing that you will not be stuck far from home or your car in case of an emergency.

Warning signs


Never walk to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.  Pushing your body to the limit forces your body to use oxygen that should be going to your baby.  Stop walking immediately and call your doctor as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

- Vaginal bleeding
- Dizziness
- Fainting
- Blurred vision
- Contractions


If you enjoy jogging or running, and practice it as part of your exercise regiment, you probably will want to continue it during your pregnancy.  Jogging and running is a safe activity that many pregnant women continue during their pregnancy, with modification, throughout their pregnancy.  If you have never run before, now is not a good time to start.

Going for a jog is the quickest and best way to work your heart and body, giving you a mental, physical, and spiritual boost when you feel tired.  It is easy to fit jogging or running into your schedule ¡X running 15 minutes one day when that's all you have time for, and a half hour the next when your schedule permits it.

If you ran or jogged regularly before getting pregnant, it is fine to continue as long as you take some precautions.  If you are the type who laces up your sneakers and then run out the door without stretching, change your ways quick!  Now that you are pregnant, you need to take some extra safety measures.  You need to stretch both before and after running.  Stretching will help prevent injuries.  Gentle easy stretching is the best.

Stop and walk if you feel Braxton Hicks contractions (rhythmic tightening of the lower abdomen) or ligament pain.  Stop if you feel pain, persistent contractions, leakage of fluid, fatigue, dizziness, or any medical problem.

Running can be hard on your knees.  In addition, because your joints loosen during pregnancy, you are more prone to injury.  Therefore, unless you are a dedicated runner, you should probably avoid this workout at least until after your baby arrives.

Tips for running during the first trimester

Follow the usual safety measures, such as monitoring your heart rate drinking lots of water before, during, and after a jog or run.  If you do not drink plenty of water, you can get dehydrated, which can decrease blood flow to the uterus and may even cause premature contractions.  Wear proper shoes that provide plenty of support for your feet, especially around the ankles and arches.  You may want to invest in a good sports bra to make sure your growing breasts are well supported.

During the beginning of pregnancy, you may experience bouts of nausea and fatigue the first few months.  Try running outdoors if you normally run on an indoor track.  The fresh air may help.  If you find yourself losing weigh from vomiting, cut back on your running or stop until you are gaining adequate weight.  Talk to your doctor for his medical advice, so you do not harm you or the baby. 

The first few months can be difficult because you will probably begin to feel fatigue.  Run during the day when you feel the least tired.  Running with tender swollen breasts is uncomfortable.  Buy a good supportive bra with side adjustable straps or a sports bra.  As weeks go by, you may need to move up to a larger size.

In the beginning of your pregnancy, you will notice that you will begin to urinate more frequency.  Try to run close to home, so if you have to go to the bathroom, you will not be far from home.  Make sure you stop any racing, speed work, or vigorous long runs once you learn you are pregnant.


Tips for running during the second trimester


Your center of gravity is shifting, and your belly is growing, leaving you at risk to slips and falls.  Stick to flat pavement for safety.  In addition, if you do lose your balance, fall correctly.  Fall to your side or on your behind, to avoid trauma to the abdomen.  You may want to start running on a track as your pregnancy progresses.  Not only is the track surface easier on your body, but also you may feel safer running somewhere where you will not be stuck in case of an emergency.


Tips for running in the third trimester

Be as careful as you have been in the first two trimesters.  In addition, remember, if you feel too fatigued to go for a run, listen to your body, and take a break. Although being inactive is unhealthy, pushing yourself too hard is also harmful.  Most avid runners find that their jogging pace slows down considerably during the third trimester ¡X a fast waddle or shuffle may be the best you can do.

Warning signs

Never run or jog to the point of exhaustion or breathlessness.  Pushing your body to the limit forces your body to use up oxygen that should be going to your baby.


Doctors and fitness experts say swimming is the best and safest exercise for pregnant women.  Swimming is a great exercise to practice during your pregnancy because it exercises both large muscle groups (arms and legs), provides good cardiovascular benefits, and allows expectant women to feel good about them.  If you swam a lot before you got pregnant, you should be able to continue without too much change.  If you did not exercise at all, you should still be able to start swimming.  Call your doctor first and make sure he feels it is safe for you and the baby.  You will need to start slowly, stretch well before and after, warm up and cool down gradually, and do not do too much.

Swimming is great exercise because it uses large muscle groups (arms and legs).  Though low-impact, it provides good cardiovascular benefits, and allows you to feel weightless despite the extra pounds of pregnancy.  It is also a very safe form of exercise because the risk of injury is low.

Tips for the first trimester

If you have the energy, go for a swim for at least 20 minutes every other day for greatest benefit.  Swimming first thing in the morning may work against morning sickness and fatigue, so you can enjoy the rest of the day. 

Tips for the second trimester

your pregnancy will not require you to cut down on swimming as you grow because it is easy on expectant moms.  You probably will not need to adjust your schedule, but a maternity swimsuit may be more comfortable as your belly expands.  If it is off-season, it may be tough to find one.  If you have trouble finding one I would suggest going to a maternity shop or by searching online.

Tips for the third trimester

The water supports your joints and ligaments as you exercise, preventing injury, and it protects you from overheating.  The breaststroke is particularly beneficial in the third trimester, because it lengthens the chest muscles and shortens the back muscles, two areas that typically become uneven as your body changes during pregnancy. Use a snorkel to relieve pressure on your neck that is created when you bob up and down for air.

Aerobic Exercise

Any type of aerobic exercise helps increase your body's ability to process and use oxygen, which is important for you and your baby.

The benefits of aerobic exercise:

- Aerobic exercise improves circulation.
- Aerobic exercise increases muscle tone and strength.
- Aerobic exercise builds stamina.
- You will burn calories by doing aerobic exercise.
- Aerobic exercise will build your strength and help you feel less fatigued.
- You will be able to sleep better doing aerobic exercises.
- Aerobic exercising helps condition your body to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy. 

Yoga and Stretching

Yoga is a wonderful exercise to practice during pregnancy. It will help you mentally and physically during your pregnancy. It is also, said, to do wonders on the physical and mental development of the fetus. Ensuring a healthy baby is every woman's dream and yoga can help you do just that. 

Yoga can help work on the reproductive organs and pelvis to ensure a smooth pregnancy and a relatively easy childbirth. At the delicate level, these ensure optimum supply of blood and nutrients to the developing fetus.

Yoga and stretching can help maintain muscle tone and keep you flexible with little if any impact on your joints. However, you may have to add to your yoga schedule by walking a few times a week to give your heart a workout.

The benefits of prenatal yoga

Prenatal yoga classes are more popular than ever. Yoga, when combined with a cardiovascular exercise such as walking, can be an ideal way to maintain fitness when you are pregnant. When you stretch or do yoga, you are toning your muscles, improving your balance and your circulation, and limbering up with little, if any, impact on your joints good news for pregnant women.

Benefits of Yoga

- Yoga can help relieving fluid retention and cramping which can be quite common

- Yoga can Influence the position of the baby and turning it in advance if needed.


Strengthening and massaging your abdomen will help stimulate your bowel action and appetite.

- Yoga can raise your energy level while also helping in slowing the metabolism to make you feel calm and focused.

- Yoga can help reduce nausea, morning sickness, and mood swings in combination with yoga breathing called pranayamas.

- Yoga can help you focus on relieving tension around the cervix and birth canal.

- Yoga can help you focus on opening the pelvis to make labor easier and quicker.


Yoga is also a great exercise to do because it helps you breathe and relax. It can help you adjust to the physical demands of labor, birth, and motherhood. One of the first things you learn in a yoga class is how to breathe fully. The breathing technique is called ujayi
It requires you to take in air slowly through your nose, filling your lungs entirely, and exhaling completely until your stomach compresses. Learning how to do ujayi breathing primes you for labor and childbirth by training you to stay calm when you need it most. When you are afraid ¡X during labor, for example ¡X the body produces adrenalin and shuts down the production of oxytocin, a hormone that makes labor progress. Yoga training will help you fight the urge to tighten up when you feel the pain, and show you how to breathe instead. 

The benefits of yoga are not only limited to your physical well-being. Taking a prenatal yoga class is a great way to meet other pregnant women. Being in a positive, supportive area with other pregnant women like you can give you a regular emotional boost and keep you motivated to continue exercising. 






First trimester tips

Seek out instructors who are specially trained in prenatal yoga, but if that's not possible, make sure your instructor knows that you're expecting and tell the instructor how far long you are in your pregnancy. You probably do not have many restrictions this early in your pregnancy, but remember to follow general safety guidelines.

General Safety Guidelines:

- Drinking lots of water before, during, and after yoga to keep your body hydrated
- Be sure to breathe deeply and regularly as you stretch.
- If you practice yoga regularly, understand that your going to modify your routine as time goes on during your pregnancy.
- Listen to your body and do not push yourself over the limit.
- If you are feeling pain or discomfort, stop right away.

Yoga Exercise

In the first trimester, they recommend a yoga exercise called the half butterfly. It is an excellent yoga exercise to loosen hip and knee joints. 

This exercise can enable faster delivery.
1. Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the right leg and place the right foot as far up on the left thigh as possible. Place the right hand on top of the bent right knee.
2. Hold the toes of the right foot with the left hand.
3. While breathing in, gently move the right knee up towards the chest.
4. Breathing out, gently push the knee down and try to touch the floor. The trunk should not move. Movement of leg should be achieved by the exertion of the right arm.
5. Repeat with left leg.
6. Slowly practice about 10 up and down movements with each leg.

Full Butterfly Yoga Exercise

This yoga exercise helps relieve tension from inner thigh muscles and helps remove tiredness from legs.

1. Sit with legs outstretched. Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together, keeping the heels as close to the body as possible. Fully relax the inner thighs. Clasp the feet with both hands.
2. Gently bounce the knees up and down, using the elbows as levers to press the legs down. Do not use any force. Repeat up to 20-30 times. Straighten the legs and relax

This yoga exercise is good to practice in the fist trimester. It is good for toning the nerves and organs of pelvis and abdomen preparing them for pregnancy. 

Sit with legs stretched out in front of the body about one foot apart. Interlock fingers of both hands and hold the arms out straight in front of the chest.
1. Make large circular movements over feet, trying to take the hands over the toes on the forward swing and coming as far back as possible on the backward swing. Practice 10 times in each direction.

Second trimester tips

General safety guidelines:
- Be aware that your slowly expanding girth now affects your sense of balance
- Do not try to hold poses for a long time
- Remember to sink into yoga positions slowly and carefully to avoid injury.
- Take your time if you have
- Do not overdo it.
- You may want to avoid lying on your back around this time, too, to keep blood flowing properly throughout your body, although many women are comfortable in this position well into their pregnancies. 

Third trimester tips

You are probably feeling less graceful now that your belly is bigger, so perform standing poses with your heel to the wall, or use a chair for support to avoid losing your balance and risking injury to you or your baby. Props such as blocks and straps can also help you move through different poses with greater stability.

Best poses for pregnancy:

The Lord of the Dance Posture (Nataraja-asana) Step By Step

1. Stand with the feet together and the arms by your sides.
2. Inhale and bend the right leg backward grasping the left foot with your left hand while simultaneously extending the right arm straight out in front.
3. Continue raising the right arm upward until it is about 45 degrees from the floor while lifting the left leg as high as possible with the left arm.
4. Hold the posture while breathing gently through the nostrils. Keep your gaze fixed slightly above the horizon.
5. Remain in the nataraja-asana for about one minute then return slowly to a standing position.
6. Repeat by reversing directions 2-4. Perform the posture helps to strengthen your sense of balance and concentration. The arch formed by the back and stretched leg gently aligns of the spine restoring suppleness and easing strain caused by poor posture or long periods of sitting. It tones the muscles of the hips and legs as well as stimulates the chest muscles. 

Begin by holding the Cobbler or Tailor pose: This sitting pose helps open the pelvis. If you are very loose-jointed in your hips, make sure your "sit" bones are well-grounded on the mat or blanket (give each butt cheek a little pull to make sure you're in the right spot) and that you place pillows or rolled-up towels under your knees to avoid hyperextension of your hips.

Step By Step

1. Sit up straight against a wall with the soles of your feet touching each other.
2. Gently press your knees down and away from each other ¡X but do not force them apart. Stay in this position for as long as you are comfortable.

Pelvic tilt: This position helps relieve back pain, a common problem during pregnancy. 

Step By Step

1. Get down on your hands and knees, arms shoulder width apart and knees hip width apart, keeping your arms straight.
2. Tighten your abdominal muscles and tuck your buttocks under to arch your spine, breathing in.
3. Relax your back into a neutral position, and breathe out.
4. Repeat at your own pace. 

Squatting: Squat every day to relax and open the pelvis and strengthen the upper legs. As you start to feel heavier in pregnancy use props such as blocks or a pile of books to rest your bottom on. Focus on relaxing and letting your breath drop deeply into your belly. 

Step By Step

1. Stand facing the back of a chair with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Your toes should be pointed outward.
2. Squat toward the floor as though you were going to sit down a chair. Contract your abdominal muscles, lift your chest, and relax your shoulders. Most of your weight should be toward your heels. 

Sideline position: A good resting pose for the end of a practice. 

Step By Step

1. Lie on your left or right side with your head resting on an arm or a blanket.
2. Put a body pillow or blanket roll between your thighs to give your hips some support.
3. Let your instructor guide you through some breathing exercises before sitting up. 

Warrior I (virabhadrasana I)
Warrior I: strengthens the legs, opens the hips and chest, and stretches the arms and legs. Warrior I develop concentration, balance and grounded ness. This pose improves circulation and respiration and energizes the entire body.


Step by Step

1. Step forward with the right foot into a high lunge position, keeping the feet hip width apart and facing forward. Make sure the right knee is directly over the right ankle. If you need to, slide the feet further apart.

2. Bring the hands to the hips and square the hips and the shoulders to the front wall. Inhale the arms over the head in a H position with the palms facing each other, or bring the palms together crossing the thumbs, or interlace the fingers together Bring the hands to the hips and square the hips and the shoulders to the front wall. Point the index finger up. Drop the shoulders down and back pressing the chest forward. To go deeper, carefully arch back and look up towards the ceiling. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths. To release: bend the front knee and either step forward or step back (more difficult) into mountain on an inhalation. Repeat on the other side.

Warrior II (virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II: strengthens the lower body and arms, invigorates the body, and improves concentration.

Step By Step

1. Step the feet wide apart, with the arms out to the side. The feet should be under the wrists, facing forward, and parallel.
2. Press your weight into the feet, pull up the kneecaps and squeeze the thighs, tuck the tailbone, and feel the legs strong and solid, rooted into the floor.
3. Reach out through the fingertips, trying to touch the sidewalls. Relax the shoulders down and back, gently opening the chest towards the front of the room.
4. Inhale and press the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Look straight ahead with the chin parallel to the floor.
5. Inhale deeply into the belly and chest; exhale press into the feet, fingers and crown, feeling your body expanding out in 5 directions.
6. Keep breathing and hold for 4-8 breaths.
7. To release, bend one knee and step back into the mountain posture (Mountain pose is the foundation for all of the standing postures and improves posture, grounded ness, stability, and confidence).
8. From a standing position, bring the feet hip width apart, parallel. Lift up the toes, spread them wide, and place them back on the floor. Feel your weight evenly balanced through the bottom of each foot, not leaning forward or back.
9. Pull up the kneecaps, squeeze the thighs, and tuck the tailbone under. The legs are straight, but the knees are not locked back.
10. Inhale and lift out of the waist, pressing the crown of the head up towards the ceiling, feeling the spine long and straight.
11. Exhale and drop the shoulders down and back. Gently press the chest / sternum towards the front of the room.
12. Reach the fingers down towards the floor to lengthen the arms. Inhale the arms up, turning the palms shoulder height, bringing the arms into an H position.
13. Exhale relaxes the shoulders down from the ears while still reaching the crown and fingers up.
14. Breathe and hold for 4-8 breaths. To release: exhale the arms down to your sides or bring the palms together in front of your chest. Turn the right toes to the right wall and bend the right knee directly over the right ankle.
16. Turn the hips and the shoulders towards the front and reach out through the fingertips, reaching towards the sidewalls. Turn and look at the right middle finger.
17. Press into the feet, keeping the legs strong. Sink the hips down towards the floor, and reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine. Relax the shoulders down and back, pressing the chest forward.
18. Press into the feet, keeping the legs strong. Sink the hips down towards the floor, and reach the crown of the head up to lengthen the spine. Relax the shoulders down and back, pressing the chest forward.
19. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
20. To release: straighten the legs and turn the feet forward coming back into 5-pointed star.

Five Pointed Star Pose: (lengthens, opens, and energizes the whole body. This posture also realigns the spinal column and opens the chest, improving circulation and respiration.)

Trees pose (vrkshahsana)
The tree pose clarifies just how challenging it can be to stand on one leg.

- Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles, and spine
- Stretches the groins and inner thighs, chest and shoulders
- Improves sense of balance
- Relieves sciatica and reduces flat feet 

- Headache
- Insomnia
- Low blood pressure
- High blood pressure: Don't raise arms overhead


Step by Step

1. Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, and bend your right knee. Reach down with your right hand and clasp your right ankle.
2. Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh; if possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. The center of your pelvis should be directly over the left foot.
3. Rest your hands on the top rim of your pelvis. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position, with the top rim parallel to the floor.
4. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh and resist with the outer left leg. Press your hands together in Anjali Mudra (Anjali Mudra is when your palms are together. Your hands are usually centered over the heart. However, you can also raise the pressed hands to the front of your forehead or bring them slightly above and in front of the crown of your head).
5. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away.
6. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Step back to Tadasana with an exhalation and repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed. 

Modifications & Props
You can stand with your back braced against a wall if you feel unsteady in this pose. 

Stretch your arms straight up toward the ceiling, parallel to each other, palms facing, or touch the palms together forming an inverted V with the arms. 

These poses help strengthen your joints and improve your balance. Warrior poses can also ease backache and sciatica. 

Downward Facing Dog (adhomukha svanasana)

Step By Step

1. Hands and feet in line with one another, approximately 4 feet apart
2. Hands parallel and shoulder-width apart, with weight spread across the palms and through the fingers.
3. Lift your weight up, out of the wrist joints.
4. Feet parallel and hip-width apart, with heels reaching toward the floor
5. Legs fully extended
6. Arms fully extended with the insides of the elbows facing forward
7. Shoulder blades sliding toward the ribcage

Your yoga instructor may recommend variations on any of these classic poses.

Yoga precautions during pregnancy

General precautions:
You may want to skip any movements that require you to be in a lying down position (which decreases blood flow to the uterus) for longer than a few minutes, especially after the first trimester. 

Some women never experience "vena cava syndrome" ¡X dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea that result from pressure being put on the inferior vena cava vein ¡X and are comfortable lying down well into their pregnancies. 

If you have never done a head or shoulder stand before, skip these poses. "Pregnancy is not the time to start an inversion practice." Although many women who are used to these poses can continue to do them well into their second trimester? Use caution or avoid them all together during the third trimester. 

Skip positions that stretch the abdominal muscles too much, such as deep forward and back bends. You are more apt to tear and strain muscles now because pregnancy hormones, which allow the uterus to expand, also act on all connective tissue.

These eight stretches will enhance your flexibility, prevent your muscles from tightening, and make you look and feel great. Use them after a workout as a way to cool down, or just when you need to relax. Be sure to breathe deeply and regularly as you stretch.

Shoulder circles

These are movements may be done standing or seated.

Step By Step

1. Rotate your shoulders forward, up, back, and down in the largest circle you can make.
2. Reverse the direction.
3. Repeat 4 times in each direction. 

Arm stretch

Step By Step

1. Stand and interlace your fingers behind your lower back.
2. Pull your arms up as far as they can go toward the ceiling, and then lower them toward your buttocks.
3. Release and repeat 8 to 10 times.

Standing backstretch

Step By Step

1. Stand with your feet about a foot apart.
2. Bend your knees slightly while rolling your head and torso forward and down, one vertebrae at a time, toward the floor.
3. Return to a standing position by slowly rolling back up one vertebrae at a time and straightening your knees. (Keep your weight centered on both feet.)
4. Repeat 8 to 10 times.
As your pregnancy, progresses you will need to make adjustments for your growing belly. You may want to avoid this stretch when you get too big to bend over comfortably.

Waist twist

Step By Step

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.
2. Extend both of your arms toward your left side while looking over your right shoulder.
3. Repeat the motion while looking over your left shoulder.
4. Increase your speed so your arms swing from side to side. Do not get carried away, however. You may lose your balance if you swing too quickly.

Wall push-up and calf stretch


Step By Step

1. Stand about 2 feet from a wall with your arms extended forward in front of your shoulders.
2. Reach your hands to the wall and lean forward, bending your elbows as your body tilts.
3. Keep your heels on the floor to stretch your calf muscles. (Do not do this exercise in socks or slippery shoes; you want your feet to stay put.)
4. Push slowly away from the wall to straighten up. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Sitting back stretch

Step By Step

1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out parallel in front of you.
2. Slowly drop your head toward your knees and stretch your fingers along your legs as far as they will comfortably go. As your belly gets bigger, you will need to make adjustments.
3. Sit up slowly. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Thigh stretch

Step By Step

1. Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out parallel in front of you.
2. Cross your right ankle over your left knee.
3. Use your left hand to pull your right thigh toward the left, stretching the outside of the right leg.
4. Increase the twist by looking over your right shoulder. Hold for one minute.
5. Repeat 8 to 10 times. Switch sides. As your belly gets bigger, you will have to make adjustments. Do what feels comfortable. 

Leg stretch

1. Lie on your left side with your head on a pillow or folded towel.
2. Bend your left leg at the knee while keeping your right leg straight. Use your right hand on the floor as a brace.
3. Stretch your right leg as you lift it toward the ceiling, and then lower it to the floor.
4. Repeat 4 times, and then switch sides. 

Weight Training

If weight training is already part of your exercise routine, there is no reason to stop, although you will need to avoid using heavy weights and assuming certain positions. If you take the necessary precautions and have good technique, weight training is a great way to tone and strengthen your muscles.



The benefits of weight training during pregnancy:

- Weight training strengthens and tones your muscles
- Helps you build stamina, which you will need during labor and delivery. One good way to do that is to perform a set number of exercises using free weights and resistance training machines such as ones you will find in weight rooms and athletic clubs. However, you can also build strength by do some simple weight training exercises at home. 

Tips for the first trimester

It is a good idea to go over your exercise schedule with your doctor to make sure it is okay for you to continue at your regular pace while you are pregnant. 

Safety Guidelines:

You should use slow, controlled movements to lift weights to avoid injuring your joints that are loosened during pregnancy. Work with lighter weights than you normally do and to compensate for the lower weight, you can do more repetitions.

Avoid certain postures:
The Valsalva maneuver (forcefully exhaling without actually releasing air, which causes lower abdominal pressure similar to that of a bowel movement) Walking lunges, which could increase your risk of injury to connective tissue in the pelvic area.

Tips for the second and third trimesters

Beginning in the second trimester, you should avoid:

Lifting weights while standing. "Sit down because you have an increase in blood volume." "Blood can pool in your legs, leaving you feeling lightheaded and dizzy."  Avoid lying on a bench to lift weights or assuming any position that leaves your abdomen vulnerable to a falling weight. 

Suggested exercises:

Military press:

Step By Step

1. Sit up straight on the edge of a sturdy chair, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor
2. Separated about hip-width apart.
3. Hold a dumbbell (weighing between one and ten pounds) in each hand with palms facing inward
4. Lift above shoulder level
5. Then back down.
Remember to contract your abdominal muscles and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If you need more support, sit back on the chair seat. 

Seated row:

Step By Step

1. Using a resistance band (an elastic strap specially designed for exercise)
2. Sit erect on the floor
3. Legs extended in front of you
4. Knees slightly bent.
5. Wrap a resistance band around both your feet and hold one end in each hand.
6. Keep your elbows bent close to your sides with palms facing each other.
7. Pull the resistance toward your waist
8. Using the middle back muscles
9. Until your elbows are just behind you.
Do not lean forward. If you need to increase resistance, "choke up" on the band.


You can get your heart pumping by dancing to your favorite tunes in the comfort and privacy of your living room, but avoid break dancing or other dance movements that call for you to leap, jump, or twirl. If you sign up for a class, you can lose yourself in music, stay fit, and meet others.

How dancing benefits you during pregnancy:
Besides the thrill, you will feel moving through space, dancing is a great way to keep flexible while toning your muscles at the same time. You can get an aerobic workout from jazz or other fast-paced dance or stretch and maintain muscle tone when you hold positions in ballet.
For maximum benefit:
Dance for at least 20 minutes three times a week, whether it is in your living room or in class.

Tips for the first trimester


Dance as you normally would, but keep a few precautions in mind. Remember to warm up beforehand to prepare your joints and muscles for exercise, and helps build your heart rate up slowly. Skipping a warm-up could strain ligaments and joints, leading to injury. As a rule, your heart rate should not exceed 140 beats per minute (this number may vary depending on your level of fitness). Adjust the intensity of your dancing according to how you feel. A good rule of thumb: Slow down if you cannot comfortably carry on a conversation. 

Keep your workout low impact by leaving one foot on the floor at all times, substituting marching in place for jumps, or stepping side-to-side. Be aware of your body's limitations and listen to what your body is trying to tell you.


Tips for the second trimester

Because of your expanding belly, avoid movements that require you to lie on your stomach. This position is not only uncomfortable, but it puts too much pressure on your womb. Many experts recommend that pregnant women at this stage avoid lying on their backs. While some women do get dizzy in this position due to pressure from the uterus on the inferior vena cava vein, you may be comfortable lying down well into your pregnancy. 

Your center of gravity will also be shifting as your get bigger so pay extra attention to your balance. Avoid jumping, jarring motions, or quick changes in direction to prevent injuries to your ankles, knees, and ligaments.

Tips for the third trimester

Avoid movements that require you to lie on your back now. You are likely to feel the effects of "vena cava syndrome"; dizziness, shortness of breath. Lying down at this stage can diminish blood flow to your brain and to your baby. 

Jumps, lifts, dip, and fast spins are also off-limits now. 

Low-impact aerobics

One good thing about an aerobics class is that it is a consistent time slot when you know you will get some exercise. And if you sign up for a class specifically designed for pregnant women, you'll get to enjoy the camaraderie of others just like you, and can feel reassured that each movement has been deemed safe for you and the baby.

How low-impact aerobics benefits you during pregnancy:
Aerobic exercise strengthens your heart and lungs and helps maintain muscle tone. As long as you choose exercises that are low impact meaning no high kicks and leaps, and keep one foot on the ground at all times to minimize stress on your joints you should be able to continue your routine throughout most of your pregnancy. 

Although you could stay fit at home with the help of an exercise video, an aerobics class designed for expectant moms is your best bet. You will enjoy the company of other pregnant women, and the expertise of an instructor who understands how to keep you and your baby safe. Many community recreation centers offer prenatal exercise classes. If you are already signed up for a regular aerobics class, let your instructor know that you are pregnant; she can suggest ways to modify movements that may be unsafe or too strenuous for you. 

Kegel Exercises 

The muscles in your pelvis can become stronger, if you use the Kegel exercise. The kegel exercise is also referred to as pelvic floor exercise. By practicing the "kegel exercise" on a regular basis, will help develop the tone and flexibility of your pelvic floor muscles for delivery. It will help them return too normal after delivery. When doing the kegal exercise it is important to make sure that, you use right muscles. Do not squeeze other muscles at the same time. Be careful not to tighten your stomach, legs, or other muscles. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Just squeeze the pelvic muscle. Do not hold your breath. You should tighten the two major muscles that stretch across your pelvic floor. They are the "hammock" muscle and the "triangle" muscle. 

Here are three methods to check for the correct muscles.

1. one way of locating the right group of muscles is to sit down on the toilet and start to urinate. Try to stop the flow of the urine halfway through by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat this several times until you become familiar with contracting the right group of muscles. Make sure not to contract your abdominal, thigh or buttock muscles.

2. Imagine that you are trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a "pulling" feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises.

3. Lie down and put your finger inside your vagina. Squeeze as if you were trying to stop urine from coming out. If you feel tightness on your finger, you are squeezing the right pelvic muscle.

You can repeat the exercise, but do not do too much. Find a quiet, comfortable spot to practice the exercise, so you can concentrate and do the exercise correctly.

How to do the exercise:

1. Lie on the floor.

2. Pull in the pelvic muscles and slowly count from one to 10. Then slowly release the muscles 3 seconds.

3. Work up to 10 to 15 repeats each time you exercise.

Practice these exercises several times a day until you are doing several sets of 10.

You can do this exercise while lying on the floor, sitting at a desk, or standing in the kitchen. If you practice this exercise using all three positions will make your muscles strongest. Do your pelvic exercises at least three times a day. Always remember, to be patient, results do not come immediately. It takes time and effort. It is just 5 minutes, three times a day. In a few weeks, you should notice an improvement.


Tips for the first trimester


Wear layered, breathable clothing, so you can peel off items as you work harder. Monitor your heart rate (do not exceed more than 140 beats per minute). An easy way to keep track: If you are huffing and puffing too much to talk while you move, you are exercising too intensely. See more exercise safety guidelines.


Tips for the second trimester


Drink lots of water before, during, and after working out. If you do not, you could get dehydrated, which can cause muscle cramps and premature contractions. Keep a bottle of water close by during class. You should drink at least six to eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid per day (48 to 64 fluid ounces) plus one 8-ounce glass for each hour of light activity (more if you are breaking a sweat). If hot, humid weather is making you sweat excessively, grab an electrolyte replacement drink.


Remember that it may be harder to keep your balance as your belly expands. Use caution as you move across the floor. You may want to try a prenatal water aerobics class around now if one is offered in your community. You get many of the same benefits of land aerobics; a workout for your heart and body and the camaraderie of other expectant mother's without the stress on your joints.

Tips for the third trimester

Your pregnant belly is probably hampering some of your movements. If it feels too tricky or uncomfortable to bend or reach, just march in place. It will keep your heart rate up as you take it easy. It is also best to avoid bending over, spinning, or turning, movements that may make you dizzy and cause you to lose your balance. Learn how to spot other signs you may be overdoing it.


Web Site Stacey Chillemi: Epilepsy and Pregnancy

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