From 28 weeks onwards you are at the pinnacle of pregnancy. You’re an absolute queen and your body needs you now more than ever.
Training during your third trimester can assist with labor, reduce pain, improve posture and prepare your body for recovery after birth. This is never more important than during this trimester. The temptation is to do less as your body gets more fatigued and heavy. However, training within the third trimester can radically improve the final part of your pregnancy.
Within this article, I will explain the how’s, why’s, and do’s/dont’s of training in your third trimester.
** Important note: Before beginning any exercise whilst pregnant consult with your Dr and/or midwife. You must stop exercising and seek medical attention if any of the following occur; bleeding, painful contractions/cramps, difficulty breathing, dizziness, headache, chest pain, calf pain/swelling.
Training during your Third Trimester
It’s long-established and recommended that moderate activity during exercise, for 150 minutes per week, is beneficial for mother and baby. Where moderate activity includes such activities as walking, swimming, yoga, etc where the heart rate remains low enough to hold a conversation.
A recent systemic review of papers to include over 32000 subjects looked at the effects of vigorous exercise. This type of exercise is comparable to having the heart rate higher, at 70-90%, where short sentences rather than whole conversations can be spoken during activity. It was found that there was no significant increased risk to the mother or child for doing such activity. And a small but significant increase in length of gestational age before delivery and a small but significantly reduced risk of prematurity.
Overall the findings from the analysis indicate that anything up to vigorous exercise completed into the third trimester appears to be safe for most healthy pregnancies.
Anecdotally, from my own experience with clients, should vigorous or any type of exercise “fill up your cup” it is hugely beneficial.
Training Considerations for Your Third Trimester
Movement in this trimester is about you feeling good, postural alignment, and preparing the body to soften and open for the upcoming birth.
Feeling Good Training in your Third Trimester
During this trimester you may feel a combination of what you felt in your first [ Pregnancy Training Considerations for 1st Trimester – Trainerize.me] and second [ Pregnancy Training for the Second Trimester – Trainerize.me ] trimesters. You may feel nauseous, fatigued, or full of energy or aches and pains. No pregnancy is the same so there are no hard and set rules.
There are six simple ways to adjust your training to remain comfortable during this trimester:
- Let your body be your guide. If you’re in pain during or after your session change what you’re doing, if you feel great continue!
- Include additional rest time both between working sets and workout days during this trimester.
- If you’re experiencing pelvic girdle pain (pain anywhere in and around your pelvis, including SPD) remove or alter unilateral moves such as lunges, split squats, or step-ups.
- Take any walking on more stable surfaces to avoid slips or trips and remove any chance of aggravation from uneven or slippery surfaces.
- Incorporate some birth preparation movements such as diaphragmatic breathing and birth positioning to your warm up and cool down.
- Take and use many layers to remain at a comfortable temperature during your workout.
Postural Alignment in your Third Trimester
By this point in pregnancy, I’m sure you’re feeling the effects of bump upon your posture. As described in a previous post here [Pregnancy Training for the Second Trimester – Trainerize.me] the weight of the baby pulls the shoulders forward and tilts the hips forward.
Whilst these changes are essential to provide space for your baby to grow, understanding and strengthening the opposing muscles now will great improve your comfort, baby positioning (see below), and your return to great posture after delivery.
Some great exercises for your posture alongside your breath work are;
- Kneeling Hip Thrust with Banded No Money
- Single Arm Row
- Banded Reverse Fly
- Kneeling Single Arm Pulldown
Softening and Opening for Birth in your Third Trimester
Gaining and maintaining body balance throughout all, but especially your third trimester, isn’t necessary but rather optimal.
Uneven postures used over time, falls, sports, and old injuries can tilt and tighten uterine or cervical ligaments on one side. This results in a twist of the uterus that can be non-beneficial to baby’s position and the birth.
Spinning Babies [3 Principles of Spinning Babies – Prepare for Easier Birth – Spinning Babies] is a great resource to find out more.
During the third trimester, as long as feel good, anything goes (less contact sports or other dangerous activities such as scuba diving, rock climbing, etc).
The final trimester can give you many thoughts, anxieties, and discomforts. Movement can help to alleviate these symptoms, especially if you’re used to regular activity. Building these habits now will not only improve your view of pregnancy but your birth outcomes and recovery afterwards. If you’re unsure of how best to exercise safely during your pregnancy please get in touch via messaging with me.
Artal, R. (2003). Guidelines of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for exercise during pregnancy and the postpartum period. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 37(1), 6–12. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsm.37.1.6
Exercise During Pregnancy. ACOG. (2019). https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-during-pregnancy.
Sally K Hinman, Kirsty B Smith, David m Quillen, M. Seth Smith (2015). Exercise in Pregnancy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4622376/
Spinning Babies. Psoas Muscle. Psoas Muscle Release in Pregnancy – Relieve Pain – Spinning Babies
Spinning Babies. The Three Principles Pregnancy. https://www.spinningbabies.com/pregnancy-birth/the-three-principles-in-pregnancy/
Exercise examples – Exercise Library
Kassia Beetham, Courtney Giles, Michael Noelle, Vicki Clifton, Jacqueline Jones, Geraldine Naughton (2019). the Effects of Vigorous Intensity Execise in The Third Trimester of Pregnancy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. https://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-019-2441-1