How to Safely Exercise in the Third Trimester
What movement is safe in the third trimester?
By the third trimester you are definitely on low impact exercise; (think walking rather than running and jumping). Not only is it physically difficult, but places increased stress on your already loaded pelvic floor, which lengthens up to 2.5 times over the course of your pregnancy! Your energy levels may start to decrease, and so listening to your body is really important, as you make space for rest as well as continuing to stay active. You may be dizzy at times, so take your time changing positions, as postural hypotension is common throughout pregnancy and can be worse later pregnancy, as venous return is often poorer (think swollen puffy ankles).
Much like the second trimester, you will be modifying some positions and exercises to accommodate the changing nature of your body/ bump. It’s important to be aware of your balance, and remove anything that may be too challenging, given your altered centre of gravity. Yoga/ Pilates positions will need to take a wider stance to accommodate room for your bump with any forward bending positions, and avoid abdominal twisting or compression of your belly. If you haven’t already been performing Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises, now is a good time to set good habits for postpartum. I believe the pelvic floor needs to be functional, and so you want to get into the habit of pre-activating whenever you are under load. Moving from sitting to standing is a key action to master pre-empting with the pelvic floor and NOT holding your breath- it is easier to engage your pelvic floor with the exhale breath, so you could coordinate this breath pattern with sit to stand multiple times a day. If you must lift something heavy, cough, sneeze, push a heavy pram up a hill- these are all great times to get into the habit of protecting your pelvic floor with strengthening exercises.
Training should start to give way to “preparation for birth” – staying fit and active but with a focus on positive movement and mental preparation for building faith that your body is designed to make and deliver babies.