Teaching with Confidence: Precautions and Contraindications to Exercise During Pregnancy-Part 2 of 3

Teaching with Confidence: Precautions and Contraindications to Exercise During Pregnancy-Part 2 of 3

As instructors, we spend more time with our clients then probably their best friends or family members.

Our job is to nurture those relationships on a professional level, helping our clients to feel comfortable enough to freely and openly move their bodies to transformative places.

You are sharing in the most amazing time of their lives, their pregnancy, and they are

trusting you with that time.

As a pre and postnatal fitness professional, you should have a basic understanding of the precautions and contraindications (when it is absolute to not exercise).

I understand this may instill some uncertainty or insecurity in working with pregnant women,

but I can assure you,

as long as you have awareness and, most importantly, an open line of communication and understanding with your clients,

you will be an amazing instructor!

Always make sure your client has cleared exercise with her doctor.

In addition to communicating with your clients, it is recommended that you have some line of communication with your client’s doctor, health care provider, or midwife.

Dr. Clapp, the author of Exercising Through Your Pregnancy, recommends an individualized team approach among health care providers, fitness instructors, and the pregnant woman.

Below you will find the basic guidelines to exercise and pregnancy, as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the ACOG recommends. Read more about the ACOG.

 I have added to the list with additional information written in purple

You can see and print the entire document at:


What should I be aware of when exercising during pregnancy?

The changes in your body can make certain positions and activities risky for you and your baby. While exercising, try to avoid activities that call for jumping, jarring motions, or quick changes in direction that may strain your joints and cause injury.

There are some risks from becoming overheated during pregnancy. This may cause loss of fluids and lead to dehydration and problems during pregnancy.

When you exercise, follow these general guidelines for a safe and healthy exercise program:

  • After the first trimester of pregnancy, avoid doing any exercises on your back.

Take precaution toward the end of the 2nd trimester. This is a general rule due to the possibility of cutting off circulation of the vena cava, an artery that runs to the woman’s heart, due to the weight of the uterus. There will be symptoms like feeling short of breath and dizziness. Every woman is different. Some women are fine on their backs well into the 3rd trimester; others become uncomfortable much earlier.

To modify exercises on the back, keep in mind that the goal is to get the uterus (pregnant belly) bellow the heart. You can do this a few different ways.

On the reformer, use an upside-down jump board, or a slightly deflated big ball (see pics)

On the floor or trapeze table, use a big ball (see pic)

  • If it has been some time since you have exercised, start slowly. Begin with as little as 5 minutes of exercise a day and add 5 minutes each week until you can stay active for 30 minutes a day

In this case, begin pre-Pilates exercises such as Lateral Thoracic Breathing, Pelvic Floor Exercises, and Posture exercises. You should also begin to educate your client on what to expect during her pregnancy, and her sessions with you.

  • Avoid brisk exercise in hot, humid weather or when you have a fever.

I always have a fan available in my studio to ensure my pregnant clients to do become overheated. 

  • Wear comfortable clothing that will help you to remain cool.

One of the many comforts of Pilates-wearing cool, comfortable clothing, and getting work without shoes!

  • Wear a bra that fits well and gives lots of support to help protect your breasts.

    Another benefit of Pilates-the extra weight of the breasts should not hinder exercises.

  • Drink plenty of water to help keep you from overheating and dehydrating.

Make sure to remind your client to take a water break every 15 minutes. I set a timer so that I don’t forget to do this.

  • Make sure you consume the daily extra calories you need during pregnancy.

Unless you have a background in nutrition, steer clear of giving too much nutrition information. Find a good nutritionist in your area and develop a working relationship with them. You could then refer your clients to them, and possibly work out an affiliate deal.

What are the warning signs that my client should stop exercising?

Stop exercising and call your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Increased shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Uterine contractions
  • Decreased fetal movement
  • Fluid leaking from the vaginapregnant woman pilates exercise fitball

The most important thing to remember is to keep the lines of communication open with your client.

Ask how she is feeling.

Nothing you do should hurt her. Remember, we are going for moderation.

If you haven’t read the first part of this 3 part series, click here to learn about the specifics of each trimester

The 3rd part of this series, I will talk about what you need to know when designing an exercise routine for athletes.

Thank you for hanging out with me! Awesome that you have taken the time to educate yourself!

I want to hear from you!

Let me know if you have found this helpful. Please fill in the contact form below,

or e-mail me directly at alisonb.marsh@yourpregnantcore.com

Happy Hundreds!

Alison Marsh

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