With all the information available, it can be overwhelming and difficult to know whats legitimate and what isn't when it comes to exercising during pregnancy. As a certified prenatal yoga teacher and a mother of three, I am hyperaware of exercise safety while pregnant. I stayed within safety guidelines in my first pregnancy but I was defiantly quite liberal, still doing as much as safely possible. Round two, pregnant with twins, I became much more conservative though I still pushed the limits with what was safe for a twin pregnancy. Are you sensing a theme? I like to physically push the boundaries. That being said, take it from a woman who did her last headstand at almost 37 weeks pregnant with twins, just days before delivering them.... if I say something isn't safe, IT'S NOT SAFE, don't do it.
Number one rule, above all else, even if the "guidelines" and your doctor both say something is safe, if it hurts or doesn't feel good, DON'T DO IT.
Each trimester will bring it's own unique challenges that may worsen, change or even subside as pregnancy progresses. In some ways the first trimester is the most delicate despite there being very minimal if any visible changes to the mother's body.
In traditional Ashtanga yoga, all asana (the physical practice/poses of yoga) is to be completely avoided in the first trimester. This is because the fetus needs that time to securely lodge itself in the uterus without any bouncing or moving about and all the mother's energy should be going towards developing a secure, nourishing womb as well as growing the baby's major body parts and organs. If that sounds good to you then I 100% respect that choice to abstain from yoga and other exercise during the first trimester. I personally believe that a complete avoidance is unnecessary for most women but the extreme fatigue that comes in the first trimester should be respected and if a woman doesn't feel up for exercising, she shouldn't push herself to do much.
First Trimester (Conception through 12 weeks):
Most exercises and movements are still totally OK for a mother to preform in the first trimester. The first obvious thing that almost all mothers will recognize and discontinue is laying on the stomach. Once she can feel a certain fullness of the enlarging uterus as it expands and moves up out of the pelvis (normally around week 12 but it can be earlier or later), she should stop preforming any activity that puts pressure on the abdomen.
Less obvious things that should be avoided are:
Second trimester (13-28 weeks):
The second trimester is normally when most mom's feel their best during pregnancy though for me this was only true in my twin pregnancy and I actually felt my best in the third trimester with my first baby. The energy that is drained in the first trimester returns as does the appetite and most women start to show a little. With that growing baby bump, mothers should be ware that her posture will start to subtly shift and there will be changes to her ability to balance. Blood vessels dilate and cause changes to to her blood pressure which can lead to light headedness or becoming dizzy when she stands too quickly.
Changes to her exercise routine include:
Third Trimester (28 weeks- Birth):
The third trimester is when exercise modifications become the most personalized to accommodate the unique needs of the mother. All of the guidelines from the previous trimesters should continue being followed and she should be paying extra close attention to the individual needs of her body and even feedback from baby!
Special considerations for the last trimester:
These guidelines are geared towards healthy, previously active mothers who are doing yoga and other bodyweight exercises during her pregnancy. Again, if anything feels "off" or hurts, please don't continue doing that exercise. Pregnancy is not the time to be pushing through the pain (except in labor!!!).
I was certified as a prenatal yoga teacher by Om Births, a prenatal yoga studio in the Boston area. They have hands down the best prenatal yoga and if you live in that area and are a pregnant mama, I highly recommend you attend some classes there. I am very knowledgeable about fitness and pregnancy, I have experienced two very healthy pregnancies and followed these guidelines but you should ALWAYS communicate with your doctor about the exercises you are doing during pregnancy.
I wish you all healthy, joyful pregnancies! It is an absolutely beautiful, magical time; not without it's aches and pains and stress but it is special none-the -less.