First Trimester Exercises

From Dr Christine Fraser at The Health Creation Centre

The first trimester is often when you feel your worst. You’ve just found out that you have a new family member on the way, you’ve got morning sickness, taste aversion and your boobs hurt. I’m sure exercising is the last thing on your mind.

But it shouldn’t be like this. Exercise during any stage of pregnancy is beneficial. I always bang on about this but it can help to improve you physical and mental wellbeing, manage a healthy weight during and after the pregnancy, reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and associated issues, stimulates the growth of you babies nervous system and brain and can even make for an easier delivery.

So what to do! Heres 5 exercises to keep you feeling fabulous during your first trimester.

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  1. Keep on walking!

Walking is a fantastic way to keep your lumbar spine (low back) and pelvis mobile and strong. It can also be a great way to help improve your morning sickness symptoms and can give you a little extra energy when your feeling flat. It’s always important to ‘layer up’ so that you can always take another layer off – staying cool, avoiding spikes in your heart rate and keep your fluids up!

  1. Yoga, light stretches and breathe easy

Stretching your hamstrings and lumbar spine early on is important as they tend to become quite tight as your belly grows and your centre of gravity changes.

For your hamstrings, lie on you back (if you can still do it) and hook a resistance band or even a wound up towel over your foot. With a relaxed knee pull you foot toward your head. You should feel a ‘nice’ stretch in the back of your thigh and NOT in the back of your knee. Hold for 30sec, breathe and do both sides twice.

For the low back, flexion and extension are your key movements. Take a set on a backless chair or foot rest. To bend forward into flexion, set up as though you are going to do a dive and gently follow this motion. Once you have found a good stretching zone, hold for 30secs, gently come up and then repeat. Caution with this if you are feeling particularly queazy.

For those lumbar extensions, pop your hands on your hips, gently arch your back by leaning back. Now this is quite a subtle move, so use those hands to monitor the pelvis and only go as far as comfy. Once again breathe and hold for 30sec. Then repeat.

  1. Its not how low you go! To-chair squats

It’s not recommended that you complete full squats with turned out feet. For obvious reasons this will increase the tension within the pelvic floor and in this cautious time is a no-no. A to-chair squat is simple and as it suggests. Sit down and stand up without using your hands. Have them out the front as a counter-balance and thinks about gently squeezing your butt and thighs to help you up. Aim to do this 12-15 times throughout your day. Listen to your body with this one – if your body is saying no, you should too.

  1. Posture perfection!

This one is a preparation one. As your breast tissue grows, your belly grows and when your start to feed, different stresses are placed on the thoracic spine (mid-back). Its essentially whipped to the moon and back (no pun intended)!

To help out your thoracics think about the corners of your shoulder blades. If you squeeze these down and in toward your spine. Do this every hour on the hour and it will become habit. If you need something a bit less subtle, bent over rows will do the trick. Fill up a 1L drink bottle – this is about 1kg. Feel free to use a hand weight if you have one. Half kneel on the side of a chair or couch. On your other side the foot will be on the ground and your hand holding your weight. With your elbow pointing to the ceiling pull the weight up to your side then release. Control is everything and complete 10 each side, twice.


  1. Upper body powerhouse

Babies grow and get heavy! So working on this arms is a must. With your 1L bottle or hand weights you can do bicep curls. Stand up with your feet a hips distance apart and palms facing forward. Bring the weight to your shoulder by bending bending your elbow. Keep your arms by your side and aim to 10 each arm (you can do them at the same time or each arm separately – whatever takes your fancy)

It’s important to stay cool and keep your heart rate steady. High impact exercise may increase your chance of spontaneous miss-carriage. ALWAYS drink plenty of water, wear light breathable clothes and don’t over do it. Now is not the time to become an elite athlete – however being a mum may be considered an endurance race!

The what not to do’s are not rocket science. If you weren’t doing something beforehand, especially in the 1st trimester of your pregnancy, it’s not the time to try contact sports, high altitude climbs, skiing, trampoline jumping and scuba diving. If you are already playing contact or semi-contact sports like netball, it is at your desecration as to when you stop playing but caution should always be exercised. You should also avoid horse riding – again, use your judgement on this if you are an experienced rider and only ride a horse you know well. During this first part of your pregnancy you should still be able to lie on your back, but if you’re feeling ill, dizzy or uncomfortable, this should be avoided.


Have fun and we look forward to bringing you ‘second is the best – 7 exercises to keep you powering through the second trimester’. Feel free to call the health creation centre if you have any questions or queries or even if your after something a bit more tailored to you! Happy exercising!

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