Pregnancy is one of the most emotional experiences in a woman’s life, and it culminates in the miracle of birth. After months of preparation and anticipation, a mother gets to hold her little bundle of joy and look into the eyes that she helped create for the first time. While all of that is true and beautiful, the act of giving birth is arduous, strenuous, and excruciatingly painful. Birth is perhaps the most physically taxing event in any woman’s life. Since athletes train hard for marathons, can a mother train hard for childbirth?

Changing the game

Exercise is a chore for some people and a lifestyle for others. For expecting mothers who were used to a vigorous training regimen, there used to be a lack of pregnancy fitness options that were challenging enough. For good reasons, pregnancy workouts are very different than regular workouts. Since a mother is carrying a life inside of her uterus, there are certain exercises that have been deemed to be too dangerous. Nevertheless, pregnant women are still capable of reaching their fitness goals.

Moms around the world have complained about feeling, well, babied by the fitness industry. Of course, they do not want to put their babies at risk, but they do not want to be treated as if they are incapable of working out or banished to a sedentary lifestyle until the baby is born. The fitness industry has responded.

A gym for pregnant women

Prenatal Fitness Concept is dedicated to pregnant women who still want to feel the burn of a great workout. The gym is located in New York, New York. All of the clients are either pregnant or new mothers and every single workout is dedicated to moms who want to sweat. All of the trainers at the gym are specially trained to work with pregnant women, and group classes have very low attendance limits so that trainers are able to see if any of the expectant mothers are in distress.

At the gym, all classes include the trademarked Pump and Kegel exercises. These exercises help to strengthen to pelvis, core, and abdomen. Many of the worst side effects of pregnancy as well as injuries and complication that happen during birth come from a pelvic floor that is too weak for the excess weight and strain. A mother who works on building the muscles in this sensitive area throughout the course of the pregnancy can protect herself from these painful injuries.

In addition to providing a special place for mothers to be, this gym also has special post-partum workout classes that focus on helping the body recovery and helping new moms ease back into their pre-baby fitness goals.

Moms who push the limits

Sydney Leroux Dwyer is a professional soccer player who currently plays for Orlando Pride of the NWSL. A few weeks into the start of preseason, she learned she was pregnant with her second child. Rather than sitting out the season, she continued to train. When she received a flood of honest questions and sarcastic hate comments on Twitter, Leroux Dwyer tweeted, “I just do non-contact stuff. Ball work. Getting touches in. I don’t put myself in situations where the ball can ricochet or I can get hit. No high intensity running and I listen to my OB (who knows more than people on Twitter telling me what I shouldn’t be doing with MY body”

Every year, it seems that one fitness model or another makes headlines for being pregnant with a six-pack. Many of these women are healthy lifestyle influencers. They make a living from sharing their weight goals, so it only makes sense that they take pictures of their body during pregnancy as well. Although their followers understand that they have not done anything extreme to maintain the six-pack they had already earned before becoming pregnant, naysayers always flood their timelines with comments suggesting that their fitness choices could somehow harm their babies. Time and again, these healthy women give birth to healthy babies.

Sarah Stage is a fitness model who has dealt with these hurtful comments during not one but two pregnancies. She has always shared ways that she maintains her fitness routine while keeping both herself and her children healthy. For example, she always removes crunches from her workouts once she reaches the third trimester.

How much should pregnant women exercise?

Exercising during pregnancy is not dangerous, and it is recommended by medical professionals. According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women thrive with at least thirty minutes of daily moderate exercise. Exercise during pregnancy is only unsafe if it is a dramatic increase from what the mother was used to before pregnancy. Contact sports, exercises that require lying on the back, and anything with a risk of falling from a height should be avoided because they present a high risk to the safety of mother and baby. The phrase “no pain, no gain” does not apply to pregnant women. Expecting mothers should be especially sensitive when the body gives signs than an exercise is too strenuous.

As with all other areas of health, each person is different. While one mother may be able to walk five miles during pregnancy, another mother could be unsafe walking ten steps due to other health issues. OB/GYNs and certified trainers who specialize in pregnancy fitness are great resources to consult before embarking in any kind of intense training styles during pregnancy. They can also give advice about the types of exercises that are best in each pregnancy.