The short answer is Yes it is safe but there are many things you need to take into consideration. As a general rule, women can stick to their normal workout program during the first trimester. However exercise levels should not exceed pre-pregnancy levels. Changes that take place in a woman's body during pregnancy can put women at a higher risk of some injuries:
Joint Risks: joints will tend to loosen and a woman's centre of gravity will change significantly as the pregnancy progresses which could make her at a higher risk of joint injuries such as sprained ankles or knees. The best thing to do is make sure that your workouts are supervised by an experienced trainer who can provide modifications if not alternative exercises tailored to suit the individual.
Dehydration: You will need to be drinking more water as a result of being pregnant anyway but mixed with a steady workout schedule you will have to stay on top of it. Dehydration during pregnancy can cause preterm uterine contractions and in worst cases preterm labor. 8-9 cups of water per day is recommended during pregnancy however more should be consumed during higher intensity and longer duration workouts.
Direct Trauma: lifting heavy weights at a fast pace can increase the risk of direct abdominal trauma, falling or injury. We suggest that you always use proper form and have an experienced trainer monitor your technique and intensity.
Decrease blood flow to the uterus: prolonged or strenuous workouts could potentially lead to a decrease in blood flow to the uterus. It may be wise to keep your workouts to a shorter time. HIIT workouts are a great alternative.
Intra-abdominal pressure: if you find yourself straining to lift a heavy object it can cause an increase in pressure around the abdominals. The danger with this is that you can rupture the membranes surrounding the uterus or cause uterine contractions.
It is important to know when to STOP!
If you experience dizziness, back or abdominal pain, excessive shortness of breath or vaginal bleeding you should stop right away and check with your doctor before continuing.
You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise regime whilst pregnant. Especially for a first pregnancy. Most gyms will require an exercise clearance from your doctor before prescribing any new exercise regime.
Author, Shane Mackenzie
Managing Director | Hybrid Trainer | The Hybrid Zone