Prenatal Workouts: Part 1

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on April 27, 2014

I always wanted to be one of those pregnant women who soared through the first trimester, completing the usual workout routine like it was no big deal. Well, that couldn’t have been further from my own experience! Once the nausea and fatigue hit between 6-14 weeks, I couldn’t even fathom working out. I did a bit of hiking while we were on our trip (week 7), but it left me feeling exhausted and run down (and wouldn’t you know it I got sick after the trip).

I knew I had to listen to my body during the first trimester and focus on getting enough rest during a busy few months. Everyone said I’d get my energy back for the second trimester and while I had my doubts, I sure hoped I did. Lo and behold, around week 14 or so, I started to notice a shift in my energy levels and the nausea started to dissipate too. It was finally time to dig out the prenatal DVD that I ordered and put it to some good use! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to workout.

After researching a lot of prenatal DVD’s on Amazon, I decided to buy the highly rated 10 Minute Solutions Prenatal Pilates DVD:


After ordering the DVD, I discovered it’s also available on You Tube! I am happy to support her though. I enjoy this DVD because it’s broken down into quick 10-minute segments. I don’t think I’ve ever said to myself, “I can’t do 10 minutes!” unless we’re talking about the first trimester, that is. The instructor, Lizbeth Garcia is 36 weeks pregnant in the video and she looks so healthy and strong! She’s definitely inspiring me to keep up with workouts all pregnancy long. My two favourite segments are the Standing Pilates and the Pilates for buns & thighs. Boy, was I sore the first couple times I did the workouts. I should also note that I use 5 pound weights instead of the suggested 2-3 pound weights.

Lately, I’ve settled into a consistent morning workout routine:

  • Standing Pilates segment (10 minutes) ~5x per week
  • Pilates for buns & thighs (10 minutes) ~5x per week
  • “Madonna Arms” workout on Youtube (10 minutes) 3x per week  <– it’s a total love/hate
  • Walking outdoors – now that the weather is slowly improving, I’m trying to get out trail walking with Eric when we can!


So this is my prenatal routine at the moment, but I can see myself mixing it up soon. Keep in mind that this is what works for me right now and I always recommend consulting your doctor before beginning a new routine! My goal throughout pregnancy is to feel strong & healthy. I’m definitely building muscle and feeling so much stronger over the past month. I’m sure this routine will change as the months go on. I wouldn’t mind finding a few more prenatal workouts online or in DVD format to add to the mix! If you guys have any suggestions, leave them below. :)

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Keri April 27, 2014 at 6:34 pm

I wrote about my favorite pregnancy workouts here:
But walking was what I did the most of, especially at the end. Glad you are feeling better!


mish April 27, 2014 at 11:31 pm

I did ‘knocked up fitness’ for a bit. It wasn’t strenous, but it was good. But to be honest, the thing which I have found the best is walking. Even if it’s 30 minutes a couple times a week, it’s the one thing that I could keep doing, esp know that I’m 35 weeks. Just keep listening to your body and it will work well. There’s also some Barre 3 online workouts, I know that Jenna does them, but I haven’t. maybe look into a pregnancy yoga class in town (it feels like a treat to go) or a swimming class. I did water aerobics for a bit.


Angela (Oh She Glows) April 28, 2014 at 10:32 am

I agree with you about walking! It just feels so good, especially this time of the year. I’m definitely going to check out some classes now that we’re getting settled in the house. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy! You’re in the homestretch now. :)


Julie Greene April 29, 2014 at 8:22 am

One of the pregnancy workout DVD’s I purchased had a segment at the end where you do arm-circles for 3 minutes. It sounds so easy, but the instructor said it was practice for getting mentally through the labor pains. You have to concentrate on keeping your arms up and “push through” the pain. It did kind of help, but in the end I agree, walking works! Even if it is only a couple blocks by the end of your pregnancy.
Congrats, by the way!! You’ll be an amazing mother. Just don’t forget to take time for you. It’s really easy to get lost in the shuffle of caring for everyone (and everything, ie blog) else!


Beth April 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm

I’ve managed to keep running during my first trimester, though my distance and pace have both decreased quite a bit. I bet you’re in pretty great shape, so if you felt up to it and your doctor gave you the OK, it should be fine. I had a friend who ran all the way through her pregnancy. She was hardcore.

I’ll have to look for that Pilates workout. Looks like fun!


Shellon April 30, 2014 at 12:07 pm

I had a very hard pregnancy and the fatigue, nausea and dizziness never went away so I was pretty much locked to my couch. But water aerobics was one thing my body could tolerate. My instructor was super understanding too and let me just doing floating laps in the deep end on particularly bad days. I lucked out and found a class where the pool was nearly bath water temp. Even though I was sedentary pretty much the rest of the time my two sessions a week in the water where I could move my body anyway I wanted did wonders for my physical and mental health.


Susan May 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm

I’ve had four babies and by far my easiest pregnancy included swimming. I was able to do lap swim to the very end and it felt so good to work my muscles, heart and lungs without the pressure on my joints! I also had the same pilates dvd :) Listen to your body and all should be well! Good Luck!


Catherine @ foodiecology May 2, 2014 at 9:04 am

I’ve been doing that same DVD (had no clue it was on YouTube) and I love it. I think those are my favorite 2 series, too!
I might have to check out that Madonna arm workout, as I really want to focus on muscle tone throughout my pregnancy.
Another DVD I recommend is Suzanne Bowen’s prenatal barre workout. It, too, is broken down into short segments, so you can easily customize it. I can’t decide if it or Garcia’s is my favorite!
Like you, I did NOT feel like working out at all during most of the first trimester; no nausea, but the fatigue was KILLER. I did continue my 20-30 minute lunchtime walks (which I still do) and I ran a couple 5Ks (10 weeks and 12 weeks, plus an 8k at 13, though the last 2 races included a good bit of walking), but I think I’m going to take a break from running (apart from the elliptical a couple times a week) and try lower impact cardio like swimming. Plus, my hospital offers free membership at their gym during pregnancy (& 3 months after) so I’ve started their yoga classes (I did Bikram regularly for almost a year before finding out I was pregnant and decided taking a break was better for me since there are so few genuine medical studies on its safety) and might try their barre class, too.
Like you, I imagined if be a super pregnant woman, but it didn’t happen at first and I still (at almost 17 weeks) have days I won’t leave the couch, but with your healthy, vegan diet and overall good health, I think you’ll be fine.
Glad to hear you’re feeling better, and I’m so glad I get to travel on one if my favorite blogger’s journey along with my own. :-)


Lyne May 2, 2014 at 9:49 am

I really enjoyed Joy Southworth’s DVD Body by Trimester and Tracy Anderson’s The Pregnancy Projet. I also walked every single day. Exercise not only helped me stay strong and focused through my long labor but my body bounce back very quickly to it’s pre-pregnancy shape.


LN May 3, 2014 at 12:08 am

I used the same pilates dvd while pregnant and really enjoyed it. I would also recommend Summer Sanders prenatal workout and mindful mamas yoga dvd (, fellow canadian teacher, she is amazing!). I had nausea and vomiting throughout most of my pregnancy and couldnt even fathom the idea of veggies so good for you for keeping that up! All the best !


k May 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

Yoga glo is a great website that you subscribe to for access to tons of yoga classes. They have a great selection of prenatal classes. I lived the o es by Stephanie Snyder!


Elena Perez May 4, 2014 at 10:24 am

Hi Angela,
I am 21 weeks of pregnancy right now. Recently I’ve ordered DVD from Amazon – Summer Sanders’ Prenatal Workout (2009)
It’s good, I like it. You will need to have Resistance Band Exercise Cord to be able to do this work out fully.


Aliza May 4, 2014 at 4:18 pm

You must do the flexibility segment! Especially the mermaid – it really helped me feel stretched and limber in my waddling state


Marie Wittman May 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

I am so excited to see more women incorporating Pilates into their approach to health during their pregnancy. Thanks Angela and others for sharing about your experience with it!
I can’t speak from my own experience yet, but I have taught Pilates to many women throughout their pregnancy and they all have experienced countless benefits from regular Pilates sessions (including easier and quicker labor).

If I may make two suggestions: whenever performing a Roll-Up, which is pretty similar to a sit-up and in that video is done with two pillows behind the back, it is really important to make sure the abdominals are engaging inward and upward in order to avoid diastasis recti and if there is any sign of this separation beginning to widen I would suggest avoiding Roll-Ups and any similar action and seeking expert advice. Second, I highly recommend squatting as a way to maintain and improve pelvic floor health. Kegel exercises are only a part of the bigger picture of pelvic floor strength and strong posterior muscles often go unmentioned when people talk about pelvic floor issues. Moreover, simply standing (which we all do significantly more than we do exercise) in the correct alignment is one of the best things we can do to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong and supple.

The video that I recommend for Pilates during pregnancy is:
**full disclosure- Jill was my master teacher :-)


Julie May 8, 2014 at 10:20 am

I’m catching up on these posts since they don’t come up on my updates, for some reason. Very interested to read this! I’m almost 11 weeks right now and have recently transitioned from “regular” DVDs to some prenatal ones so it’s great to see these suggestions. I worry about my arms, so I will check out that Madonna arms one!!


Nicole J May 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I use the same video! Well, used the same video! I’m 37 weeks and can only keep up with the flexibility segment now. It was shocking to see how each week, it got harder and harder to keep up with the video! The core segment made my belly feel weird, so I did my own modified versions, and eventually eliminated that part. Good luck!


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 12, 2014 at 7:10 am

I haven’t been a big fan of the core segment either. I prefer to do some variations of planks on my own though. Yes, I can totally see how the video gets harder as you go! Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy :)


Katy May 11, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I did Shiva Ray’s prenatal yoga DVD for my entire pregnancy and I would get off the subway three k from home and walk until my son was so large I thought I could feel his toes under my chin! I wish someone had told me about “baby biceps” though: my boy grew so quickly that it became very challengiing to carry him until I started doing some tricep dips and push-ups post partum to stay ahead of him. Madonnas arms? I gotta see that….


Jaclyn May 12, 2014 at 7:51 pm

Your prenatal workouts have inspired me. I also had a rough (and therefore lazy) first trimester but now that I’m at 14 weeks, I’m going strong and following your lead with the pilates and madonna arm routine. Question though: after 20 weeks I was advised to not lie on my back, are you continuing the full madonna arms or have you modified the lying down portion?


Julie June 2, 2014 at 4:19 pm

From Angela’s recommendation, I have been doing this video. Layed on my back the first time, but now that I’m a bit further along, I actually lie on a stability ball, pelvis pointed downward a bit. I think this works and still works the arms.


Susan S. May 19, 2014 at 8:18 am

Hi Angela, I am in my third trimester with my second and that exact DVD is my go to (10 minute solution). I did it until the day before I gave birth the first time. Another great one is The Perfect Pregnancy Workout vol. 1. I have the Summer Sanders one as well and find the Perfect Pregnancy is a little more fast pace and challenging. I just ordered The Perfect Pregnancy Workout vol. 3:The Ancient Art of Belly Dance for Labor. I did belly dancing with my first pregnancy and it helped a lot of any aches and pains I experienced towards the end of the pregnancy. I also did a lot of trail walking and yoga which I think helped. If you are looking for a prenatal yoga class in Oakville, there is one at Kula yoga which is great! Good luck :)


Erin May 28, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Can I please send you a Pfilates kit (DVD, booklet and exercise mini ball) to help strengthen your pelvic floor before and AFTER you have your little sweetie? I would be honored to give you this as you have given me terrific recipes (even though I am not vegan!!!) Let me know


Elena July 7, 2014 at 1:13 pm

I’m in my 14th week now and have felt like such a failure on the fitness front — on good days I can manage a bit of walking but that’s about it. The nausea and vomiting hasn’t abated yet but I hope that when it does I’ll be able to try out these workouts; they look great and I hope I’ll be able to handle it! I’m really feeling out of shape…


Stacey August 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

I second the body by trimester DVD series by Joy! Although I never did the first trimester disc since I was able to generally do my regular workout routine. There is also a postnatal DVD in the pack with 10 minute workouts, including one you do with your baby which I’ve done frequently once my son was a couple months old. I like the prenatal discs because they are more challenging than other DVDs and as someone who did a sprint triathlon right before finding out I was pregnant I needed a little more intensity.


Meg February 7, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Hi Angela! I was wondering if during pregnancy and now with nursing do you still take a extra b12 supplement even with your prenatal vitamin? Thanks!


Emma April 17, 2018 at 4:17 am

Hi, Angela! Finally at Baby #2 and entering my 6th week feeling out of control :( To top it all off, I am banned from working out until further notice from my doctor. Sigh. So I thought I’d look at your site for some sunshine. Any tips for dealing with first trimester blues? I don’t remember it being this bad with Baby #1!


Angela (Oh She Glows) April 17, 2018 at 7:10 am

Hey Emma, Aww I’m so sorry to hear you’re having the blues in the first tri. I had that with both of my pregnancies, and I felt like I was never going to snap out of it. And when you have another child to look after, well you know how draining it is! One thing you could try is speaking to your midwife or OB to make sure you are getting enough vitamins. Sometimes adding omega 3’s, probiotics, or vitamin D can help with mood. And taking some time each day to do something you enjoy can also help as well. Big hugs to you!! I hope it passes soon.


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