Pre and Postnatal Exercise...It can be done and it can be FUN!

With three children, I am all too familiar with trying to stay in shape throughout pregnancy, and get back into shape afterwards. I have first hand knowledge of the transformation of a women’s body during pregnancy, postpartum and beyond, including the aftermath...ahem, or rather “AfterGlow” of that time period. Although hormones, fatigue, nausea, and pain can interfere with our success in maintaining fitness, it is possible to re-gain, and surpass your fitness goals in the “AfterGlow” (even if you can’t even get off the me).

The benefits of exercise pre and postpartum not only include preparing you for the endurance of labour, and shedding that baby belly, but can improve your overall health and mental wellness. Including; increased energy, increased bone density, decreased stress, and reduced risk of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.

After 13 weeks, eliminate exercises in the supine postion. Yoga and strength training are great primers for labour. Wait 4-6 weeks Postpartum before beginning a workout regime. Walking or gentle Yoga are encouraged from 2 weeks on for women who were fit prenatally and have had uncomplicated births.

Listen to your body:
Physiologically take into account what your body is going through. You need time to recover and heal properly before diving into your pre-baby workouts. Your hormones, like Relaxin, which relax your joints and muscles during pregnancy, enabling your hips to open for birth, are still pumping through your body until 6-9 months postpartum. Also, during pregnancy, your blood volume increases by 50%, which means you may become light headed. Take it slow.

Safe and comfortable ab work,like crunches, transverse abdominal exercises, and kegels are encouraged throughout pregnancy. Although the first thing we want to do postpartum, is start crunching our way back to thin, it’s not the most effective way to shed the pounds. Building larger muscle groups will burn fat faster and increase your strength and energy. Try squats, lunges, warrior pose, and 1/2 bridge pose.

When seeking a program, look for one that suits your needs. A place in close proximity to your home, has stroller access, and offers specialized classes. Enlist a personal trainer who specializes in Pre and Postnatal health & fitness. Go with a friend or connect with other moms. It’s just as important to exercise your mental health as it is your physical, so have fun with it! 

Julie Watson is the founder and owner of AfterGlow Health & Fitness, in Toronto’s Hillcrest Village. As a Can-Fit-Pro Certified Personal Trainer specializing in Pre and Postnatal Fitness, a Certified Pre and Postnatal Yoga Instructor, as well as Certified Spin Instructor, Julie takes the necessity of incorporating health & fitness into pregnancy and postpartum, and makes it safe, informative, and exciting. You can read more from Julie at or in Tonic Magazine as Optimom

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