Prenatal Exercise

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello,

    I am interested in any and all prenatal fitness classes (yoga, Pilates, dance, whatever!) that are available during weekday evenings after work. The best place I have found is barefoot movement in downtown Oakland which has two weekday evening classes on Tuesday and Thursday, but I wish I could find something available Monday, Wednesday, Friday! I’m starting to notice the difference when I have 4-5 days in between classes if I have to miss one and would love more options. Sadly, most studios seem to cater to mothers who don’t work with classes during M-F work hours which is such a bummer for me.

    Thank you!

    Not prenatal-specific, but Core Society in Emeryville has late (7:30PM) reformer classes monday-wednesday. I went there every week until the last week of my pregnancy so I can highly recommend it. The movements are low impacts and the instructors know very well how to modify the movements for pregnant ladies. 

    I took prenatal yoga classes at the Berkeley YMCA (Wednesday evenings at 6:30pm) this spring and loved it. The teacher, Viviana, also teaches prenatal yoga on Fridays at 5:45pm at Heart Source in North Berkeley. 

    I've been enjoying the prenatal yoga classes with Square One Yoga! I go to their El Cerrito location, but have also been to the Oakland location. Both teachers were very nice and I liked their style. 

    The Lotus Method in Oakland has great pre and post natal classes. 

  • Prenatal exercise class with toddler

    (2 replies)

    Wondering if anyone knows of any parent-and-child exercise classes in the East Bay.  With a toddler, and being pregnant, I would love to exercise more, but think it'll be much more achievable  if I could do it during a day with my kid.  Thanks!

    Hello! I believe the Dailey Method offers childcare for a small fee when you take their classes. Good luck!

    If you like barre exercise/pilates type work outs (where there is lots of room for modifying for pregnancy), I highly recommend you consider the Bar Method in N. Berkeley where there is a kids room for your toddler for just $5/class (you do need to register for class and kids room early as it fills up). Membership is expensive, but for me this was a great workout prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy, and definitely post-pregnancy!

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Pregnancy Pilates and personal training

Jan 2013

Hi, I am beginning my second trimester in January with my third child. I am looking for a good Pilates studio in Berkeley. Also if there are any mums or to be mums in the second trimester - I would love to partner for semi private classes. I would also love recommendations on a personal trainer who is trained to work with pregnant women.

I just NEEDED to share that Pregnancy and FIT classes at Brooklyn Academy Roots in Jack London Square on Sundays at 10am is wonderful. As a mother of a 17 mo old and now pregnant with #2, I can't stress enough about how Mindy, my personal trainer and the class instructor is a great motivator. She is a mother herself and educates you on the body and nutrition. I have lost 11 pds post baby #1 and now planning to have the healthiest & strongest pregnancy possible with these great classes. Fit, Pregnant and HAPPY

Prenatal pilates trainer class?

Dec 2012

I am looking for a personal trainer and/or pilates class that is geared towards strengthening the core and staying fit while pregnant. I didn't see any recent reviews anon

I have been training in one-on-one sessions with Anya Schmidt since early in my pregnancy. I notice the difference in back pain, tension, etc when I haven't been for a while (doing 1-2x per week). My midwives say my abs are ''very strong'' and my husband notices my back muscles. I know my pelvic floor is both strong and able to release. Recently I started 1 session/week in duet with another pregnant woman with Joanna Clinton. Both trainers are great, Anya is more stretching/rehab focused while Joanna is more ''workout'' oriented. I could find no prenatal pilates classes, but you could lower the cost of training by finding a duet partner who is due within ~2-4 weeks of your due date.

Anya Schmidt @ Temescal Pilates and Bodywork (53rd and Telegraph in Oakland)

Joanna Arhon Clinton @ Studio 74 (Powell and San Pablo in Emeryville)

Karen Casino ( is amazing. Once I got past my nausea-filled first trimester, I started classes with Karen every Saturday morning until a few weeks before giving birth to twins. As a pretty physically active person pre-pregnancy, prenatal yoga classes weren't enough for me and they didn't really attend to my pelvic floor for more than 3 minutes a class, if that. Karen's prenatal pilates class was exactly what I needed. She is extremely knowledgeable about muscles and bones, and even gave me lots of advice on how to promote health, manage back or hip pain, and prevent injury (and diastasis rectii!) by modifying my everyday motions as well as during my other exercises I continued through pregnancy. Sometimes being pregnant was a physical downer, but my body always felt great after I went to class with Karen. Post-partum, I'm so grateful to Karen for my physical fitness during pregnancy, my killer transverse abs, and my awesome pelvic floor--all of which I am sure contributed to my fast post-partum recovery. Looking back, I am also grateful she had me do arm exercises so I could haul around these babies after giving birth. Her class fees are ridiculously low and she offers pre-, post-natal, and infant massage. Karen is patient, thoughtful, and kind. I'd describe her as the holy prenatal trinity of pilates trainer, doula, and fairy godmother. CC

I have an incredible Pilates trainer to recommend. Her name is Meridi Williams and her website is Meridi helped me to get back in shape after having kids. I was looking to strengthen my core area and overall body. I thought going to a ''mom boot camp'' was the way to go. But after suffering a rotator cuff injury, I realized that I needed to take it slower. Meridi made me understand that by doing Pilates regularly, I could get stronger and fit overall without injuries. After just one month, I began to feel the improvement in my strength. It has been over 6 months now and I have see the difference in my body. Additionally, Meridi is a Physical Therapist by profession so she understands how bodies work. I would highly recommend her, no matter what shape or stage your body is in. lori

Prenatal pilates class

May 2009

During my pregnancy I worked out with Karen Casino. She has a studio behind her home in Berkeley and a workout called the Pregnancy Workout. I believe it would be accurate to say it is pilates-based. I'd recommend it. You can find more information at Becky

I would highly recommend Nicole Richter for Pre-/post-natal Pilates classes. You can email her for locations and times: Nicole Richter Pilates (415) 516 9117 nrichter [at]

Looking for a Prenatal Certified Trainer

Jan 2008

So, I just peed on a stick & it was positive! When pregnant with my first I worked out once a week at NYSC with a prenatal certified trainer (plus 1 day of prenatal yoga & 1 day of aqua aerobics). I think I was in the best shape of my life. I would like to get involved in the same routine here in the east bay. Who did you work with so you didn't become a boat? Mama needs to get in shape.

Congratulations! I'm pregnant with my first and have been doing a routine similar to what you are describing: prenatal workouts, prenatal yoga, and walking, walking, walking (rather than aqua). I've been doing my prenatal workouts with Connie at Baby Boot Camp, and she is great! Just love her. I notice she isn't advertising her prenatal classes on the website right now, but if you email her, she can probably work something out with you, or recommend another trainer in the area who might have a scheduled class going. We meet every Sat (weather permitting, b/c it's outdoors) for an hour and do power-walking (to my level) and strength training with resistance bands. I got an ''okay'' from my doctor to do the workout and it's really helped keep my weight gain at a good level. I'm 34 weeks along and up 29 lbs total. I'm pretty happy with that! Good luck to you!

Check out Partum Me! in Alameda. This is a must-do for pregnant women and new moms! You can do private or duet prenatal sessions in a Pilates based studio. This program will keep you strong and fit and is designed specifically for the prenatal and postpartum population. Get more details at Details can also be found at Suzanne

Pregnant Mom Seeks Prenatal Exercise Class

Feb 2007

Hi, I am 23 weeks pregnant with my 2nd child and am look to join a prenatal exercise type class(yoga, pilates, swimming. I live in Montclair but can travel up to 30 minutes away- depending on time of day etc. i'm hoping to get recommendations from moms who really loved one that they took, and also I'm hoping to meet OTHER PREGNANT MOMS that may want to try one of these classes out with me(couldnt fit this in title:(, but will post separately BPN, don't worry!). I didn't try any of these classes with my first, but have heard that they can be very beneficial to your energy during pregnancy and can be helpful during labor and delivery. Your recommendations are appreciated and i look forward to meeting some of you to check this out with me!

Check out the prenatal Baby Boot Camp class at Lake Temescal on Tuesday and Friday AM. You can find out more information at I am convinced it help me get through my epidural-free (not by choice) labor and helped me get rid of all the pregnancy weight much faster. And you can continue in Baby Boot Camp after you have your baby as well! An awesome workout.

Pregnancy pilates?

Oct 2006


I'd highly recommend the Dailey Method - there is a location on Piedmont Avenue as well as in Marin and SF. It's great! anon

Check out Partum Me! classes in Alameda. The prenatal Pilates classes are Wednesday evening and Saturday morning. 510-523-1900 Suzanne

Want to continue regular workouts during pregnancy

April 2006

Can anyone help me with a recommendation for an obgyn who has experience with exercise during pregnancy? I am already very active and work out regularly. I am looking to find an obgyn who can help me continue to exercise during my pregnancy. Thanks for your advice. Lauren

While I can't recommend a specific OBGYN for you, I can recommend my new web site, It provides free in depth information and advice on all aspects of prenatal and postpartum fitness and exercise.

Some OBGYN's are still a little behind the curve when it comes to prenatal fitness, and the web site will give you the tools that you need to discuss your specific needs with your doctor so that you can have the healthiest pregnancy and baby as possible.

Prenatal exercise provides numerous profound benefits to both the expectant mom and her developing baby, and you deserve a hearty pat on the back for wanting to keep in top condition during your pregnancy. Helene Byrne, BeFit-Mom,

Last year when I was pregnant with my son I took a wonderful prenatal yoga class (at the Berkeley YMCA) lead by Dr. Sara Gottfried. Sara was also pregnant at the time (with her second child) and she was able to share a wealth of knowledge and experience (as a pregnant woman, a mother, a yoga practitioner and an ob-gyn). I had already decided on a home birth but, had that not been the case, I DEFINITELY would have wanted to see an ob-gyn like Sara. If you are interested in a doctor that will not only support you in a prenatal exercise program but also encourage a holistic approach to your pregnany I think she is worth looking up! Vanessa

Please feel free to contact Suzanne Koval, MSPT at Partum Me! on how to exercise safely through pregnancy. She specializes in pre and postnatal exercise, Pilates and rehab. She is very familiar with the medical community and can help you pick an OB/Gyn that supports your active lifestle. Check out her bio at You can email her at suzannekoval[at] Afifa

Prenatal pilates

Jan 2006

I am pregnant w/ my second child, about one month. I've realized that I am hopelessly out of shape, so tired, and am struggling w/ my posture. It seems like it happened over night. I searched the pilates info on BPN, but most of the information is not immediately current. As a beginner to pilates, should I start w/ an indivual? who? or a class? Mat or equipment? Or an individual and transfer to a class? Are there classes that use equipment? thank you for any and all information you can provide. feel free to email me off list. nita

I would recommend getting a set of 10-20 private lessons and then change to a class once someone has taught you the correct way of doing the excercises. It's important to do the excercises correctly or you could hurt yourself or the excercise isn't as productive. I recommend the Ellie Herman Studio in Oakland. They have some great instructors who have done some prenatal teaching.

Exercise during pregnancy is great, even essential, but make sure to take it slow and not overdo it. Focus on spreading your exercise throughout the week, rather than doing a lot on one or two days. Only take pilates classes formulated specifically for pregnant women, and make sure the instructor is well-informed regarding prenatal exercise, etc. And, remember, pregnancy is not the time to get a six pack. Exercise for your health and that of your baby, not to lose weight or radically increase muscle tone. Make sure you're eating a balanced diet with at least 80 grams of protein. I have a friend that was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and part of the prescription for dealing with it included walking for 20 minutes after each meal or large snack. Needless to say, by the time she gave birth, she had significant more muscle tone and was in better overall shape than when she conceived. Take it slow, be aware of your heart rate and heat level, and drink lots of water. (Yoga is also fantastic for shaping up in pregnancy, and has a mind/body approach that pregnant moms find very relaxing and even helpful for morning sickness. You may want to try taking a class--you are welcome at any stage of pregnancy.) hope that helps

Rigorous exercise during pregnancy

March 2004

I am 13 weeks pregnant with my first child and am trying to figure out the pros/cons of fairly intense exercise. Pre- pregnancy, I was working out 3-4x/week on machines (elliptical, bicycle, etc.) and also lifting weights (free and machines). The cardio stuff is typically at a heart rate of 160-170.

I am trying to figure out how much exercise is healthy and how much is risky during pregnancy. Most of the stuff you read online is quite conservative -- I have even read in more than one place that you should keep your heart rate below 115, which for me is just vacuuming or something. My nurse-midwife said to keep my heart rate below 140, and that lifting weights is okay as long as I don't do any lifting that involves my midsection.

Exercise is an enormous stress-reliever for me, and also helps stabilize my moods. And I can't help but believe that if exercise is so good for individuals, it should be healthy for babies too. During the first eight or nine weeks, I was so fatigued that this wasn't really an issue -- I felt tired like I had the flu -- but now that my energy's back, I want to get back at it. I tried keeping my heart rate below 140, but it just didn't feel like I was getting a workout at all. I would *love* to work out more intensely, but don't want to do anything too risky.

I've been looking for more info, and read the book _Exercising through Your Pregnancy_, by James Clapp, which is very pro- intense exercise, but I'd like to hear more opinions. Are there exercise junkies or athletes out there who have researched this issue? How much is too much -- particularly with regard to heart rate? How about weightlifting? And have you worked with an OB or midwife who was supportive of higher- intensity exercise? I hate to be working out surreptitiously and not telling my midwife because she doesn't approve... I can't be the only person who has ever had this issue.

Thanks for your advice! anonymous

Well, I think how much to exercise is a pretty personal decision. Before I got pregnant the first time, I ran a lot and lifted a lot of weights. I got pregnant, kept exercising at the same level, and had a miscarrriage. The second time I got pregnant, I exercised a lot less, but micarried again. Third time--I don't even remember--but yup, miscarried again.

Even though there was no evidence that exercise caused my miscarriages, the fourth time I pretty much sat on my butt, went for walks every once in awhile, thought about doing yoga, and got in the pool now and then for very low impact exercise. I gained a lot of (but according to my doctor, not too much) weight. The last couple months were hard. I was not terrifically fit going into labor. But you know what? Even though now I feel very out of shape, I have a really great baby. And slowly but surely I am starting to feel more fit.

If I got pregnant again, I would take it even easier, even though I'd love to be one of those moms showing off my midriff while pushing the jogger at six weeks postpartum. But that's just me. I have a friend who ran a marathon while 4 months pregnant and another who ran long distances regularly until she was 25 weeks along. Both of their pregnancies and kids were and are fine.

Good luck with your decision and pregnancy! wish I were in better shape but glad I have my baby

Argh, the outdated ''140 bpm'' rule. A pet peeve of mine. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) *used to* have a ''guideline'' that pg women should keep their heartrates below 140 bpm. This is, of course, crazy, since it doesn't take account of age or prior fitness level, or whether you're at 145 for 30 seconds running for a bus or 180 for 30 minutes. ACOG realized that it was useless, and in the mid-90s, withdrew it as a guideline. Your provider should have a copy of the current guidelines or you can order them from ACOG. I have one book that I liked, although I can't remember the name...something straightforward like ''Exercise During Pregnancy'' and the author was a woman with 3 names, I think (i.e. she used first, middle, last. hope that's enough to go on!).

In terms of level of intensity of workout, the current guidelines relate to ''perceived level of exertion,'' and recommend that you stay at moderate levels, which basically means that you could carry on a conversation. And, you should watch that you don't overheat, and stay hydrated.

After I got over my first-trimester exhaustion, I pretty much continued my pre-preg workout, including running, weightlifting and XC skiing. As I got bigger, I adjusted some things, finding, for example, that the elliptical trainer was more comfortable than running. XC skiing up to 30 weeks felt great -- the drive up there was the hard part! For my weightlifting routine, the only thing I changed was giving up bench press (I used the upright pec fly machines instead) and obviously changed ab routines to accomodate the belly. I got some funny looks at the gym doing lat pulldowns with a big ol' belly, but it felt really good. I made sure to concentrate on form and I didn't worry at all about advancing my routine.

There are sometimes reasons not to exercise, so it is important to have a care provider you can discuss this with and who won't just cite 10-year old guidelines as hard and fast rules. I saw Bill Isenberg. He is wonderful for so many reasons, not least of which is that when I told him I wanted to go XC skiing, he shrugged and said ''make sure to drink lots of water.''

Congrats on your pregnancy, and have fun! anne

Hi, I ran just as much pregnant as I did prior to my pregnancy, 6 days a week, 3-7 miles/day. My most recent baby was born about 24 hours after a five mile run. Both of my pregnancies went to term and led to healthy eight pound babies. And I had great natural deliveries, I think largely due to my confidence and endurance. I agree with Dr. Clapp that it's safe to keep up your routine, just don't add anything new. Have a wonderful pregnancy! rachel

Hi -- First let me say that I can only offer my personal experience -- not medical advice. During my first pregnancy I did intense cardio kickboxing four times a week up until the day before I delivered which was 11 days AFTER my due date (I was induced).

I was quite fit before my pregnancy. Then I curled up in a chair during the first trimester morning sickness and then never felt better in my life than when I was exercising for the remainder of the pregnancy. When I went back to the gym I was first careful about taking my heart rate, but then decided to monitor more how I was feeling rather than exactly how fast my heart was beating.

-- I made sure that I would be able to talk comfortably while exercising. In other words, I tried not to get breathless.

-- I was VERY careful not to get too hot (always choosing a well ventilated spot).

-- I always drank at least a quart of water during the class and ate really well and drank LOTS more water throughout the day.

-- And, I tried hard to listen to what my body and baby were telling me. (My baby seemed to like the class and would often kick along with me.)

Watching myself and my belly in the mirror during class was so fun. I have never been prouder of my body and never felt better -- emotionally or physically. (Now three plus years and one more child later, I have yet to return to the gym... too busy with kids -- a whole other kind of joy... So, now is your chance to focus on you!)

I wish you all the best! Connellan

I once took an African dance class, during which the teacher was well into her 3rd trimester. We are talking VERY intense excercise - very high-energy, high-impact dancing for an hour straight, and I don't think this was her only class. She had a perfectly healthy pregnancy and a baby born healthy and at term. My opinion: if you are in shape enough already to do rigorous exercise, you can do it in pregnancy - just pay attention to how you feel, and stop if it doesn't feel good. Jen

About exercise during pregnancy you are generally going to get cautious advice about how much to exercise as no one wants to be the cause of you having a miscarriage. The big thing to remember here as that you didn't just start exercising when you became pregnant so you are already pretty fit so that means you can probably do more than most people. there are a few guidelines that i find useful when I teach pregnant clients and again everyone's fitness level varies and different things are appropriate at different times during your pregancy.

Generally maximum heart rate of 140-150 or set limit in consultation with your doctor- you should be able to carry on a conversation, not be so winded that you can't. if you exercise too hard you deprive the fetus of your blood supply. Avoid overheating and exercising in hot conditions. Drink plenty of fluid Don't exercise laying on your back after the end of the 6th month. No ballistic sports Stretch gently- to 80% of your max. Don't hold breath No inner thigh machines- leg lifts are ok, but do not add weight to this. Be careful and aware of abdominal separation. Ab work is ok, but if there is separation it is not. Avoid inversion, especially after 3rd month. You need to emphasize pelvic floor work while you do all your other exercises. Also hip flexor and side stretches are good.

So probably you need back off how much weight you are lifting. And, again, it might seem fine now, but later it won't be. If you feel pain, especially sudden pain you need to back off.

Anyway, there is lots more that can be said on the subject and I am glad to talk with you. I am a pilates teacher and just taught through my pregnancy and also took a class with a physical therapist about appropriate pregnancy exercise.Commonsense is probably the best advice. Anyway, good luck and take it easy. Andrea

Dear Exercise enthusiast- As a physical therapist specializing in womenUs health, I wholehearted support an exercise regime during pregnancy. As a small time triathlete (sprints) I understand your drive for high intensity exercise. I also know the early fatigue and the now desire to get back into the swing of things. But in my opinion, you need to have some restraint. Most recommendations out there air on the side of caution, geared toward the beginner exerciser. Certainly this is not true in your case. But, one of the major concerns in exercising vigorously is that it increases your core body temperature. Raising the core body temperature more than 2 degrees is not good for a growing fetus. I am sorry that my recourses donUt list specific problems, they only state that there have been documented complications to pregnancy when the core body temperature was raised. (The most common application here is the avoidance of hot tubs where the temperature is 100 degrees) My resources recommend exercising 60-70% of your max HR throughout your pregnancy. They also recommend that you continue with this limitation until you are 12 weeks post-partum. There is the standard formula: 60% to 70% of 220-age= maximal heart rate range.

Honestly, that gives you a rough estimate. You may be one of those people that have a high max heart rate. The only way to determine that is by having an exercise stress test, which no one in his/her right mind would do on a pregnant woman. Regardless, the thing to keep in mind is the limitation of not raising your core body temperature.

You also donUt want to become breathless during your exercise session limiting the oxygen supply to your growing baby. You can still exercise to get those brain chemicals circulating that combat stress. You just may have to do a lower intensity exercise for longer duration to achieve those benefits that you gain faster with more intense exercise.

As far as lifting weights goes, I agree with not doing any specific resistance work with weights for the abdominal region. In my opinion, pregnant women should avoid exercise that stretch the trunk region into extension (straining on the abdominals), use a lower weight and make sure that you are stabilizing with your abdominals just prior & throughout your movement. If you are unable to stabilize your spine you are lifting too heavy a weight. Doing fast or ballistic movements can fool you into thinking you are stable when you are not. You end up using momentum to assist you instead of your own muscle power. This may be hard to tell on yourself. I would STRONGLY recommend having a trainer observe you a few times to get feedback. Also you should be careful of the Adductor machine. Placing your legs in maximum stretch can cause irritation and problems at the symphasis pubis (where your pelvic bones join in the front of your body). This can become a serious & painful problem later in your pregnancy.

And please communicate with your providers. That relationship is built on trust & honesty going both ways. Stay fit & flexible and have a wonderful pregnancy and delivery.

Kelli Manring, PT, MSPT Physical Therapist, Doula, Pilates Instructor

I'm 35 weeks pregnant now, and did a lot of research about this early in my pregnancy. I am a professional dancer, so I had similar questions about workout intensity and what kinds of activity are ok. First, the advice to keep your heartrate below 140 are based on ancient (1984) ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) guidelines. Current guidelines focus instead on perceived exertion, taking into account that pregnant women often have elevated heartrates, and are not necessarily exhausting themselves by working out at relatively high heartrates. Check out some summaries of current guidelines:

That being said, I think it is true that it can be tempting to try to keep going at pre-pregnancy levels, and that can lead to overdoing it. I found that my stamina decreased considerably from about the middle of my first trimester to the middle of my second, and then gradually came back to almost normal, until the last couple of weeks, when my uterus has been getting in the way of my diaphragm (and I'm really feeling the effect of the extra 28 pounds). I had to keep reminding myself to modify my expectations of what I could actually do in a workout or a dance class, and to really gauge it day by day.

I didn't keep track of web sites about weightlifting, but after doing a bunch of research, my understanding is that abdominal work is fine as long as 1. you don't do it on your back after around 3-5 months (there is no consistency in the advice about exactly when you should stop) and 2. you don't have abdominal wall separation that you are aggravating, or uterine or pelvic ligaments that you are straining. You can see and feel abdominal wall separation if you lay on your back and contract your abdomen enough to lift up your head -- the middle of your abdomen will pooch out a little, and feel soft, instead of being flat as it should be. As far as ligaments go, you'll know it if you're overdoing it -- it hurts! I didn't do weightlifting per se, but I use all of these muscles constantly as a dancer, and I needed to keep them relatively strong to keep dancing. From my research and my experience, it seems safe to do the kinds of abdominal exercises that are gentle and can be made more intense by increasing reps, not amount of weight born. I haven't seen one bit of medical advice/research that suggests that it would endanger the fetus; the concern is about the increasingly stretchy and strained ligaments and muscles of the woman.

I have the same issue with my midwife -- she wanted me to stop dancing right at the beginning of my pregnancy, and she tends to blame my normal pregnancy complaints (for example, achey hips at night) on my dancing. I decided to explain that dancing was important to me, and I intended to keep going (with modifications) throughout my pregnancy. She probably doesn't really approve, but she let it go, and I feel better having her know than feeling like I'm sneaking around. It does mean I need to look elsewhere (written sources, friends) for support and advice, though, which is not always ideal.

Good luck with it, and I hope you have an energetic, physically active pregnancy! anonymous

I think how much you exercise during your pregnancy is a very personal decision, but should certainly be based on your pre- pregnancy practices. Before pregnancy, I also worked out (although I hike, no running) nearly every day, lifted weights, and did yoga. I initially stepped down the routine, in terms of its intensity, but found that I didn't feel as good.

After consulting with my doctor and my yoga teacher, I readjusted my routine. Now, at 7 months pregnant, I am hiking up and down big hills again - for about an hour a day, lifting 2-3 times per week, and doing yoga (with alterations to ensure the baby and/or my back is not injured). And I must confess - I feel a MILLION times better than with the lower level exercise routine. It's also helped me to feel in control of my body, at a time when it is most definitely not under my control, in terms of growth.

The most important things are: --- If it doesn't feel right, STOP! You're body actually knows quite a bit about itself. If you are hurting yourself or your unborn child, you will feel pain or some sort of warning. Pay attention - this is not the time to work through the pain.

--- Don't get your core temperature above 100 degrees. Easiest way to measure this is with a thermometer. When you're running a heartbeat of 160, are you sweating? If not, you're probably fine, but if you feel out of breath or dizzy - this is a warning sign.

--- Make adjustments that will ensure your safety and the baby's safety. For example - when lifting weights, as you get bigger, you may want to lower the weight amount you lift and do more repetitions --- or, as I have learned, when you do lunges, hold on to something with one hand, as your balance changes as your belly grows.

Other than that - it seems those of us who use exercise as a way to feel good, benefit from continuing exercise throughout the pregnancy. Good Luck

I really don't know what the 'studies' say but I will definatly be working out harder through my next pregnancy. I think you don't need to check your heart rate but just don't get completly overexerted, it's that whole listen to your body thing. Being very fit while pregnant may not lead to an easier labour but I was happy my arms and legs were strong and I had a lot of stamina when faced with a challenging and long labour. Plus it makes getting back in shape much easier. Also I had a c- cection delivery and my recovery was easy and I'd like to think it had something to do with being fit.

I did not see the original posting, but based on the response, I assume the question had to do with how to exercise safefly during exercise and how to determine what level of intensity is OK.

I am a Certified Group Fitness instructor with specialty certifications in prenatal, postnatal, and youth fitness. I just typed up a VERY long response and lost it, so this time I'll make it very short and suggest that you call me to discuss if you want more details. The short of it is that there are general recommendations out there that address safety issues for mom and baby (see the Dos and Don'ts under the Why Exercise button on my website: Most to the recommendations have to do with protecting mom from injury and protecting mom from loosing balance, which protects mom and baby. Regarding intensity level, the general recommendation is to listen to your body, exercise at mild to moderate intensity levels, and to modify exercise based on maternal symptoms (if you're short of breath, slow down). The recommendations are vague, because the actual intensity level varies by person, based on pre-pregnancy fitness level and stage of pregnancy. The main concern that seems to be out there is ''overheating of the baby.'' Babies don't have the same cooling mechanisim that we do, since they cannot sweat. So, if our body temperature rises, we cool down through sweating, but baby cannot cool down in the same way. There are no conclusive studies (to my knowledge) that show what intensity (and what body temperatures) are safe. But, I would be happy to talk more about your particular situation, so feel free to email or call, if you'd like. My contact info is on my website. Marie

As a perinatal exercises specialist I can give you some guidelines as to rigourous exercise during pregnancy. First, if you are less than 20 weeks along, you can continue to build cardiovascular endurance. However, beyond 20 weeks, your goal shifts to maintaince of cardiovascular fitness. This is because the placenta stops growing at this time, and since it is a circulatory organ, it's functional capacity will essentially top off at this point.

Previously sedentary women are advised not to begin cardiovasular exercise after 20 weeks for the smae reason.

Be aware that as your pregnancy continues, your perceived exertion for a particular activity will slowly rise, as your baby grows and demands more from your system. So, if you are very fit and can sustain 12 Mets for 30 minutes running on a treadmill while staying below your anaerobic threshold, you will gradually need to lower your exertion rate to stay within your cardiovascular workout zone. Use perceived exertion as your guide. Stay within a range where your workouts are ''somewhat difficult'', and you won't go wrong. Secondly, in the last months of pregnancy, as your ligaments loosen up, you may find that all impact activities become too stressful. A good cardio alternative are the eliptical machines. You can get a great cardio workout, remain weight bearing (!), and since it is nonimpact, stay safe. A lastly, an important and oftentimes overlooked aspect of exercise during pregnancy is to work on developing and maintaing core strength in every workout session. Strong limbs with a weak or unintergrated core is a recipe for pain and injury. If you have any specific concerns, feel free to drop me an email and I'd be happy to share with you more info on maintaing a high fitness level during pregnancy. Helene Byrne

Hi! I'm pregnant now and I don't exercise as much as I should, but I have read a ton of literature on pregnancy and here are the mains points I have read on exercise and pregnancy:

1) Don't get overheated. You don't want to let your core body temperature get too high (it's bad for the baby), so drink lots of fluids and take it down a notch or two if you are really really hot.

2) Don't let yourself get out of breath. You want to make sure the baby always gets a good supply of oxygen so keep breathing!

3) In the third trimester (and perhaps earlier), your joints will relax due to a hormone (relaxin?). This is to loosen and open up your pelvis in preparation for childbirth. So, take it easy on your joints then. Do lower impact exercises and don't hyperextend any joints. Andi

Alternate to yoga, YMCA for pre-natal exercise

June 2003

I'm looking for prenatal excerise classes (light aerobics?) offered in the Berkeley area. I'm looking for ALTERNATIVES to yoga and YMCA classes. I checked the archives, but most responses were about YMCA, yoga or postpartum classes. Thank you.

I attended post-natal classes with Karen Casino at her home in Berkeley. She also provides pre-natal classes. She is good and her sessions fun and informative. If you enjoy her sessions, you will be able to continue with post-natal classes (childcare provided right next to you). I believe her rates are sliding scale. It's definitely more personal than any exercise center. Call her at(510) 644 - 2066. EAnnis

I am a certified group fitness instructor with specialty certification in prenatal/postnatal fitness. Although I do not teach in Berkely, I do teach prenatal exercise classes in Hercules (about 25 minutes from north Berkeley). Each 55 minute class includes warm-up, low-impact aerobics, muscle conditioning, and stretching. The classes are designed to be safe for pregnant women (e.g., moderate intensity, no quick directional changes nor movements that can compromise balance, exercises to condition muscles to maintain correct posture and to prepare for labor and childbirth). For details see or you can call me directly at 510-245-7587. Marie

Feb 2003

Does any one know of any prenatal water exercise/aerobic classes that are not part of a gym or the Y? I'm hoping to find a place in Oakland, if possible. Elizabeth

Yes! I am going to offer a pre-natal/post-natal Nia class in the Glenview district of Oakland starting this January. Classes will be M-W-F at 11:00 at the Glenview Performing Arts center 1318 Glenfield Ave. Nia is a very gentle mind-body-spirit work out based on dance, martial arts and yoga. Please e-mail me for more info. Danielle dhw (at)

Low-cost prenatal exercise classes

November 2001

hello. can anyone help me find a free or low cost pre-natal excersise class? in berkeley / oakland area? thanks! tracy

The Berkeley YMCA has prenatal aquafitness and yoga. You may buy a community pass, good for just the classes without having to pay any other monthly or annual fee. Great fun and meet other moms to be. Nancy

I highly recommend the pre-natal yoga classes at Yogalyam (on Alcatraz between MLK and Sacramento -phone 655-3664). Saraswathi who teaches the class is probably one of the most knowledgeable person on pregnancy and childbirth in the east bay - besides yoga, she is also knowledgeable on herbs and acupressure for pregnancy and labor. Her classes are worth any price, but are normally $10.50 a class. I know she used to do work exchange and barter when I took her classes three years ago. She holds pre-natal yoga classes on Wed and Sat 10-12 and also has workshops on birth preparation, infant massage, etc. -Stephanie

Pre-natal classes

Hi all, I'm trying to find an East Bay-based prenatal exercise class or personal trainer. I had a great class in SF with my first pregnancy; now I'm here, pregnant again, and would love some exercise guidance. Thanks Susan

The Berkeley Y offers prenatal water exercise three times a week (M, W 7-8 PM, Sat 8-9 AM) and a five week/meets once a week prenatal yoga class. You can get a community membership for $40 [valid for a year]. After that, the water exercise is $48 for 8 classes, the yoga is $30 for five. I just signed up for the yoga class that starts Sept 20, so I haven't tried that yet. I did go to the water exercise class and had an absolute blast (and afterwards I had the best nights sleep I've had in over a month). I also just heard that Seventh Heaven Yoga Studio offers pre-natal yoga. -- Anna Anna

i don't know of any exercises classes, however, the last months of my pregnancy i went swimming every other day at dimond park's heated pool. it was heaven to get some good aerobic exercise and feel lightweight again (and about as low-impact as one can get). Carrie

To the person asking about pre-natal exercise classes, I heartily recommend the pre-natal water aerobics classes at the Berkeley YMCA. Besides a good workout, each session includes time to chat with other mothers. I attended the classes only during my last month of pregnancy, but if I had it to do over again, I'd be there from the 3rd-4th month on. I'm not sure of the schedule and the price, but when I was pregnant four years ago the classes were held two evenings a week and early Saturday morning. Suzanne

The Albany Y on Kains just north of Solano has prenatal/postpartum aerobics M and W mornings (at 10?--you'd better call to double check). The cost 6/class. They are a great way to meet other pregnant women and new moms and the teacher is great. Jenny

Summit Hospital in Oakland offers prenatal exercise classes. Call 869-6519 for dates, times, locations. Probably Alta Bates offers classes as well.