Staying fit while pregnant

Amsterdam Mamas: Staying fit while sporting a bump

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Want to work that booty while growing your bump? Here are a few tips from a fitness trainer to advise how (Amsterdam) mamas-to-be can safely keep active and healthy during pregnancy.

I was recently leading an exercise group of pregnant women in the Amsterdamse Bos when two athletic, elderly ladies approached me and told me how great it was to see the level at which we were working out.

When they were pregnant, one lady said, they were advised against all activities that required them to lift their arms above head level, as it was thought to be bad for the baby.

Swimming, jogging and other forms of exercise were most certainly out of the question in those days.

Fortunately, we know more about exercise during pregnancy today than we did back then, and pregnant women now have countless activities to choose from to help them stay fit.

How exactly does exercise during pregnancy benefit mum and baby?

Some of the benefits of exercise during pregnancy include: 

  • fewer physical complaints
  • less fatigue
  • better posture
  • decreased risk of gestational diabetes
  • a shorter and more manageable labour
  • quicker recovery after labour

Recent studies have also shown that frequent exercise can lead to better heart health for the baby, since they too are active participants during exercise. As a pregnancy fitness instructor, the benefit that sticks out to me the most is the boost in energy I see in pregnant women after they have completed a workout. Often women arrive to class yawning after a long day of work, but they inevitably walk away energised, with a pep in their step!

What can I continue to do during pregnancy? What must I stop?

Now that we have discussed the benefits, let's move on to some of the types of suitable exercises that can be performed during pregnancy. Swimming, cycling, brisk walking, and (many) fitness classes are all great choices. Some of the activities which are better avoided include contact sports – such as volleyball, football, and hockey – horse-riding, skiing and scuba diving.

The two questions I get asked the most from women taking my class are:

1) Can I continue to run?

2) What about abdominal exercises?

When it comes to running, if you were running prior to becoming pregnant, you can continue to do so throughout your pregnancy. Even non-runners can jog for small distances, such as during interval training. Whatever distance you choose, it is important to maintain a good posture and keep your stride small. If at any time you start to feel uncomfortable, stop running and walk briskly instead.

Contrary to popular belief, abdominal exercises during pregnancy are not only acceptable, but recommended. After the first trimester, exercises done while lying on the back, as well as exercises that focus solely on the rectus abdominis (also known as the 'six pack') should be discontinued. But there are still countless other exercises that can be done to safely strengthen the core region.

When must I stop exercising?

During a healthy pregnancy you can continue to exercise up until the very end. Labour and delivery is hard work and being physically fit can help ease the process. However, it is important to check with your midwife or doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • unusual pain
  • vaginal bleeding
  • dizziness
  • unusual shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • persistent contractions
  • sudden gush of fluid from the vagina or a trickle of fluid that leaks steadily

Keep in mind that it may be possible to resume exercising after experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, as long as you have approval from your midwife or doctor.

The bottom line is this: when possible, make it a priority to fit exercise into your weekly routine during pregnancy. You will feel better physically and emotionally, allowing you to enjoy all that motherhood has to offer to the fullest.

Pregnancy fitness in Amsterdam



YogaYoga (Dutch website): Amaliastraat 5 (ii), Westerpark.
Hart voor Geboorte
(lessons also at Amsterdam-Sloten): Overschiestraat 168, West.

Oud West

Active Health Center: Jacob van Lennepkade 372, 1053 NL.
Mamz! (Dutch website): Wilhelmina Gasthuis Terrein, Ketelhuisplein 45, 1064 RD.


Yoga Garden (Dutch website): 1e Rozendwarsstraat 10 1016 PC


GoldenLink Kundalini Yoga Center
(Dutch website): Den Texstraat 46, 1017 ZC
Pascale Bonnet: Sint Antoniesbreestraat 31F, 1011 HB


Yoga Padma
(Dutch website): Kalkoenstraat 11g, 1022 BA

Oud Zuid

Bewust in Beweging
(Dutch website): Centrum "De Roos" (in Vondelpark), P.C. Hooftstraat 183
Wellbeing Chiropractic: Koninginneweg 217, 1075 CS


Mudra Cursuscentrum
(Dutch website): Ruyschstraat 38, 1091 CD

Weesperbuurt & Plantage

Iyengar Yoga
: Nieuwe Achtergracht 138-H, 1018 WV


Viktoria Kocsis
: Rijnstraat 197, 1079 HE


Zwangerschap Yoga Amstelveen
(Dutch website): Yoga Centrum Amstelveen, Logger 219



Studio Annamora
: Nieuwe Looiersstraat 21a, 1017 VA


The Movement Practice
: Korte Schimmelstraat 16-18, 1053 SZ
Amsterdam Fysio
(Dutch website): Korte Prinsengracht 91, 1013



Het Marnix: Marnixplein 1, 1015 ZN


: Hobbemakade 26
Mirandabad: De Mirandalaan 9, 1079 PA


Sportfondsenbad Oost
: Land van Cocagneplein 44, 1093 NB


Various locations

Mom In Balance
: Amsterdamse Bos; Vondelpark; Flevopark; Ijburg


David Lloyd: Overtoom 557, 1054 LK

Saron van Diemen
/ Amsterdam Mamas / Expatica

Reprinted with the permission of Amsterdam Mamas. 

Amsterdam Mamas is a not-for-profit organisation providing support and information in English for international families in the Amsterdam region and across the Netherlands. From small beginnings on Facebook the organisation has grown into a lively community of more than 9,000 members with its own website, podcast, events and regular newsletters circulating to thousands of families each week. Photo Credit (public domain): Pixabay (soccer mom by TC-TORRES).


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1 Comment To This Article

  • Mindy posted:

    on 5th August 2013, 22:31:19 - Reply

    Great article on prenatal fitness! It's so great that the media is giving more women information on this subject so that they feel safe to exercise while pregnant. We love iphone app Pregnant and FIT and suggest this to our clients as a supplement to personal training because it gives video tutorials on how to perform each exercise correctly.