Your Essential Fitness Gear for Each Trimester
Working out while pregnant is no simple feat. There are many reasons to integrate movement into your pregnancy — reducing pain, boosting your mood and energy, helping you sleep better, training up for life with a baby the weight of a large kettlebell — though exercising in a body that is constantly changing demands special attention.
Every week of pregnancy holds its own surprises, which challenge your body in many ways as you move. Here you’ll find essential fitness gear for every step of the way.
The journey has begun! From relentless “morning sickness” (and associated carb-laden snacks) to the existential fatigue weighing down every afternoon, the best health goal for the first trimester is to applaud yourself for any and all movement. Still, there are a few fitness essentials you’ll be grateful for:
- A more supportive sports bra: sizing up on a bustier sports bra is a worthwhile investment for the many months of changing boob sizes during and after pregnancy. A front-zip style, like this lightweight Powerhouse Bra from Outdoor Voices, makes changing simple.
- Knotted tops: traditional maternity workout tees and tanks gather extra fabric for growing bellies within cinched side seams that can bulge and pucker. Rather than investing in something that will only fit well for a few weeks, size up in a flowy, knotted top like this GapFit tank that you can tie more loosely as your bump grows.
- True athleisure pants: does getting dressed to work out count as a workout? Set your intentions with soft, stretchy pants like these Beyond Yoga ribbed joggers that double as loungewear in case you get sidelined by an afternoon nap or bout of nausea. Added bonus: you’ll likely be living in these for the months after baby’s born.
- A fun water bottle: staying hydrated becomes even more important while pregnant because your body needs extra fluids to support baby’s development. That may be why you experience heightened thirst while active, too, so find a water bottle to keep you companion throughout the day. This 40oz Mobot Big Bertha, which cleverly doubles as a foam roller, will do the trick.
- Self-care bath salts: comforting your body is just as important as moving it — sink into a warm mineral bath with soaking salts like these from Honest and you’re likely to feel aches, pains, and stressors dissolve as well.
Hopefully, weeks 13 through 26 bring some relief from the intensity of the first trimester — you may even be missing those sweaty workout sessions of your pre-pregnant life. Though lingering sickness, shortness of breath (strong mama gasping for air three stairs in, we see you), and the aches and pains of a body adjusting to a growing baby are reminders that your pregnant body deserves extra TLC.
- Tunic-style tops: progesterone and the additional blood flow during pregnancy can make you feel extra hot so kickoff workouts in multiple layers that let you optimize for your changing temperatures. Long, tunic style tops and cover ups, like this cozy Madewell sweatshirt, are easy to layer and forgiving of changing proportions.
- Versatile maternity leggings: a dependable pair of activewear leggings that fold under or over the belly, like these from Ingrid & Isabel, will serve you well across nine months of workouts and beyond.
- Adjustable belly band: far from fashionable but very useful, a velcro belly band supports your abdominals and lower back as you move with baby. This accessory comes in handy for minimizing belly bounce during light cardio in the second trimester and just moving through daily life in your third. Those with round ligament pain, lower back pain, or diastasis recti may particularly benefit.
- Pregnancy pillows: restorative sleep is essential yet increasingly difficult when a burgeoning belly can make it impossible to get comfortable. There are many pregnancy pillows on the market to try, though tucking this simple wedge pillow under your belly can help offset the torque of a growing belly while side sleeping.
- A meal planning service: now is the time to both (frequently!) nourish your body and find ways to optimize for simplicity in daily life. Have “second breakfast” at the ready with help from a meal planning service like PlateJoy or food delivery from companies like Thistle or Daily Harvest.
Baby’s birthday is in sight! Everything may feel like a workout while carrying a nearly full-term baby, so opt for a few essentials that offer extra orthopedic support and look ahead to the “fourth trimester.”
- A nursing-friendly sports bra: if you plan to breastfeed, find a sports bra that doubles as a nursing bra for low-impact workouts during the third trimester and as you ease back into fitness after birth. Two styles to try: a stretchy crossover bra or clip-down cup. Be sure your new bra accommodates fluctuating cup sizes.
- Stretchy bike shorts: lower impact workouts like hikes and spin classes make shorts a go-to pick for third trimester workout gear. Lightweight maternity bike shorts, like these from Girlfriend, also feel breathable when those pregnancy hormones heat up your internal temperature.
- Compression socks: keep circulation moving (and help prevent swelling and blood clots) post-workout with compression socks like these from Comrad.
- Slip-on sneakers: proper footwear is always a fitness essential, though well-fitting sneakers are especially important during pregnancy. Supportive sneakers can prevent the impact that extra weight has on your arches while keeping you stable when your sense of balance becomes harder to hold. What makes a pair perfect for the third trimester? No laces! Try a pair of slip-ons like these from APL and save yourself the acrobatics of trying to tie your shoes over a baby who’s far more bump than body.
- Shoe insoles: foam insoles are an easy, inexpensive way to retrofit your existing shoe collection for more arch and heel support.
- Portable fan: those hot flashes strike again. Keep a portable fan handy to clip on wherever you workout, whether bike handles or Zoom screen. You’ll find this doubly useful as a stroller fan to keep your baby cool in a few months.
Give your body extra attention during pregnancy with the time and gear it needs to grow in all the complex ways motherhood demands. Even beyond feeling stronger or more flexible, exercise lets you find a way to feel at home in a body that is constantly in flux. This body is home to your little one and that’s the best “gear” you’ll ever need.
About the Author :
Janice is the founder of Coconut Baby, an app she created while on maternity leave in hopes of bringing more lightheartedness to the pregnancy journey by comparing a growing baby’s size to fun objects.