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What Exercises to Do in Third Trimester to Help Prepare for Labor (Episode #11)

So often, during the third trimester of pregnancy, people stop working out.

A lot of moms are in conservation mode, feeling the weight of the baby on their pelvis. They’re fatigued, uncomfortable, lacking motivation, or they’re afraid, not sure what movement is safe for them and their babies.

But it’s important to keep moving in the third trimester – just at the right pace, with the right intensity.

This is Part II of our behind-the-scenes look at the fitness program we created for the Daily Burn, an on-demand fitness platform. Baby Bump and Beyond features 30 unique workouts filmed in the Daily Burn’s New York City studios.

(If you’re still early in your pregnancy, be sure to check out our previous episode about adapting workouts for your second trimester.)

Today we hope to remove the challenge of staying in motion by talking about exercises you can safely do at the end of your pregnancy – and what’s more, how these exercises can prepare you for birth.

Incorporating birth preparation into workouts

In Nicole’s pregnancy, even after entering her third trimester, she still wanted to MOVE. She found a lot of prenatal yoga classes she attended to be too sleepy.

While writing this fitness program, she kept this in mind, while also incorporating birth prep exercises into these workouts – opportunities to practice positions, breathing mantras, or positive thoughts you can use for birth.

We spent four months preparing, writing, practicing, and filming the workouts, and we put into this program everything we know about what it takes to stay strong and feel connected and competent in pregnancy.

If you are preparing for birth, we highly recommend listening to episode 7, Six Essential Mindset Shifts for Birth Preparation and Avoiding a Traumatic Experience.

Third trimester: symptoms and pillars

In the third trimester, you might be moving slower and experiencing ligament pain, hip pain, glute pain, back pain, sleep discomfort, pulling on the pelvis, acid reflux, shortness of breath, and diastasis recti.

You might be saying, why even bother working out?

But instead of focusing on what you can’t do, try focusing on what you CAN.

Here are the pillars for third trimester workouts:

  • Weekly workout ratios should be two stretching and yoga to one strength and cardio.

  • Continue to focus on the core and pelvic floor.

  • Take the things you learn in your childbirth education classes – breathing, positions, building stamina – and incorporate them into workouts.

  • Prepare for postpartum during pregnancy. The most successful women we see during postpartum were thinking of recovery during pregnancy.

Exercising during the third trimester

  1. Minimize diastasis and pelvic floor dysfunction. If you keep these muscles working during pregnancy, they’ll help in the pushing phase of a vaginal birth.

  2. Minimize hip pain. In your third trimester workouts, you want to see a preference for neutral leg positions over externally rotated positions.

  3. Maintain stability. During this period, you’ll see more exercises offered with both feet on the ground.

  4. Maintain leg strength for birth and upper body strength for postpartum. Working on strengthening your hip muscles will be helpful during birth, while upper-body strength will help counteract all the lifting after the baby’s born.

  5. Maintain a range of motion to prepare for postpartum. This is for feeding the baby, putting the baby to sleep, picking the baby up, etc.

  6. Condition the body for labor. Build strong legs, hips, and core, and practice breathing awareness and muscular endurance.

  7. Condition the mind for labor. Consider developing mental positive anchors, mantras, etc.

  8. Prepare for the pushing phase of labor. The pushing phase of a vaginal birth requires a very specific pelvic floor core and breathing coordination.

If this feels like a lot to take in, don’t worry – we’ve got you. You can always listen to this episode again! But we also invite you to come along and practice with us in the Baby Bump and Beyond program on the Daily Burn.

Notable Quotes from Nicole & Kendra

“I think back to when I was pregnant, and all the classes I took that were filling my head with information. Very few of them gave me opportunities to practice positions and breathing and mantras, or just positive thoughts that I might use in birth, so this was our chance to integrate those elements into this very comprehensive fitness-based program.”

“So often during the third trimester of pregnancy, we tend to see people stop working out. They move less and less because either they're really uncomfortable, or they're more fearful of movement. When really in the third trimester, we need to keep moving – but at the right pace and the right intensity. What we're talking about today is helping you remove the challenge of staying in motion in these later stages of pregnancy and make it easy for you to truly prep for birth.”

Resources & Links

Looking for support to stay active during your pregnancy? Here are some options to get you started on a great path forward:

1) Take the Pelvic Floor & Core Strength Quiz. After taking the quiz, you'll get a score and based on your results, guidance on what steps to take to move you forward in your recovery.

2) Check out our podcast listening guides: Download the Pregnancy Listening Guide or Postpartum Listening Guide.

3) If you're pregnant, want to be way more active than you have been, AND want connection with other mothers, but don't know where to start…join the Expecting to Flourish™ Membership - a mom-driven and expert-guided virtual space empowering moms with a new approach to prenatal fitness and birth prep that actually prepares you for the physical and emotional hurdles of motherhood.

4) Do you prefer working one-on-one, or have a high risk pregnancy, a severe diastasis or leaking that won’t quit? You might be a candidate to work with us privately. To find out, take this quick self assessment! If you qualify, you'll be invited to schedule a complementary Postpartum Strategy Session with us where we'll take a good look at what's not working in your repair process, and come up with a great plan just for you.




Since Devoted Mamas' founding in 2017, our mission is to help you through all the stages of motherhood - stay super strong (and calm!) during pregnancy, be the BOSS of your birth, and help you bring life back to your core + pelvic floor in postpartum.

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