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Prenatal Series: Fitness in the Third Trimester

Fitness in the Third Trimester

In this series Merrithew® Master Instructor Trainer Laureen Dubeau takes a look at prenatal fitness through the lens of STOTT PILATES®.

In the last trimester of pregnancy (27–40 weeks), all physical changes are becoming much more noticeable, and some movements may be uncomfortable. The changing centre of gravity may cause some balance issues. Energy levels may fluctuate changing from more than normal to less than normal. Some positions should be more comfortable than others (similar to second trimester) and constant modifications must be made to ensure the safety of the mother and baby. As the pregnancy gets further along and approaches full term (40 weeks), some other considerations are in order.


  • No exercises in the supine (lying on the back), or inverted (hips higher than shoulders) position after 20 weeks (the inferior vena cava which transports blood back to the heart may be compressed by the growing fetus)
  • Exercises can be performed with the shoulders elevated above the hips, sitting, standing, kneeling, side-lying or quadruped (hands and knees)
  • Balance exercises can be performed, but ensure there is something stable to hold on to
  • Be aware of Braxton Hicks contractions (practice contractions), fluid leakage, pain or bleeding
  • Exercises should focus on combating postural changes, maintaining adequate blood flow, particularly in the hands and feet to prevent swelling

Exercise: Quadruped Rotation with Soft Dumbbell

Starting position:

On hands and knees, knees directly under hips, hands directly under shoulders, spine in a neutral alignment, one hand holding Soft Dumbbell in fist.

Movement 1

  • Breathe in to prepare
  • Breathe out and reach arm with dumbbell out to side, keeping elbow straight
  • Breathe in to lower arm down
  • Repeat 10-12 times on each arm

Movement 2

  • Breathe in to prepare
  • Breathe out and reach arm with dumbbell out to side, then reach up toward the ceiling, opening up the front of the chest and looking up toward dumbbell
  • Breathe in to return to face the floor
  • Lower arm down
  • Repeat 10-12 times on each arm

Additional Exercise Options

Lower & Lift on Stability Chair, Spine Twist, Back Rowing Preps on Reformer

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