Guides: 1st Trimester

Pregnancy is a time where a woman's body goes through major physiological, emotional and anatomical changes. The added weight, hormonal changes, fluid retention and ligament laxity make even the fit woman realize she is not in her "normal" non-pregnant body. Exercising during pregnancy can help the mother-to-be cope with her bodily changes in hopes to minimize any significant discomfort that may occur during the pregnant period. Three major factors need to be addressed to make a prenatal exercise program complete: good posture, abdominal strengthening, and pelvic floor strengthening. Pilates, therefore, is an ideal method of training for a pregnant woman being that these factors are integral in the method. In addition, it is advised in Pilates to emphasize breath, focus and awareness.

During the first trimester, the focus is on establishing a routine that will see the expectant mother through the rest of the pregnancy. Exercises will specifically work to correct positioning of the spine, strengthen abdominal muscles, stabilize the pelvis, and become well-acquainted with the pelvic floor muscles. This is a time when you want to start becoming aware of your body and its stregnths & weaknesses. Pilates will help you to do this, enabling you prepare your body for labor. And for the exerperience of carrying a child. During this trimester, youw want to establish a routine that will both stregnthen, stretch and prepare your mind for the changes to come within.

Is it safe to start pilates while I'm pregnant?

Absolultey you can do pilates. Even if I haven’t done pilates prior to pregnancy? Yes, believe it or not, starting Pilates when pregnant is an excellent idea. It is a healthy and safe exercise regime to do while pregnant. If morning sickness is a problem, in some instances you may want to wait until it passes. Pilates will still be there when you feel better. Although, it is ideal to start Pilates in the 1st Trimester, it can be started at any stage and still be completely safe.

What if I don't feel up to exercising?

Its going to happen, you will be fatigued, maybe nauseous, as long as you can move, you should try to exercise. (If you are bedridden this is obviously not an option for you.) When you are feeling tired and irritable, if you can put that aside you really are better off doing something, you can actually feel better once you get up and moving. Just be sure to keep it simple and light. Which is why Pilates is a perfect exercise to practice while pregnant. If practice at moderate paces, you can experience all of the benefits of cardiovacular exercise, but non-jarring and easy on your joints and stretching ligaments. If you absolutely feel horrible, and cannot perform a full routine, then perhaps, give three minutes to yourself and practice a very simple Pilates prenatal exercise...such as pelvic rolls and deep breathing.

Pelvic Roll

This basic exercies, such as sitting on a ball and breathing, rolling your ball forwards and backwards, perhaps round and round...gently stretching your lumbar spine and creating pelvic and hip awareness and flexility.

Learn more exerices to do while pregnant.

First Trimester 0-12 weeks (Establishing A Routine)

Physical symptoms - tiredness, nausea and sometimes vomiting may be present, some body changes- breasts larger and more tender. Some weight gain. There will be an increase in urination at this time.

Areas of Focus In 1st Trimester:

  • Neutral Spine
  • Extension of Thoracic Spine
  • Flexion/Extension of Lumbar Spine
  • Transverse Abdominals Stabilization
  • Oblique Strengthening
  • Pelvic Floor Toning
  • Pelvic Stabilization

Psychological symptoms - excited, fearful, fluctuating emotions.

The fetus is about 6 to 7 centimeters long, weighs a couple of ounces and looks like a miniature human being. It has some reflexes. The heartbeat can be picked up on ultrasound by six weeks.


One of your body’s most obvious and unpleasant signs of pregnancy is morning sickness. Many women feel nauseous or actually are sick during the first trimester, probably thanks to sky-high hCG hormone levels. After 12 to 14 weeks, things gradually get better, although a few unfortunate mums-to-be might feel sick throughout their entire pregnancy.However, there are ways to alleviate the nausea. Try the acupressure wristbands that are on sale in chemists or, alternatively, ginger in any form might help,’ says Helen. Some alternative therapies, such as acupuncture and reflexology, also have good results on morning sickness. While some sickness is unfortunately to be expected, if things are really bad, you should see your doctor or midwife immediately in case you’re suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum, which means, literally, ‘excessive vomiting in pregnancy’. It’s most common in early pregnancy and needs medical attention, as you’re at risk of dehydration.

1st Trimester Fetal Development

  • Week one: date of last menstrual period
  • Week two: ovulation and conception
  • Week three and four: missed period and implantation. (Implantation may cause some spotting which may confuse some women as to whether they have a period or not)
  • Week five: central nervous system forming
  • Week six: arms and legs forming. Brain and major organs forming
  • Week seven: muscles developing. Eyes forming
  • Week eight: ears, bones and mouth forming
  • Week nine: fetus starts to move- not felt by mother. Tooth buds appear.
  • Week ten: heart functions at basic level. Lungs forming
  • Week eleven: head is about Yz the size of the body
  • Week twelve: nose, lips and chin forming. Toes and fmgers formed
  • Week thirteen: placenta completely formed.

If you look at this list, you realize how important it is to know if someone is trying to get pregnant. By six weeks the fetal brain is developing and it is at this stage that some neural tube defects may occur. Some causes for this have been linked to being overheated during vigorous exercise. Not a problem with Pilates unless you also include a cardiovascular section to your routine. Most women do not realize they are pregnant until about week eight. By then the fetus is almost fully formed.


During this trimester, the focus should be on establishing a routine that will see you through the rest of the pregnancy. Work for correct positioning of neutral spine and abdominal strength. Make sure you have a good understanding of working the pelvic floor. Work the gluts to stabilize the pelvis.

If you are new to Pilates- start out with breathing and flexibility and then move on to stabilization of the pelvis and spine. If you have been working with this for a while, you may continue with your routine if you feel up to it. You may still work in the supine position "lying on your back" if you are comfortable.

Musculo-Skeletal System Changes

  • Collagen and connective tissue change
  • Muscle tone changes Diastasis Recti
  • Postural Changes
  • Cardiovascular system changes
  • Blood Volume Incresase
  • Cardiac Output Changes
  • Blood Pressure Changes
  • Iron Defiency
  • Respiratory System Changes
  • Mechanical Change
  • Functional Change
  • Basal Metabolism Changes
  • Hormonal Changes (Relaxin, Estrogen, Progesteron)

Other Changes:Appetite Changes Carpal Tunnel Syrome Muscle Cramps Sweat and Sebaceuous gland changes