Doctors encourage most women to continue exercising throughout pregnancy to keep their bodies strong and healthy. Your exercise routine can safely include pushups in most cases, although you might need some modification. Even if you've never done pushups before, you can add them to your pregnancy workout by starting out slowly.
Get the Doctor's OK
While exercise is important during pregnancy, every woman's situation is different. Before starting a new exercise plan or continuing an existing one, describe the exercise, including pushups, to your doctor to make sure the exercise is acceptable. As a bodyweight exercise, pushups usually get the doctor's OK, but he might request some modifications as your pregnancy progresses or if you're new to pushups. He also might request a lower number of repetitions and give you cues on when to stop, such as pain in your lower back.
The traditional pushup position has you on the floor with your body lifted, with only your hands and toes touching the floor. Your hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and you move only your elbows to lift and lower your body, keeping it straight from your neck to your heels. Instead of starting with this type of pushup when you're pregnant, go for wall pushups, which also work for advanced exercisers in the later stages of pregnancy when your belly might interfere with the traditional movement. Stand with your feet together about 2 to 3 feet from the wall, then place your hands about shoulder-width apart and at shoulder height on the wall. Bend your elbows to lower your body toward the wall, keeping your back straight. Push back up until your elbows are straight. When you're ready for more of a workout, get on the floor on your hands and knees, with your back straight in between. Lift and lower just as you would with traditional pushups; when your belly makes a straight body impossible because it hits the floor before your chin, lift your hips slightly for the modified pushups.
Pregnancy doesn't just affect your belly. It changes elements throughout your body, including loosening ligaments. This is meant to relax the ligaments in your pelvic area so the baby can come out easier, but there's no way to target just one area. Your wrists could be affected by this, making it painful to hold them flat on the floor when doing pushups. Instead, make a fist with each hand and put the top of your fists on the floor or the wall for pushups. This makes the movement a little harder, but it takes the pressure off your wrists.
Tips for Your Pushups
Pregnant women can become dehydrated quickly, so drink plenty of water during your pushup workout. Doing small sets is best, such as sets of five or six repetitions, so you can take a break and drink some water before doing another set. When you're just starting a pushup workout, smaller is better -- shoot for only one or two pushups at first, and build up to two or three sets. Listen to your body carefully -- even if you've been doing pushups for years, the change in your center of gravity can lead to back pain or other uncomfortable sensations while doing pushups. Stop immediately if something feels off, and don't do any more pushups without consulting your doctor.