Common pregnancy irks and how to handle them

As exciting a time as pregnancy is, it can also bring with it a range of physical aches and pains.

But don’t despair. Often, there are measures you can take to alleviate the symptoms within a gym context.

However, if any of these symptoms becomes particularly troublesome, you should check in with a doctor or physiotherapist.


Diastasis recti (aka abdominal separation)

Diastasis recti image Strong Fit Well
Image credit: Girls Gone Strong

During my second pregnancy, it was obvious I had some separation pretty early on – indicated by the slight doming of my stomach during certain exercises.

Many women notice separation in their second pregnancies due to not properly addressing it after their first. I had never heard of it until long after I had given birth the first time.

So what exactly is it?

The rectus abdominis muscles (think six pack) separate during pregnancy, creating a gap that can mean your stomach “pooches” out. It can give the impression of a pregnant stomach even years after you actually gave birth.

Although separation can heal without any extra help by around eight weeks post-partum, it can stay separated if not dealt with.

How to deal with it?

Ditch exercises that place too much pressure on your abdominals like planks and sit-ups. If it makes your stomach dome, don’t do it.

Instead go for exercises that work to draw your abdominals together like a cat cow or a bird dog.

Connection breathing will also help you learn how to activate your deeper abs (TVA) in order to prevent any further separation.


Pubis symphysis pain

Pubic bone Shutterstock Strong Fit Well

This one didn’t strike until I was well into my third trimester but it was by far the most painful of my pregnancy symptoms. The sudden and searing pain kicked in while walking, when I came down stairs, rolled over at night and climbed in and out of my car.

For some women it is so debilitating they have to use a wheelchair, however others are able to continue moving with strategies in place.

How to deal with it?

Exercises that focus on building pelvic stability exercises can be helpful. So go for pelvic curls, squats, pelvic tucks on a Swiss ball.

Ditch single leg exercises like lunges as these will only exacerbate the problem.


Back pain

Back Pain Pixabay Strong Fit Well

This can begin quite early on in pregnancy as the growing baby places new pressure on your spine. It can endure until long after the baby is out thanks to the physical demands of carrying your baby and breastfeeding.

How to deal with it?

Strengthening your core and working on your postural alignment should all help take the pressure off your spine.



Nausea pregnancy Shutterstock Strong Fit Well

This tends to strike during the first and third trimesters but some unlucky ladies struggle with it during the entirety of their pregnancies. Although I had it with one, I didn’t have an issue with the other so it’s also very unpredictable.

But this can be so serious as to have some women hospitalised.

For others, it’s just about coping mechanisms.

How to deal with it?

Listen to your body and do what you need to do. That could mean having a dry snack in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning – try and make sure to have something healthy lying around the house. Ginger tablets and tea can also help.

In terms of working out, identify the time of day when you feel least bleurgh and try and get your exercise in then. You may find it actually helps to alleviate the nausea.


Big boobs

Watermelons Pixabay Strong Fit Well

Hello boys! Bosoms frequently start to swell early on in the pregnancy process – something which can be either exciting or a massive hindrance.

Your back will be under new pressure as the boobs pull you forward, sometimes rounding your shoulders.

How to deal?

It’s probably time to treat yourself to a few new bras just for day to day support. It’s definitely time to get a new sports bra or two to ensure you can still breathe while working out.

Focus on strengthening your back to give those big bosoms a bit more support and to draw the shoulders back.


Varicose veins

Varicose veins Shutterstock Strong Fit Well

Those little purplish-blue worm-like marks that often appear on your legs during pregnancy can be accompanied by aches and cramps.

So what exactly are they? The result of blood pooling, believe it or not.

That happens due to the increase in blood volume during pregnancy (around 50%) combined with elevated progesterone levels which relax blood vessel walls and valves.

Growing pressure on the vena cava also restricts the flow of blood from the legs which can encourage the appearance of these annoying little lumps.

How to deal?

Exercising on a daily basis is the key in order to promote healthy circulation. Brisk walking is beneficial, as are leg exercises like side-lying leg lifts and squats.

Also helpful are muscle pump exercises. Try doing some prances while seated on a swiss ball to encourage blood flow to those lower limbs.


Have you experienced any of these issues while pregnant?


Posted by

Journo turned fitness professional, passionate about helping people to live a healthier and happier life! A long way from London, I now call Sydney home.

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