Is It Safe to Do Squats While Pregnant?

pregnant woman exercising at home in a squat

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It's no secret that exercising when you're pregnant is good for both you and your baby. It can reduce some of your symptoms like aches and pains, improve your blood circulation, manage your weight gain, and help you sleep.

"Exercise is extremely beneficial in preparing the body for labor, delivery, and postpartum," says Amanda DeGrace, a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor who specializes in pre-and postnatal wellness. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant people get 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week.

However, not all workouts are safe during all nine months of pregnancy, so it's perfectly natural to have questions about whether certain exercises—such as planks, crunches, or squats—are indeed safe to do while pregnant. The good news? Squats are safe for most people to do during their pregnancy.

Why Are Squats Safe?

"Squats are extremely safe for most pregnant people, and also highly recommended," says DeGrace, because they can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Squats also improve hip mobility and improve blood circulation to your whole body—all things that help prepare your body for labor.

"Squatting [is] an actual birthing position," says Carrie Pagliano, physical therapist and spokesperson for the American Physical Therapy Association. Some people end up squatting during birth because it helps open up their hips and relieves pain and pressure on their back.

"Squats are functional movements. We have to squat to sit on a toilet or pick up items off the floor," she says. "[They] shouldn't be fearful movements."

Reasons You Shouldn't Do Squats

There are a few rare contraindications for doing squats while you're pregnant. That's why it's a good idea to always discuss your workouts with your OBGYN if you have any concerns.

  • Placenta previa
  • Short cervix
  • Cervical insufficiency
  • Previous knee, hip, or back injuries
  • Certain high-risk pregnancies

Are Squats Safe for All Trimesters?

The short answer is yes, though some pregnant people may find squatting more difficult toward the end of their third trimester because their center of gravity has shifted and they have additional stress on their spinal joints.

That's why it's not a bad idea to have someone work out with you, just in case you lose your balance or need some assistance for any reason.

Third-Trimester Modifications

To help keep your balance during later trimesters, you can adopt a bit of a wider stance or use a chair or table for additional balance support.

"When exercising during pregnancy, it is common to need to widen the stance in many exercises to make room for the changes within the pelvis, and room for the growing baby and belly," DeGrace says. "When exercising during pregnancy, you want to be mindful of any deep twists and modify as needed."

You can also reduce the depth of your squat (scale it down to a quarter or half squat) if you are finding it difficult to get up from a squat in your third trimester.

Precautions for Pregnant People

Squats are not dangerous to do while you're pregnant. However, when you're working out while pregnant, there are always some precautions you'll want to take.

For example, it's easier for your heart rate to rise quickly while you're pregnant, especially if you overdo your workout or push yourself too hard, so keep these general safety tips to keep in mind.

Watch Your Technique

Make sure your technique is correct when you're doing your squats, especially while you're pregnant:

  • Your spine should be in a neutral position.
  • Your chest should be up.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor.
  • Your knees should be pointed in the same direction as your toes (in other words, don't collapse them inwards).

If you're unsure about your form for any reason, talk to a personal trainer or fitness expert.

Take It Easy

Take your workout slowly and take each movement in a controlled, measured way. The hormone relaxin causes your ligaments and joints to loosen up over the course of your pregnancy—so it's really important that you don't overstretch and accidentally injure yourself.

You can try bodyweight squats, sumo squats, supported squats, deep squats, and chair squats. But you might want to wait until after your baby is born before doing weighted squats if you aren't used to them.

Don't Forget To Drink Water

It seems obvious, but it's really important that you don't overheat or become dehydrated while you're pregnant. So keep that water bottle nearby—and drink up before, during, and after doing any kind of exercise.

Signs of Dehydration

  • Dizziness
  • Racing or pounding heart
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Small amounts of urine

Listen to Your Body

Be sure you're comfortable with the depth of your squat so you don't lose your balance, especially in the latter part of your pregnancy. Remember that you know your body best, so if something doesn't feel right, take a break.

"Pregnant people should always connect in with themselves, and listen to how their body is feeling as things can change quickly during pregnancy." says DeGrace.

"If a pregnant person is feeling short of breath, dizzy, or nauseous, these can all be signs that they should stop their exercise routine and connect with their healthcare provider," she adds.

You should also stop—and call your healthcare provider—if you experience any vaginal bleeding, pain, or contractions.

Other Pregnancy-Safe Exercises

Squats are safe—but if you're just not feeling up to doing them, there are still lots of other exercises you can do while you are pregnant, including some that are a little easier in the third trimester.

"Walking, water fitness, and spinning are great cardio alternatives for pregnant people," says DeGrace. "As are circuit style or interval training, which challenge cardiovascular and muscular endurance."

She also suggests yoga, as a great alternative for maintaining muscular endurance and strength, as well as stability within the body.

A Word From Verywell

Unless your healthcare provider has told you otherwise, squats are a great exercise for you to do while you're pregnant. They're not only safe, but they're also incredibly beneficial to your body as you get ready to give birth because they strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Just be sure to not over do it and never stop listening to your body. If something doesn't feel right, or you experience alarming symptoms, take a break and check in with your doctor.

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  1. Hinman SK, Smith KB, Quillen DM, Smith MS. Exercise in pregnancy: a clinical reviewSports Health. 2015;7(6):527–531. doi:10.1177/1941738115599358

  2. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). Exercise during pregnancy. Published July 2019.