My favorite prenatal exercise DVDs

It is difficult to underestimate the value of exercise. Sometimes when you are pregnant you have health issues that make it impossible to exercise. But whatever you are able to do will help tremendously with both your birth and recovery and your general well being. If at all possible, find a way to make daily exercise part of your life during your pregnancy. You will be so grateful that you did!

I have tried many different prenatal exercise DVDs over the years. Here are my favorites:

Jennifer Wolfe’s Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Props needed: yoga mat, strap (optional).

This DVD gets my top vote because in addition to building good muscle tone it helps you practice breathing and relaxation, which come in handy during labor. I also love that it has the option for 15, 30, 45 or 75 minutes of exercise. The 30 and 45 minute options were my favorite and I did them most often. The two times I did the 75 minute workout I liked it too, but it is difficult for me to find that much time to exercise on a consistent basis.

The DVD has basic sun salutations with appropriate modifications for pregnancy (upward dog is not a pose that works well with a pregnant belly). It does a lot of lunges and has a good section in the introduction about how to move into a lunge. There are 4 people in the DVD: Jennifer Wolfe leads the workout (not pregnant) and three pregnant yogis behind her show modifications for each of the three trimesters. I give it top marks for muscle building and strengthening, and for getting my blood flowing and my entire body feeling warmed and comfortably stretched. It is physically challenging and I love the relaxation and positive thoughts about birth. The introduction also has some great little tips about good poses and coping techniques for labor.

 

Erin O’Brien’s Prenatal Fitness Fix Props needed: couch, chair.

This is a fantastic DVD. If you are only going to get 1 DVD and you have practiced yoga before and enjoy it, then get Jennifer Wolfe’s DVD. If you do not like yoga then get this DVD. Hopefully you’ll have both; it’s nice to have some variety in your exercise routine.

This DVD has two parts. A 40 min long aerobic workout and a 20 minute strength building workout that you can do with the help of a partner. The aerobic workout includes things like squats, pushups (on the wall or side of a couch), lunges, and ends with some floor work. There is a trailer you can watch on the amazon.com site that will give you a peek. It’s all put together with a easy to follow design and I like her personality and encouraging banter, and that she reminds you to get drinks of water . Great DVD for muscle building and for getting that heart rate way up. I love that she gives several variations of most of the exercises so you can adjust up (or down) as needed. I always broke a good sweat doing this DVD. It felt so good!

My 4 year old and 2 year old loved this DVD because it has some interesting camera work. ( for example: picture goes to black and white for a few seconds, then back to color, a couple times they split the frame so you see 2 or 3 Erin O’Brien’s working side by side).

 

Postnatal Rescue with Erin O’Brien. Props needed: none.

You can get this in a 2 DVD set with the prenatal fitness fix. I like this DVD. It has three segments to start with once you get to your 6 week mark. They are 15 minutes long each and once you finish one you can move on to the next more challenging version. They are very specifically targeted to the muscles that are most affected by birth, and I was amazed how difficult they were when I started them, and then after doing them daily I was so pleased by how easy they were two weeks later. I had a very difficult pregnancy/birth/ recovery with my third birth, and this DVD was so helpful in the recovery. Top marks for being only 15 minutes long (anything longer is difficult to commit to with a new baby), for being effective and realistic. And top marks for a sensitive and kind presentation from Erin O’Brien in the introduction about the challenges of the postpartum period.

 

The Perfect Pregnancy Workout with Karyne Steben. Props needed: hand weights (I’d recommend 3 pounds), a chair, and a step stool (optional, but recommended).

This DVD is a toning workout that gets your heart rate up (not quite as much as the Erin O’Brien Fitness Fix), and strengthens your body, especially the arm, back, and leg muscles. There are some side crunches and modified sit ups as well, and of course a warm up and cool down. The introduction is very informative, and it can be watched in either English or French (the acrobat Karyne Steben is French Canadian). Karyne is the only person featured in the DVD (and she looks 8 months pregnant (or more)), but there are little windows with “beginner”, “intermediate”, and “advanced” options for most of the exercises shown, which is such a nice feature.

This was one of the first prenatal exercise DVDs I discovered, and 6 years later I still like it and use it. It was a great companion through 3 pregnancies and a good help during the postpartum period to help with getting back into better shape.

 

Prenatal Yoga with Shiva Rea. Props needed: yoga mat (optional), chair.

This one is okay, but not that great. Good marks for being relaxing and leaving me feeling moderately stretched afterwards, but I never felt like it elevated my heart rate or challenged me physically. There are three women who show modifications for the trimesters and poor Poppy (third trimester) pretty much sits on a chair the entire workout. There is a massage section to show your partner how to give you a massage as a bonus.

This DVD still does have the benefits of teaching relaxation and breathing, and I always felt better after doing it (even though I didn’t feel I had done much). The stretches definitely do help with some of the aches and pains commonly associated with pregnancy. But this was the one prenatal DVD that I didn’t return to in my postpartum period. If you are still able to walk a few miles and want to maintain your strength and stamina throughout your pregnancy, I’d recommend Wolfe’s Prenatal Yoga, Erin O’Brien’s Prenatal Fitness Fix, or The Perfect Pregnancy Workout way before this one.

 

And of course walking is great exercise for pregnancy. Swimming, water aerobics, or a yoga or aerobics class at a local gym can all be wonderful ways to exercise. But sometime it can be difficult to find the time and means to get out of the house, and I think it’s invaluable to have an option that you can do in your living room.

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