Gift certificates are back and better than ever!!!!!Purchase gift certificates here!

Training When You’re Pregnant – the 1st Trimester

Month 2 – no bump yet!

Hey mamas and potential mamas! Here’s my take on pregnancy, training, and hauling your butt back up into the air after The Blessed Event – three part series. Hearing the pitter patter of little feet? Let’s get started!

The First Trimester = Your Head in the Toilet

In 2009, I got to suffer through enjoy the miracle that is pregnancy. My pregnancy was super healthy, but my body reacted STRONGLY to the hormones, leaving me with a condition called hyperemesis. This meant that I had the delightful experience of vomiting 6-12 times a day for nine months. FUNZIES! The likelihood of you having a similar experience is very small, but rule #1? Expect the unexpected. Pregnancy is WILDLY different for everyone. Having said that, let’s chat about the changes you can probably expect in the first trimester.

    • Nausea! Around weeks 6-8, you can expect to feel anything from a faint nausea to full-blown head in the toilet fun. The downside? Obvious. The upside? This is a sign of a healthy pregnancy, and 100% normal – it means your body is cranking out those hormones!
    • Swelling! You may start to notice a general “puffiness”, and even a little tummy pooch as your body retains fluids and the uterus expands rapidly to give the fetus room to grow without squishing it.
    • Exhaustion! Your body is working double time to increase your blood volume, and progesterone soars. This means fatigue, and often a general feeling of malais.
    • Super sore boobies! Seriously – like glass. Hormones again!
    • Lots of trips to the potty! You pee a lot, even in the first trimester.
    • Food aversions or cravings! Things that previously smelled or tasted wonderful may now send you running for the loo. I gave up coffee (coffee!) in the time it took to walk into the kitchen and moan, “Ugh! Coffee! Nooooooooooooooooooooo!” I craved anything in a cream sauce. Oh dear….
    • Heartburn & constipation! The peristalsis muscles that move food through your digestive track are affected by hormones too – they slow down, often resulting in more digestive fun.
    • Crazypants emotions! I was completely psychotic – crying over toilet paper commercials, screaming at my husband because he “forgot to put the seat down and does he really want me to fall in and get stuck and be there for hours and lose circulation in my legs and have to have them cut off and then I’ll be the mommy with no legs and…” You get the picture.
    • Happiness! Through all the barfing, peeing, cravings, and crazy, the most wonderful knowing that you will love this little person to distraction, and that you will never be the same.


Training Through the 1st Trimester

First things first! You and your midwife or OB/GYN need to have a frank discussion about your training. This blog post is in NO WAY meant as a substitute for medical advice – I am not a medical practitioner, and I am not advising you to pursue any course of action. What I can do is tell you about my experience, and share what helped me along the way, but you’ve gotta check with your doc!

I was able to train safely throughout my pregnancy (I went into labor while teaching a silks class!), and many, many aerialists with healthy pregnanciesย  have been able to do the same. Here are some things which you may find useful:

  • If you are part of an aerial or circus duo, have a conversation with your partner (ideally BEFORE you get pregnant) about your plans and how it may affect your work. It’s great to have a person in mind who can take your place during your absence so your partner doesn’t lose too much work.
  • To combat nausea, you’ve got about 1000 options (Google it!). Snacking FREQUENTLY on crackers and other dry, tasteless foods may help. For me, the only thing that really did it was acupuncture – worth a try if your nausea is severe!
  • If you’re swollen, but have to perform, Spanx to the rescue! Use two pairs if you need it. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  • Actively schedule more downtime – rest is your best friend.
  • Plan your potty breaks before a show – try to wee 10 minutes before you go out so you don’t encounter any surprises.
  • Find the softest bra you can – try to avoid padded, push-up, or underwire contraptions.
  • Cry whenever you need to. Get crazy, get happy, get dreamy – it’s all part of the ride.

Our first look at Sebastian – boots & rock & roll hand courtesy of Daddy!

And there you have it! First trimester fun! You may have all of these symptoms, you may have none – it’s just one big guessing game. You may find that you feel fantastic! You may find that you feel like you have the flu and have no interest in training whatsoever. Just keep in mind that your body is REALLY good at setting limits now – respect them. Now is not the time to push hard (that comes later), just take really, really good care of yourself. Tune in next time for the 2nd trimester – the happy zone! Love and pull-ups, Laura

As always, if you like this post, share it on your blog, the F-books, Twitter, and wherever else you crazy kids are sharing things these days.


Spread the word. Share this post!

25 comments on “Training When You’re Pregnant – the 1st Trimester”

  1. Rebecca Reply

    It’s true, it’s all true! (15 weeks and counting!). Crackers were (still are!) my friend, and I did have to take breaks more frequently, which I used to talk through my routines to the music to best place dramatic hits, and evaluate form and “oh my gosh – what IS my toe doing?” moments. Having the camera on hand also provided me cover for the break, since I wasn’t ready to tell my training class just yet.

  2. jj Reply

    This may or may not be controversial, but I would say as a *recreational* circus athlete you should stop training aerial when you realize you’re pregnant. There’s a lot of risk there, both for the baby in the case of even a minor fall and to mom in terms of loosening joints and a higher chance for injury. I didn’t have hyperemesis while pregnant, but I had super low blood pressure and would randomly pass out and I wouldn’t want the risk of that in the air. As a professional I know it’s trickier (both because of money and because your joints are probably better trained), and I’ve had an instructor who was pregnant, she just cut back on demos like any good instructor nursing and injury. But if you’re not a pro, then move to ground based training. Handbalancing, flexibility training and even pole work has much less risk of falls. (Although pole might test the safety of loose joints.)

    • Lewitwer Reply

      JJ – I think you were 100% correct to stop training – passing out is a no go! I have to say I’m not a big fan of blanket rules for pregnant women. Every pregnancy is different, every student is different. I would definitely say that training has to be approached with safety at the top of the list. If a student is working well, doesn’t have maternal symptoms (like very low blood pressure) that would keep her out of training, and their doctor or midwife gives the OK, I see no reason it shouldn’t be left up to her.

  3. Gabrielle Reply

    I had every intention of training during my pregnancy, but ended up bleeding and on bed rest. It was hard to let go of my expectations, but I understand that was what was needed to slow me down. All that is over now, but the hormones and weight gain have really affected my balance. My husband had a dream that I was flying and fell and the baby died. I decided it’s just not worth the risk. I’m a recreational aerialist with professional performances one in a while, so flying isn’t essential for me right now. I do still dream about it every night and miss it like crazy.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Big hugs to you, Gabrielle! It is SO HARD to let go of what you hoped your pregnancy and training would look like. I would encourage you to stay involved in your aerial community if you can, even if you can’t be up in the air at the moment. Those times spent stretching on the floor, watching other artists work, and chatting with classmates are so valuable, and can help ease the sadness of separation. Soon, you’ll have a glorious (tiny, and LOUD) addition to the aerial family! Wishing you a wonderfully healthy remainder of your pregnancy, and a blissfully easy birthing. You’ll be defying gravity again before you know it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Rebecca Reply

    One thing that’s helped me to stay involved while away from the fabric for a while (vacation, sickness, studio closure, whatever) is cataloguing my stuff. I’ve made a list of the moves I know, including how to do them, transitions into and out of them, and variations. It’s a good way to keep the brain fresh while the body heals, and is a real help when I get back up there.

  5. Charlotte Reply

    I’m headed into my 35th week of pregnancy and I have been training on fabrics each week. I have had an extremely easy pregnancy so far, the baby seems to love it, it energizes me and I get to be with wonderful people who are so supportive and caring! I only do what I feel comfortable with, I feel like this has made my pregnancy easier to handle and even will help me with my labor and delivery. Yes, I can get tired but I listen to what my body can handle and I always leave class proud of myself. I’m so happy with my decision to keep training while pregnant with you, Laura!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      HOORAY, Miss Charlotte! You look so glorious in the air I simply cannot take it! One of the things that’s so wonderful is how you really just do what feels good & natural, you listen to your body, and move for FUN. For those of you who haven’t gotten to see Charlotte training recently, I HAVE VIDEO! Look for it in the 3rd trimester post. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Alicia Reply

    Please excuse a somewhat lengthy comment, but I am so delighted that you posted this! (I wrote you a few months ago looking for moral support about it). I totally agree with the idea that there are no blanket rules for the preggers among us, and want to throw in my 2 cents. Both in the interest of letting a thousand flowers bloom, but selfishly because there aren’t a heck of a lot of places I can talk about being pregnant and doing silks without having to do a lot of explaining first.

    I am 6 plus months into a plain vanilla pregnancy- no excessive puking and no medical issues that mandate bed rest. I just get bigger and awkwarder, and have less balance and waddle more. This is also my 2nd child, so I know what I’m in for, (which makes it easier, but only sort of). I’d been doing silks recreationally for about 3yrs when I got pregnant, and really wanted to keep it up. Silks keeps me sane – I love the discipline, I love how strong it makes me, and I love the camaraderie. I do pull ups to train and have a good strait leg circus climb, but am under no illusions about how different I am from a professional (I have a 4yr old and a stressful office job – cirque material I will never be), and that did affect how I thought about what it felt ok to keep up. From that perspective, here are the things I found learned during the first trimester while still hanging on fabrics:

    1- its worth talking to your doc in some detail about what silks actually is. If you go to a practice with multiple docs, ask to talk to whomever is most comfortable talking with serious athletes. They are less likely to look at you weird.
    2- weight gain is for real, and it makes silks harder. If you aren’t throwing up a lot, the first three months includes gaining some weight – and in weird places. So now you are hauling more of you up the silk during the window that you are also exhausted. I stopped doing any tricks that involve just holding the fabric (instead of tying in somehow) once I gained more than 8 lbs b/c I didn’t trust my grip w/ the extra weight and since I’m not a pro, I didn’t have time to train to get stronger. But thatโ€™s what made me comfortable- other women may feel plenty confident.
    3- it is very annoying to stop doing, or get worse at, tricks you just love. I didn’t want to do anything that had an abrupt stop after 3 mo, which meant no drops, and I suddenly had a lot more me to try and pull around, which did a number on the gracefulness quotient of everything. That sucked b/c I’d spent so long getting more awesome and graceful and it went away so quickly! I found that training with someone who saw how much time and dedication I had put into getting better helped, but its worth being ready for.

    The upside is that I learned a lot of things that I probably would have never spent time working on if I didn’t have to readjust. It taught me a lot about balance, alternative entrances to tricks, and transitions between wraps and poses that I hadn’t ever thought to try before. It also kept me sane and healthy. I kept it up until just a few weeks ago (I am just too off-balance at this point) but kept it up through most of the 2nd trimester too. But I will wait until you post on that :).

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Amazing input, Alicia!!!! So many great points (I’m sitting here going, “YES!!!” to my computer screen)! I really love what you said about the silver lining of working on other moves or transitions you might have otherwise foregone. So glad your pregnancy is wonderfully vanilla and that you were able to find ways to train! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. @CircusofHumaniT Reply

    Laura, I’m so happy you’re posting about this! Thanks for heeding the requests! I imagine arms get really strong during pregnancy training and tricks stay quite low.

    • Lewitwer Reply

      Yes – it’s SUPER challenging pulling up 40+ extra pounds! ๐Ÿ™‚ Tricks do stay quite low – the extra weight and the bump make it hard to climb. Lot’s of things done from low foot knots, getting into crucifixes on the ground & just lifting the feet a bit, etc.

  8. Chrissy Reply

    Thank you so much for this post. I will be looking forward to the continuing discussion. No one at my studio (that I know of) has trained while pregnant, so I have no metric. I’m training for a trapeze performance in April, and husband and I are trying to time a pregnancy with an upcoming move and subsequent break in work for me. I’m worried about getting pregnant before the performance, but I also kinda wanna get started (tick tock ^.^). Though I know pregnancies can be pretty unpredictable, it’s still heartening to read positive experiences!

    Some babies fly before they walk!

  9. Eli Reply

    I wish I had this post to read last year! I couldn’t seem to find anything on the Internet regarding circus while pregnant. ALL 3 of the aerial teachers where I worked got pregnant within a month of eachother. I was super inspired by the previous instructor who had been able to invert while 8 months pregnant but I was the one who had to sit out because my ligaments loosening, plus my flexy back equalled my tailbone popping out of place and getting stuck at around 3 months. (physical therapy ended up being able to solve it) but I felt so sad and out of the game. All around me people with babies in then were still teaching! It was so frustrating! But my body said NO. Everyone is different and has to do what’s right for them. All of us had healthy babies and got right back to it, but we had lots of people telling us it was a terrible idea, and basically endangerment. Even doing handstands. I think if you use a little common sense and a lot of listening to your body it will all work out. I had a doctor who told me I should avoid stretching as it might make me bleed. (yeah right, switched asap) pregnant again now and taking it easy, but hoping to teach add long as possible! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Danielle Reply


    I know you cannot tell me from a Dr.’s perspective what I can/cannot do but here is my question. I do not have my first prenatal appt until i am already 8.5 weeks pregnant. As of right now I feel completely fine! no nausea, just a tiny bit more tired. I performed Friday and felt good. I trained last Monday on hammock and did everything everyone else did in our 2 hour class with Terry Beeman (if you know of him you know what kind of intense i’m talking). I taught 8 Aerial silks classes last week, all went fine.

    MY question: Is there things I should be avoiding that may harm the baby? eventhough my body may be telling me I’m fine? wheel down? drops? kip over to stomach on hammock, etc?

    Thanks so much, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      I’m so sorry for the late reply, Danielle! I got this while I was traveling and it fell right off my radar – fail. ๐Ÿ™ My best advice is to listen to your body closely, and be conservative when faced with gray areas. It was recommended to me that I avoid getting my body temperature really high (working out hard in hot weather, for example), pay close attention to discomfort, and honor my fatigue. My midwives were great about encouraging me to do what felt good and right for my body. Their biggest caution was that pregnancy is not a time to try to break your records, top your personal best, etc. Drops felt fine for me until about 10 weeks, then some felt weird so I stopped. Hip keys, etc felt funny months 3-4, but once my bump was really pronounced, I could place the fabric lower and they felt fine again until around month 7-8. Just go day by day! Wishing you a fabulously healthy and happy pregnancy! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Aerial dance PC Reply

    Love this Laura! I’m currently 6 months prego and still teach everyday. I can’t hip key anymore and now that I’m starting to waddle more and more I tend to stay close to the ground. I will say the hardest part of pregnancy and aerial is the “know it alls”. Ive had so many people tell me how harmful it is for me and my baby to be so active. My doctor knows what I do and is constantly telling me how healthy we are. Thank you for the blog.

  12. Marise Reply

    Hi ladies
    I’m so glad I found this forum. I’m only 8 weeks preg with number 2. I’m a professional dancer but only practice aerials recreationally. I really wanna keep my strength up but I’m actually most afraid of class in 1st trimester because that is the danger zone. Any jolting movements like drops are risky from what I have researched and it’s gonna be difficult to find an excuse not to do them in class (I only share that I’m preg after 16 weeks). Once im in trimester 2 ppl will understand that if all I do is climb for the whole class it’s ok. But what to do about this tricky first trimester. Did any of u do drops etc in ur first trimester? I’m pretty fit and healthy and will be dancing and had a trouble free first preg but wasn’t doing silks then so I’m a bit afraid. Would love some input. Thanks!!

    • Lewitwer Reply

      From an anatomical standpoint, the fetus is well-protected – it’s very small, and surrounded by a great deal of cushion-y fluid. I personally felt comfortable doing drops for the first 3 months, particularly low-impact drops. That said, you have to do only what you feel comfortable with!!! If you decide to continue aerial training, there are a couple of things to consider:

      1 – does your coach have any training or experience with pregnant students or has she trained herself through a pregnancy?
      2 – there are ways of letting a coach know without officially letting the cat out of the bag. You can let him or her know that you’re having some “personal body issues”, and need to train more conservatively for a while. Any sensitive coach will respect that!

      As long as you consult with your doctor or midwife, and move at a pace that feels right to you, you’ll find a way to train. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Marise Reply

        Thanks so much for the reply. I will definitely listen to my body but it’s very comforting to hear how you approached your training in the first trimester. And I’ll have that chat with my coach too

  13. Josi Reply

    First of all, thank you all girls for sharing your experience, it’s very helpful. He’s my personal experience as a recreational aerialist, if that can be of any use to someone. I had my first baby three years ago and I trained lyra during the 1rst trimester. Everything was fine, but I had to stop when I wasn’t able to reach up and grap (where dit those abs go?!) and my grip wasn’t reliable anymore (I once felt, luckily on my feet from a very low point – that was it for me). I resumed training two months after delivery and it took me a year to be fully back to where I was. Few weeks ago, I was pregnant with my second child, and strongly wanted to keep on training (I’ve become addicted to silks!!). So I did silk once, at 5 week pregnant, doing drops but only the smothest ones. I carefully monitored how I felt and stopped way before anything felt wrong. But a few hours later I had abdominal cramps (I’ve had them before, so I didn’t worry at first). The next morning I started bleeding and miscarried. Was it because of the training or was this going to happen anyway… I’ll never know. But what I know is that I’ll be more careful next time, I don’t want to be risking this again.

  14. Kristin Reply

    I am so glad I found this site, I am about 5/6 weeks pregnant and was starting to prepare for my first performance at Aerial Expo in a few weeks. I have only been doing silks for about 4.5 months. I talked with my doc and she said it was ok to continue to train for it but she didn’t know what silks were. I have told my instructor and the people at the expo just to be safe, but am still going back and forth trying to decide if I should perform or not?? This is my first pregnancy (took about 7 months to get preggers) I don’t want to jeopardize this pregnancy in any way but so far ive felt ok to practice. Any thoughts?

    I’m not doing any unsupported inverts or drops in my routine btw…

Leave a Reply to Danielle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *