Can you do Handstands during Pregnancy?
If you don't do handstands, or have never worked on your handstands, this might seem like a crazy question. Why? Isn't it dangerous? Couldn't you fall?
But if you practice handstands regularly and are confident on your hands, you might feel really upset about having to stop... and you might not have to.
Most people will tell you a resounding NO, and many of my trainees have told me that they were told to stop in their pregnancies... but like the proper answer to all good questions, it starts with "it depends"... And a few more questions.
Were you doing handstands before pregnancy?
👐 This definitely isn't the time to start, but if you're already confidently doing handstands, know how to fall (this is the most important part), feel confident upside down, don't feel at all dizzy, do it regularly and enjoy it - it might be a shame to stop doing it.
I had a solid 30 second hold before getting pregnant - and you should have quite a bit of control if you want to continue doing it.
How pregnant are you? And how big is the belly?
This is me doing handstands around the 4 month mark
A little over a month later, and the handstand situation had deteriorated somewhat to this:
As the belly gets bigger, your centre of gravity changes, you gain weight, and all the muscles and joints supporting you on your hands (in your hands, arms, shoulders... not so much your "core")... all this together makes it much harder to find that sweet spot in the air.
I personally stopped doing handstands altogether around 6 months - my balance wasn't as good as before, but what really got me was the kicking up part of the movement - it felt too explosive - it didn't feel right once I had a belly, as though I could pull something. (I continued doing headstands into the 9th month though).
Does it feel good?
👐 Some women feel dizzy upside down. Or maybe you just don't feel comfortable with it now you're pregnant. Totally legitimate reasons to stop.
Do you have any pain?
👐 Do your wrists hurt? Do you have a pain in your neck? Is the kickup starting to feel like you're going to tweak something?
Do you WANT too?
👐 Even if you CAN and you don't want to for any reason, you shouldn't. It's not necessary. There are plenty of other things you can do (that are more suited to pregnancy). The point is if a woman DOES feel controlled, and good and ENJOYS doing handstands, she will probably be fine to continue for some time into her pregnancy. There's no reason to stop the moment you get the positive pregnancy test.
At the same time, it's unlikely that you will be able to keep going on your hands right to the end. Some women have incredible control, and incredible balance even in their 9th month. They almost certainly had a really solid hold for well over a minute before pregnancy, and practiced consistently throughout. Let's finish this post with some myth busting...
❌ It is not dangerous. It's not dangerous to be upside down. It's not dangerous to have your head below your hips. One does not simply fall on one's belly (if one practices handstands regularly). You learn how to fall and you fall in a very predictable way. Again, don't try to learn this skill in pregnancy because you probably WILL fall... but if you've already learnt how to do it, there's no reason you can't carry on.
❌Handstands do not raise the heart rate that much, and even if they did, this isn't as much of an issue as we once thought during pregnancy for TRAINED women.
❌ There is also nothing wrong with doing handstands on your period. If you want to. Again, if you don't want to do inversions for any reason at that time of the month, you shouldn't
❌ You can do it during your first trimester. It will not increase risk of miscarriage. (On that note you can do exercise in general during your first trimester). But again, if you don't WANT to, you don't need any excuse other than "it doesn't FEEL right for ME"
A couple more benefits of handstands:
Going upside down takes weight OFF your pelvic floor, giving it a much needed rest
Doing exercise and MOVING in ways you enjoy will make you feel good, which is important for your mental health
It will keep your wrists and shoulders and arms strong for when the baby comes
This post won't be relevant for everyone, but if you love handstands and WANT to do them and fit all the above criteria, go ahead! Pregnancy fitness isn't JUST about the strictly functional stuff. It's also about your mental health (exercise always is). It's about keeping you doing the things that keep you feeling like you... it's important to always put your and the baby's health first, but it's important to not stop doing things that will not harm you or the baby (and may even benefit you both).