Inger Houghton was nine months pregnant and lifting some serious weight, telling, “I stayed active for my entire pregnancy. Luckily I had a good pregnancy without any major problems, so it didn’t feel like a struggle to keep active.” 

And when she says that she kept active, Houghton was deadlifting, doing kettlebell swings, and pullups — documenting it all on her Instagram @IngerinDubai. Her goal was to maintain her fitness level as much as possible during the pregnancy while knowing that she had to gain weight, since that is an important pregnancy aspect. “Being strong would help me cope with the changes the pregnancy made to my body, and also prepare me for giving birth.” 

Our expert Melissa Paris, NASM PT, CES, Pre/Post Natal, co-founder of mom-based fitness program BYOBfit, agrees that being strong throughout a pregnancy is beneficial. “Working out during your pregnancy has so many benefits for mom and baby. Exercise helps the mother maintain a healthy weight as well as aide in a better recovery. It’s also great for releasing positive endorphins for mood improvement, improving sleep, strengthening areas of the body that moms really need post pregnancy, improving circulation, and reducing constipation,” Exercise is also said to be great for the developing fetus because they may have less excess fat, decreasing chances for an overweight childhood, accord to studies.

During her pregnancy, Houghton told that she made sure to listen to her body, so she wasn’t always hitting the gym if she didn’t feel she was up to it. As her belly grew, she did find it difficult to lift heavier and do certain exercises like pullups. In general, Paris recommends pregnant women avoid any exercises that involve twisting motions, anything that causes pain, and anything that would put one at risk for falling. Exercises like skiing, box jumps, plyometrics, full situps, and certain yoga practices should be avoided (prenatal yoga with a certified instructor should be fine). 

Twenty-days post-partum, Houghton shared a snap of toned abs, saying that she quickly dropped the 30 pounds she had gained during the pregnancy, a combination of fat and muscle mass. Her daughter Kaia was born right around the holidays, making an appropriate amount of room for sweets. 

Though she didn’t work with her, Paris says she thinks Houghton looked great during her pregnancy, but reminds readers that, “It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and not compare yourself to others. Being a mom and trainer myself there are days when you need to rest, there are days when you need to just bond with the baby, and that’s okay! Take each day one at a time and focus on the end goal not the day to day obstacles!” Houghton is doing just that, spending time with the baby and hitting the gym when she feels up to it.

Remember to always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program, especially if you’re pregnant or recently gave birth.