A greater number of women have pre-existing conditions when getting pregnant and are unaware of how conditions may hinder their pregnancy. Depending on the condition, you can be at greater risk of having a miscarriage or having a premature birth. Another possibility is the baby gaining an excessive amount of weight to the point it can disrupt the child’s breathing.

Some common pre-existing conditions include:

unnamed-2Sara Haley is an AFPA Pre and postnatal exercise specialist, mom of 4 and an ACE Certified personal and group fitness trainer. Having worked with a number of prenatal clients, along with her own pregnancy journeys, Sara offers her expertise on the following conditions below.


According to the CDC in the United States, about 1% to 2% of pregnant women have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition, roughly 6% to 9% of pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes.

Diabetes is a pre-existing condition to pregnancy that is different from gestational diabetes that can occur during pregnancy. It’s important to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Your doctor may have different recommendations depending on what type of diabetes you have.

According to the CDC in the United States, about 1% to 2% of pregnant women have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In addition, roughly 6% to 9% of pregnant women can develop gestational diabetes.

“If you have diabetes prior to pregnancy, it is essential that you keep your blood levels under control. The good news is that exercise can help with this. Because you are considered high risk with diabetes, I recommend sticking with low impact exercises and following modifications when they are offered. Low impact cardio options are anything from a stationary bike, elliptical, walking, or swimming. As for strength training stability balls, free weight and band exercises are all great options. Prenatal-specific programs, like my Pregnancy Workout Essentials Collection, will serve you best,” shares Haley.

Other things to consider include keeping glucose levels in a normal range and exercising during pregnancy has so many additional benefits!

High Blood Pressure

Unfortunately, one condition can lead to another during pregnancy. Diabetes and gestational diabetes can often lead to high blood pressure during pregnancy. One way to combat this is through movement. Sara recommends checking with your doctor about an exercise regimen if you have high blood pressure and are pregnant.

“Research shows that exercising during pregnancy can be helpful if you have high blood pressure because exercise makes your heart stronger, so it can pump blood more easily. Thus, the force on your arteries decreases and lowers your blood pressure.  The key is to be consistent with your exercise routine, so you continue to keep your blood pressure down.  My exercise recommendations for high blood pressure are the same as for diabetes because high blood pressure and diabetes can sometimes come hand in hand,” says Haley.

One of the biggest concerns for a pregnant woman with high blood pressure is the higher chance of developing preeclampsia. High blood pressure is one of the warning signs of preeclampsia along with protein in the urine.   


One of the alarming concerns of asthma during pregnancy is the decrease in oxygen in the blood. This essentially means less oxygen is reaching the fetus putting the baby at risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and/or poor growth. In addition, you have an increased risk of high blood pressure with asthma, which can lead to an increased risk of preeclampsia.

“Once again I would have the same exercise recommendations as above, including checking in for approval from your doctor. I would also recommend using the ‘Talk Test:’ while exercising: if you can talk out loud and hold a conversation with someone you are most likely exercising moderately and in a safe place. As I would recommend for any pregnancy, be very mindful while you are exercising, so you can help prevent any preexisting conditions from becoming worse. If something doesn’t feel good don’t do it. Listen to your body,” Sara emphasizes.

Haley concludes by recommending that when possible, aim for being fit and healthy before conceiving in order to prevent or decrease the risks of having diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma during pregnancy.