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Should you do aerial while pregnant?

We interviewed four aerialist mamas who shared their pregnancy and postpartum experiences, fears around aerial and pregnancy, and advice for aerialist mamas-to-be.

Pregnancy and aerial: can the two go hand-in-hand? How long can one do aerial while pregnant? Is it SAFE to do aerial while pregnant? How long does it take to be able to do aerial again postpartum? Will pregnancy mark the end of my aerial journey?

Whether you are thinking about having a baby, are already a mother, or you're an aerial instructor, there are many questions that come up and not many aerial-specific answers, so we decided to ask the experts:

Uuve @uuve | Mom & Cirque du Soleil artist

1) Did you have any fears about how having a baby would affect your abilities in aerial?

I was pretty optimistic and I knew that it wouldn’t affect my aerial abilities to get pregnant, my only fear was the amount of time off I would have to sacrifice when I decided to have a baby. Not being the youngest anymore, it’s scary to know when is the good time to have a baby. I was always conflicted in my head if it is better to focus on my career as an artist for as long as possible, or to have a baby and try to come back to performing after being pregnant.

2) How far along were you before it felt like it was too much to continue with aerial?

My initial thought was to continue doing aerial as long as possible while being pregnant, but I felt pretty quickly that my body was changing a lot and I didn’t feel so safe and comfortable being in the air. I was scared I was going to fall or harm the baby and didn’t feel it was worth the risk. So instead I started to dance at least 6 classes a week, jazz and Hip-hop, on top of that I hiked almost every day. I danced my last class just a couple of hours before my water broke, and I hiked the evening before my baby arrived. Staying active and strong throughout my pregnancy was probably the best thing I could do for myself, didn’t gain much weight and my delivery was so easy.

3) How much time did you take off post-baby and how did you feel coming back?

I wanted to start training immediately but my doctor wanted me to take 6 weeks off completely to heal. I started to go for long walks and doing mini exercises at home, eventually, I started doing more aerial conditioning and today I feel almost the strongest I ever felt in my life. The problem now is just to find time to train and to be full time with the baby. My priorities have definitely changed. It’s hard to find a balance with my career and being a mom.

4) Any advice/tips for aerialist moms to be?

Listen to your body!! Your and your baby’s health comes first. It’s just a short time of your life you will be pregnant so embrace it and enjoy the ride, time will fly and just before you know it you will be back in the air again, stronger than ever and with so much more respect for what your body is able to do.

Meet Jasmin @nimsajnay | Mom, Aerialist, Lawyer

1) Did you have any fears about how having a baby would affect your abilities in aerial?

Yes! I definitely had fears about how pregnancy and childbirth would prevent me from doing the things I used to be able to do and that I’d never be able to do the skills or regain the physical strength I had pre-pregnancy. As someone who had danced most of my life and had a relatively active lifestyle, not being in control of my body (and gaining over 50 pounds) was very foreign, unsettling, and honestly horrifying at times. Knowing that years of training and conditioning were going to be put on hold and that my strength would atrophy was also frustrating.

2) How far along were you before it felt like it was too much to continue with aerial?

I continued taking classes (modifying more and more and eventually no longer inverting by the end) until around 32 or 33 weeks.

3) How much time did you take off post-baby and how did you feel coming back?

I took 6 weeks off before attempting my first class. I felt like I was starting over from Day 1 and felt like I had lost a lot of strength, but with each passing week, I started to feel more and more comfortable in the air and was eventually able to do all of the things I used to do pre-pregnancy.

4) Any advice/tips for aerialist moms to be?

Be kind to yourself, listen to your body, and not to compare yourself to other people.

During pregnancy, I think because aerial is relatively new and a lot of doctors aren’t familiar with it, they might not have applicable or relevant advice (other than stop doing aerial) and there is not a whole lot out there online. While I was pregnant, at times I felt weak, tired, and off-balance and I had to remind myself that there was no need to push myself to my absolute limits the way I would have automatically done when I wasn’t pregnant. I also found myself being more cognizant of safety and making sure that I was not overly fatigued and to be sure that I could safely execute skills.

I would say I was pretty much able to train normally during my first trimester (although that trimester is often when people feel the most fatigued and nauseous). In the second trimester, I started modifying more (I stopped doing drops that would end abruptly and preferred a windmill to a star drop) and generally started to avoid things that constricted the belly area. By the third trimester, I was keeping skills low to the ground and towards 32/33 weeks, it felt pretty impossible to invert.

I think the most important advice I have is to listen to your body. If you are tired, now is not the time to really push it. If certain things don’t feel comfortable (I think a lot of people suggest laying off meathooks as you progress in your pregnancy), there is no need for you to do it. I think being pregnant is a good opportunity to try to work on things like artistry or performance because although you will be limited in terms of your strength and the types of things you can do, you can still make your training time meaningful and valuable. On the plus side, a lot of people find that they are more flexible during pregnancy because of relaxin, a hormone that increases during pregnancy that makes some people bendier.

Post-pregnancy, I would say to be patient when it comes to regaining your strength and fitting back into your old clothes. You see all these stories about actresses and models regaining their pre-pregnancy bodies 6 weeks after giving birth and walking the runway in the Victoria’s Secret show 8 weeks post-baby and that is just not a healthy or realistic goal for most people (who do not have the type of lifestyle or the resources that allow them to work out for four hours a day while someone else takes care of their baby). I had gained over 50 pounds during my pregnancy (I weighed more than my husband!!!) and was disappointed that it all didn’t magically disappear once I delivered the baby. But eventually, with each passing week, I felt stronger and like I was able to do more and more.

Be kind to yourself post-pregnancy. Most of your time in the early days of your baby’s life will be spent taking care of your baby and you will have radically different priorities than your pre-pregnancy self. You are likely fatigued from not having slept more than an hour at a time and you might not have been able to use the bathroom or brush your teeth or eat a real meal all day because you have been looking after your baby. Make it a priority to take a break and do something for yourself (and for me, sometimes it was an aerial class, but sometimes it was just to take a much-needed nap). When you do go back to class, try not to compare yourself to younger and child-free classmates who did not stay up all night with a screaming baby, and just be grateful to your body that it was able to house, grow, and deliver another human being and be grateful that you are healthy and able to be present at class that day. The rest will take care of itself, I promise!

Meet Stefani @riseaerialdance | Mom, Studio Owner & Massage Therapist

1) Did you have any fears about how having a baby would affect your abilities in aerial?

Definitely; I was just starting to make this shift from only focusing on teaching and running my business to actually training for my own advancement when we decided to make our baby. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what is and isn’t safe for pregnant women and a lot of it is built around this fear mentality and the fact that there’s a lot of unknowns. There’s really no advice that can be given because every situation is different. But the one thing I have learned from my friend who is certified in pre/post natal fitness is that you’re not really looking to make gains once your pregnant. You should basically be operating at 75% (or less depending on the day) of your max pre-pregnancy, which is easier to calculate for weight lifters and really subjective for aerialists. I took this to mean that I should never feel like I gave it my all but instead that I simply maintained my current skill level for as long as possible.

2) How far along were you before it felt like it was too much to continue with aerial?

About 6 months in I quit practicing altogether. I had imagined I would be the one to go into labor while teaching a class but alas that was not my journey! In hindsight I wish I could have had a team much earlier on in my pregnancy and then I could have done less for longer. I had a plan to go from a one woman operation to a 3 person aerial team the year I got pregnant so that I could eventually step away for maternity leave but that plan didn’t go into action until I was already about 5-6 months along and I was basically in survival mode with my business from 5 weeks when my worst symptoms started. I dragged my very sick and lethargic body to work every day despite the fact that I knew deep down that I should have been resting more. I got hit very hard in the first trimester by all the hormones and because I was barely making it to class I actually stopped all personal training and conditioning in favor of more rest, which unfortunately led to some structural problems by the time I was in my 2nd trimester.

With relaxin in my system I basically sped up the process of what it would be like for an aerialist to only train one side of their body and the injuries that occur from that. I was only teaching with my dominant side and then not practicing outside of my classes which led to some pretty bad structural hip pain. This eventually made teaching/practicing impossible for me at 6 months along. I went into physical therapy which was able to alleviate it and correct my twisted hips but it’s a constant job at this point because of the damage I did. I’m still working with my PT as I make my way back into the air.

3) How much time did you take off post-baby and how did you feel coming back?

I’m currently 9 weeks postpartum and I have yet to leave the ground. I’ve done some shoulder shrugs and some inner core work to help heal the diastasis recti that I got from carrying such a giant baby. (Side note: just because you use your core in aerial does not mean you’ll automatically get diastasis recti (splitting of the abs beyond the normal amount). Don’t be afraid to continue training inversions and inner core work if they feel okay to you. You’ll know when it’s no longer a possibility, trust me. If my baby hadn’t been so large I doubt that I would be dealing with this diastasis but that was literally the thing I heard about most when people would bring up the topic of my continued aerial training. Again, you’re the professional, you know your body. Just do you’re own research and trust yourself.

I’m currently traveling Thailand and my stamina is improving but that’s definitely going to need some cross training when I return. Not everyone will have this experience, my pregnancy was pretty textbook awful as far as every bad symptom you could get and my daughters birth was really intense with some complications that I’m still healing from both physically and mentally. Also because I tend to do too much, (like re rigging my whole studio at 4 weeks PP and going on a trip across the world at 7 weeks PP...I’m not the best at taking it easy) I unfortunately have made my healing time last longer than it probably needed too. Rest is super important even when it feels like it’s not! Just take all the naps for as long as possible!

4) Any advice/tips for aerialist moms to be?

Listen to your body. Go with the flow of your symptoms whenever possible and don’t let your stressors lie to you and convince you that all the things have to get done exactly like you think they should. Everything will be okay. I promise. Accept the changes as they come and celebrate the amazing feat your body is now performing even when it means you can’t do all the things you’re used to doing. If I could take my own advice I would have been much better off throughout my whole pregnancy both emotionally and physically.

Furthermore, on the flip side, you know what you can handle and if you’ve been training aerial professionally for years, then your ‘safety factor’ is going to look and feel a lot different than ‘Suzie’ who works a desk job and whose hobby is reading, you catch my drift?

Pregnancy is a time where everyone likes to project their worries and advice on you with no context of your situation and while that may make you want to punch them in the face, just smile and let it go. You know what’s best for you and your body.

I was teaching rotation drops (nothing too jolting or extreme) and inversions all the way until I could no longer teach. I performed 3 separate occasions when I was 4 and 5 months along. It didn’t feel great physically but it felt amazing emotionally to know my own capabilities and trust my body to build this baby while still doing what I love. Maybe eat less cake than me (my sugar cravings were out of control) because my baby was 10 lbs 6 oz and getting her out was NOT the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. But thanks to my aerial training I knew that nothing was impossible and I delivered her all natural even when the odds were against me. You do you mama. Your journey so the only one that matters in the end.

Meet Gigi @mrs.gigid | Mom, Aerialist, Hairstylist & Makeup Artist

1) Did you have any fears about how having a baby would affect your abilities in aerial?

Omg yes. It was my first pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect or what my limitations would be. I didn’t know what was safe, what wasn’t and it seemed that anytime I turned to a doctor I was given no answers. I was also fearful for how difficult it would be to get back to aerial after baby.

2) How far along were you before it felt like it was too much to continue with aerial? I was taking classes and teaching up until about 21 weeks. I modified where I felt I needed to but stopped my normal aerial activity around 21 weeks and ended up switching my physical activity to aerial yoga which I did up until 36 weeks.

3) How much time did you take off post-baby and how did you feel coming back?

I probably took off at least 3 months. My birth was difficult and I had some complications with blood pressure and swelling so my recovery lasted longer than I had anticipated. And in all honesty I’m still working on getting my strength back (my daughter is 18mo).

4) Any advice/tips for aerialist moms to be? Take it easy and listen to your body. Know your limitations and be safe. As hard as it is to rest, do it when you feel needed you are working very hard and are amazing!!! You got this, Mama 🥰


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