There are plenty of sites with information about why it's important or beneficial to exercise during pregnancy and how to do it safely, but what most fail to mention is how your exercise experience might change from one trimester to the next. Or from one day/week to the next. While every woman's experience is different, here is what I have noticed over the past 30 weeks.
As someone who has enjoyed exercising (running) since 7th grade, and in the past 6-8 years moved to more weight lifting, it was a bit of a challenge when I had to stop doing anything but walking for the first 12 weeks. This was due to a uterine hematoma and then ofcourse morning sickness. I'm usually a get-up-and-go to the gym kinda gal, but for about 10 weeks the thought of moving my body before 9 or 10am was not happening. There were many mornings when I would wake up, make Ryan's lunch and then take a nap before work. If the first trimester has you feeling sluggish, nauseous, or generally crummy, just go with it. For most women it gets better. Do what you can to stay physically active even if it is just walking or very gentle stretching.
By 12 weeks there was a definite shift and all of a sudden I had ENERGY! I wanted to lift and was able to go back to my 1-2x week morning yoga class. HURRAY! For the next several months I followed the weight lifting protocol from the 'Your Fit Pregnancy: Nutrition & Exercise Handbook.' As a dietitian I ignored all their nutrition advice which continues to tout the low fat recommendations on the 1990s and includes almost exclusively chicken and turkey which I found repulsive until about 15-16 weeks. But the workout plans have been great. I also found that I really enjoyed doing intervals on the elliptical to get my heart rate up, but around weeks 29-30 I no longer enjoy this. It just doesn't feel good anymore. .
As I enter the 3rd trimester I'm continuing to change my workout routine. Walking feels really good in the morning when it's cool out. However, I do have make sure there is a bathroom along the way. When Ryan and I walk at night my belly just feels really heavy and it's harder to breathe. I'm also very particular about making sure my shorts are long enough the my thighs don't rub together. This is not about vanity! Its just not enjoyable to have your upper thighs rubbing together when it's hot and humid and you are walking more than a block or two. Lifting weights is still enjoyable, but I'm really having to make changes to my yoga practice since there are so many poses that just don't work this far into pregnancy. As you can see from my picture, even at 27 weeks I was able to do inversions at yoga, this past week I stuck with the headstand machine since I no longer trust myself to actually get into the position correctly. It's amazing how much heavier my body feels. While doing step ups the other day, I was amazed at how hard they felt with 15# dumb bells when in the past I would have used 20#. The past two weeks I've re-discovered the TRX and have found it to be very conducive to my changing body shape, weight, and function.
What to Wear
Not only will your workouts change during pregnancy, but your workout clothes probably will too. I've been able to wear a lot of my old stuff, but now my old 5K t-shirts ride up and my sports bras haven't fit since the end of the first trimester. My old Lululemon tank tops have lots of stretch to them, and still fit. I currently love these maternity active capris from Target. These shorts from Old Navy are also really nice now that it's hot and humid out. Even though the high waist/belly covering looks kinda silly, the small amount of support it offers is really nice. Theses yoga nursing bras by Bravado have been great for the kinds of exercise I do. I love how they fit, and will probably try some of their other styles once Baby T arrives. If I were still running or doing lots of bouncing...I'd want something with more support.
Would love to hear from people on what their favorite maternity exercise clothes are and what exercises work for them and make them feel good.
As of this past week I am officially 23 weeks pregnant. Ryan and I also celebrated our 8yr anniversary and coupled it with a "baby-moon" to the North Shore for some hiking. As much as I hate to admit it, pregnancy does actually make hiking slightly more difficult. I think the most challenging part was not being able to take a big deep breath anytime I wanted to. It also felt like I got worn out faster than I typically would.
Before leaving it dawned on me that I had no pants that would fit while hiking. Thanks to Motherhood Maternity I happened to find a pair of light-weight pants with the giant maternity waist band and wore them for two days. It was nice that the were so light weight and breathable and they convert from capris to pants. The only draw back was that they would start to sag a bit in the crotch so I had to keep pulling them up or the very tops of my thighs would rub together.The problem was most noticeable if I had my fleece zip up tied around my belly. Obviously, these pants were not made for hiking, but they got the job done, and will look cute the rest of the summer. If I were to go back, I'd probably just pack a pair of yoga/athletic stretch pants and wear those instead to avoid the issue.
I'm a dietitian with a passion for good nutrition, bold flavors, playing in the dirt, and being with my family.