All righty friends, now that you know our journey to get pregnant…how’s the actual pregnancy going? I’ll break it up into a couple of posts so today we’ll focus on my physical activity and workouts while pregnant and I’ll do another post all about nutrition.
With my first pregnancy, I pushed too hard in the first trimester running and ended up with a misaligned pelvis that hurt so bad and made it difficult for me to do much during that pregnancy. I walked a few times a week and lifted mayyybe once or twice a week. I also ended up on bedrest the last month of my pregnancy and wasn’t allowed to even vacuum, much less go for a walk or lift weights. All in all, I was in pain for most of my pregnancy and didn’t maintain my fitness level like I wanted. After going through all that, I knew I wanted this pregnancy to look differently. I wanted to maintain some muscle and stay active throughout, even if that didn’t look like my traditional weight training and running pre-pregnancy.
If you’ve ever been pregnant, you know the first trimester is all about survival. I felt very sick this time around (as I did with my first) and even reading a book would make me dizzy and nauseous. I lifted maybe once a week and ran maybe twice a week during the whole first trimester. I also did yoga probably about once a week as well. There was a lot more resting on the couch and just trying not to throw up. There was one day I went down to the basement to do a short walk on the treadmill and I looked at the treadmill and visualized myself walking and had to hold onto the handrail because I got a dizzy spell and felt nauseous just looking at the treadmill…needless to say, I didn’t walk that day. This was a hard pill to swallow as I know I lost a lot of the muscle I’d worked so hard to build over the last year. I also was a little more nervous this time around because we were lucky to even be pregnant so I wanted to take it easy for a couple months. Oh and for everyone wondering…yes, I definitely ‘popped’ and showed earlier this time around. I didn’t really have a bump with my first until 18-20 weeks…at 14 weeks this kiddo was saying hello!
Example of first trimester workout (as you can see, fairly high intensity still and using weight on everything):
Weighted Walking lunges 24x total
Pushups 12x (no need to modify yet)
Back squats 12x
Shoulder press 12x
Lat pulldown 12x
Leg ext 12x
Kettlebell swings 10x
Power lunges 20x total
Ah, the blissful second trimester. With my first, I was injured and felt sick and fatigued well into the second trimester and never really came out of that completely. So I never understood why people called it the best trimester, but this time around…hello energy and fitness again! Around 11 weeks I started to feel more like myself and less pukey all the time and by 13 weeks I was definitely out of that nauseous haze and had much more energy. I set a goal to lift 3 times a week and do yoga 1-2 times with a few runs thrown in there for fun. I was able to keep up this schedule fairly easily until about 17 weeks, when I had to stop running. The impact and pressure on my round ligaments and my back was too much so I listened to my body and switched to walking instead of running. This was super hard. I love running. Love. It. It’s pure stress relief and it pushes me to my limits and I just feel good doing it, so stopping it was very difficult BUT I didn’t want to end up injured like I did with my first pregnancy, so I listened to my body and it was such a good thing. I was able to continue doing full body lifts 3 times a week as well as mow our lawn regularly. I know mowing the lawn doesn’t sound like much, but we live on half an acre and most of it is grass. It takes about 3 hours to mow it and I’d do it over 2 days, so for me it really felt like a workout and it felt great to be able to continue doing something so active while pregnant. All in all, my second trimester really felt great and was so different from my first pregnancy. It wasn’t until the end of this trimester that I really started to feel those aches and pains that often accompany pregnancy.
Example of second trimester workout:
Weighted walking lunges 24x
Pushups 12x (started modify around 13/14 weeks when the pressure on my abs felt too much)
Weighted glute bridge 12x
Lateral raises 12x
Leg ext 12x
Followed by 30 min walk
Around 30 weeks, I had to stop mowing the lawn because my back was starting to feel more pull and strain on it and my pelvic floor was feeling much more pressure. I started going to my chiropractor regularly (something I didn’t do with my first pregnancy and should have!). That has helped SO much. I strongly encourage any pregnant mamas who have aches and pains to go to their chiro and get adjusted or some deep muscle work done because it really helped the pain be manageable. I have reoccurring sciatica that pops up every once in a while and pregnancy definitely aggravates it. I also started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist regularly because it felt like little Cashew was going to just fall right out. I wasn’t aware of even what the pelvic floor was during my first pregnancy so I didn’t know how to strengthen it or care for it, but this time around I’ve been much more proactive about strengthening it. Turns out, I may have done too much. I was having a hard time actually relaxing my pelvic floor and it was always feeling tight, so I started working with my PT and have a few exercises I’ve been doing to help keep my PF be strong not just tight. I started being very consistent about stretching and yoga which has also helped with aches and pains. Now, at 34 weeks, those aches and pains are definitely rearing their ugly heads more often. My sciatica hurts every day, all day. Some days it’s manageable and others I’m limping around. I had an ultrasound last week, and little man was right down on my pubic bone which shows me why my pelvic floor and back are feeling so much pressure and pain currently. I know it won’t last forever and I’m grateful to even be pregnant, but I also can’t wait until I don’t have daily pain from this pregnancy. I’m still lifting 2-3 times per week, doing yoga 2-3 times per week, and walking a few times a week. I’ve shortened my walks to 15-20 minutes, as anything longer is too much for my back and pelvic floor. I’ve also stopped doing any lunges or squats in my programming. I’ll do squats up against a wall with a stability ball but even air squats with no weight is too much for my pelvic floor currently. I’m trying to focus on moving in some way every day and staying active while maintain some muscle. Sleep is also a little harder to come by these days. Cashew loves to have dance parties up against my bladder at 3am which is lovely and keeps me awake for a few hours at a time. I’m also having restless legs every night before going to sleep, which I never had with Madeleine and while magnesium lotion has helped with leg cramps, it doesn’t seem to do anything for my RLS. All apart of the beautiful journey of pregnancy, am I right?
Example of third trimester workout (much more modified to account for pelvic floor and sciatic issues):
Bicep curls 12x
OH tricep extensions 12x
Shoulder press 12x
Ball wall squat 12x (no weight, very slow and mindful about what muscles are working)
Leg ext 12x (these are isolated, and about the only lower body workout that doesn’t touch the posterior chain)
Glute bridge 12x (these don’t always feel good on my back, but when they do, I do them)
As you can see, my workouts for each trimester change slightly. First trimester, not much is modified or changed except frequency. Second trimester, movements that put too much pressure on my abdominal wall are modified to avoid/limit diastasis recti (separation of abdominal muscles). Third trimester, for me, I need a lot more modifications here. No weight when working lower, posterior chain as it agitates my back too much, and more focus on upper body. No lifting and walking on the same day as it’s too much for my back and pelvic floor. Even walks are only 15-20 minutes long.
Things I’m making sure to be aware of currently….
How is my back feeling? Am I strong enough to do any lower body work today, or do I need to stick to upper body?
No frontal pressure on my abdominal wall. My abs are still together (which might change over the next 5.5 weeks until delivery) and I would like to keep them strong. Some separation is totally normal, but I’m working hard to make sure I’m not putting too much stress on those muscles directly so they stay as close together as they can.
How does my pelvic floor feel today? Do I need to forgo a walk and focus on kegels instead?
All in all, I’m working hard to stay active but not too active. It’s a fine line to traverse and some days I miss the mark and do too much (it’s my nature…I’m not good at slowing down). With 5.5 weeks left until my due date, I want to take advantage of this slower time, soak up my time with just Madeleine, while working to be strong for delivery. Pregnancy is no easy task but I’m trying to savor this time before little man comes.
Stay tuned next week as I dive into my nutrition during this pregnancy.
Until next time!