I’m 30 weeks pregnant (yay!), and let me tell you, it has been a journey. But pregnancy also comes with these micro journey; like your food journey, your adjustment to peeing all the time journey and, for some, a fitness journey.
Fitness has always been a big part of my regular routine, so it would be reasonable to believe that working out wouldn’t be an issue for me during pregnancy. However, fitness is one thing that I have REALLY had to work for during my pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant, I knew right away that I would continue to go to as many of my favourite classes as possible and modify what I needed to as my belly grew. But I quickly learned that my fitness journey during pregnancy would have to continue with no expectations, or it wouldn’t continue at all.
Pregnancy is different for everyone, which is so important to recognize. I would sit on my couch with a plate full of carbs and scroll through Instagram during my nausea-infused first trimester checking out all the fit pregnant babes who somehow maintained their rock-hard abs throughout their pregnancy. In between mouthfuls of spaghetti, I’d think; “Mmmhmm, yea, that could be me.” LOL. Not a chance.
Before pregnancy I was fit. I followed a Whole30 eating plan every now and then and otherwise maintained a healthy eating regime with a few indulgences. I went to different fitness classes ranging from boxing, HIIT classes, boot camps, barre, Pilates on speed and spinning. The more challenging the better! And I had every expectation of keeping this pace up for the whole 9 months. That would be my fitness journey during pregnancy.
During the first trimester and about half of my second trimester, not much changed for my fitness routine. I also continued to eat well (P.S. there’s no such thing as eating for two during pregnancy and pregnancy is (sadly) not a free pass to fully indulge…unless you’re interested in getting gestational diabetes) I was definitely exhausted and felt sick 24/7, but I loved working out so much I still looked forward to it. I did my usual classes and stayed away from gyms that offered classes in small rooms that were high impact and would heat up quickly. It was great. Sure, I was tired, my sports bras barely fit my boobs and I had to pee all the time while working out – but I didn’t really have to change much other than avoiding jump squats and crunches (primarily because jump squats threatened my bladder to misbehave and I didn’t want my abs to separate from the crunches).
And then, one day I experienced round ligament pain. If you have never experienced this before, let me paint you a picture: think about what it might feel like to get stabbed in the hip and then have whatever stabbed you pulse for a little while. That’s it. That’s round ligament pain. It was just after twenty weeks or so and it gave me a little setback. At this point, it was very obvious to the unknowing that I was pregnant. Aside from the RL pain, at this point in my pregnancy, there were several classes I didn’t feel comfortable participating in anymore. For starters, going up a set of stairs was becoming challenging for me. For someone who had the endurance of the Energizer Bunny, this was pretty upsetting. I could no longer keep up with high impact classes and I felt discouraged and uncomfortable when I had to ask my instructors for modifications. I felt like I really stood out, and I didn’t like that. Going to classes were no longer exciting and fun for me, but instead, they left me feeling frustrated. In terms of prenatal classes, I found a lot of gyms only offered prenatal classes during the day while I was working, so that wasn’t helpful at all. It was time to make a change to my fitness routine to accommodate my pregnancy. I suspended my ClassPass membership, and myself and my always full bladder went to my condo’s gym to work out in solitude.
Monitoring my heart rate become important and I found a heart rate of 140 was the sweet spot – I could hold up a conversation (if I suddenly felt the urge to talk to myself in the gym) and I could work up a nice sweat. I swapped boxing and running for a fast-paced walk on an incline on the treadmill. I traded boot camp in for weighted squats, bicep curls and other toning exercises are done at my own pace when I felt ready after work. Because the reality is, when I get home from work, I’m tired, my back hurts, sometimes my stomach feels tight and I’m generally uncomfortable. Not having the pressure of making it to a class on time really alleviated stress and allowed me to relax and go to the gym when I was ready.
My workout routine now is nowhere near the rigorous one previously enjoyed, but it’s enough to make me feel good and refreshed. The best thing to expect during pregnancy when it comes to fitness and any other lifestyle routine at that is to have no expectations at all. Do everything in stride and follow the famous wise words, “listen to your body.”
For me personally, I’ve been working out long enough to know how to modify things and target specific muscle groups. However, there are some sources I have been following for a healthy pregnancy that I recommend:
Sarah’s Day: a lifestyle and fitness YouTuber who is also pregnant. She shares her journey with eating and fitness related to pregnancy, which is really great to follow as inspiration for pregnancy well-being. The Book, The Whole 9 Months is AWESOME and I loved the healthy recipes and tips! I often use Tone It Up and otherwise, I sometimes resort to Pinterest for do’s and don’ts regarding exercises during pregnancy, if I’m unsure about a movement that is safe or not.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Caitlin Melvin)