This has been my first pregnancy so it’s an understatement to say I have learned a lot on the job. As much as you may (or a lot of the time, may not) feel like the same person you were before, pregnancy can throw some curveballs your way.
Which brings me on to how my relationship with exercise changed during the pregnancy.
Pre-pregnancy I was a pretty committed gym-goer. Don’t get me wrong, it was definitely a necessarily evil but I was doing 3-4 high impact classes (Body Pump, Body Attack, Circuits) a week and exercise was a great outlet for pent up work stress.
For me, the first trimester was a wipe out. Kind of like I’d run head first into a brick wall. The tiredness was another level to anything I’d ever experienced. Then there was the change to my eating habits – everyday I took a healthy salad to work and everyday it ended up in the bin, replaced by a good old fashioned cheese sandwich and a packet of crisps. During the first trimester I survived on the highly nutritious food groups of bread, cheese, butter and crisps. I’m surprised I didn’t get scurvy. No surprise that at this stage exercise was a 100% no go. Dragging myself from the sofa to bed at 7pm felt like a marathon. I didn’t give exercise a single thought.
Then hello you, LOVELY second trimester. Something changed overnight. Not only could I face greens again without a huge wave of nausea, I was actually craving them. I also felt desperate to get back to the gym and was starting to feel a little more like the old me. In reality it took a while for me to catch up to the fact that exercising in exactly the same way I did before didn’t feel quite right. With a bit of trial and error I found a formula that worked for me – a combo of swimming and modified Body Pump classes (always consult your instructor) that helped me feel active (enough), physically stronger and like I was having *some* control over my *slightly* erratic hormones.
At the start of the third trimester I was still full of beans, but from around week 30 I felt my body slowing, ready for a change of pace. I wanted to feel as fit as I could but everything just needed to be that bit slower. I carried on for a while but eventually dropped the Body Pump and cut back my lengths. I also added some pregnancy yoga which was great for stretching and relaxation and if there’s not a class near you there are some fantastic classes on YouTube.
This was my experience, but the most important thing is to just do you. Follow your gut, listen to your body, don’t compare yourself to others and never feel guilty. Whatever you decide to do, it’s about feeling positive and strong, mentally and physically, for you and your little one.
This is what I learnt along the way:
- Swimming became my saviour (aqua aerobics definitely did not = I’m still embarrassed)
- You can still lift weights, just speak to a professional about sensible adjustments
- Non-pregnancy specific Pilates and yoga weren’t for me – I felt too conscious of which positions were ‘ok’ and couldn’t relax (if you’re already experienced I’m sure you’d feel differently, or try pregnancy specific classes)
- I was out of breath, a lot
- Some days just walking to the shop is enough. And that’s ok.
- Finding maternity gym leggings can be a pain in the backside (no pun intended)
- I felt like a legend when I completed a class
- I celebrated the fact I had an excuse not to do sit-ups (or that’s what I told myself)
- Listen to your body and follow your gut
- Exercise or not – do what makes YOU happy!