Working Out While Pregnant: My Story

by Kim on March 3, 2012

When I first got pregnant, I hoped I’d be one of those people who continued to work out throughout her pregnancy. I knew it helped keep pregnancy weight gain under control, improved your body’s ability to endure labor and to labor successfully, and, of course, it was just as important for your health as it is when you aren’t pregnant. But since this is my first pregnancy, I also didn’t know what to expect.

The first trimester was a pretty big blow to my confidence. I was exhausted and unmotivated, and also extremely (to the point of irrationally) afraid of spontaneously losing the baby early on. Everything I read told me that as long as you worked out regularly before you were pregnant, you could continue during pregnancy without concern. But I’d heard some horror stories, particularly from one friend whose doctor suggested she stop exercising for awhile after several miscarriages. I’d also heard that you were supposed to keep your heart rate below 150, which I was pretty confident I didn’t do while running. So I would actually try to run more “carefully” (picture something closer to gliding) and would stop to walk even when I wasn’t even remotely winded. The paranoia was hard to overcome or ignore (and not difficult to use as an excuse when I was crashing on the couch for a nap after work every day!).

The second trimester was better. My energy returned, the pregnancy was progressing fine, and I started feeling confident again. I started going to Body Pump classes at the gym more regularly (2x a week usually) and did the elliptical, bike, and simple strength training in between. I’d never been a huge elliptical/bike fan, but running just wasn’t as comfortable as it used to be with my growing belly, the constant bladder pressure, and most annoyingly, this horrible pelvic pain I self-diagnosed as SPD (I could be wrong, but it didn’t feel like regular ligament pain). It was seriously excruciating, and became debilitating during any sort of movement that involved twisting the hips (I never exactly targeted all the triggers, but running, walking, rolling over in bed, and getting out of the car were all high on the list). I was SO paranoid that the pelvic pain would continue throughout my whole pregnancy and even possibly after (I read about some women who had to have surgery eventually), but then it miraculously, randomly disappeared around week 32.

In the beginning of the third trimester, I was still working out just as much as during the second. But then Body Pump started getting awkward…I knew I wasn’t really supposed to lay on my back or do certain ab exercises, and I hated having to reduce my weights (I swear I can do more than this, people! I’m holding back on purpose!! haha so ridiculous). So eventually it was down to the elliptical, bike, and some simple strength training (in the safe little ladies-only section of the gym). I’d bring a book or magazine and do 20-30 minutes on each machine, followed by some basic bicep and tricep work. It was easy and relaxing, but I figured at least I was doing something.

Now that I’m in the last few weeks, I’ve suddenly become a huge fan of treadmill walking. The bike was getting annoying, with my knees pretty much bumping my belly the whole time. I’m still cool with the elliptical, but the treadmill in the basement is just so much more convenient–plus, I don’t have to feel self-conscious about people staring at my belly (I guess it’s not that common to see giant pregnant ladies strolling around gyms). And on top of that, walking is great for getting things rolling in the labor department! Can’t argue with that. I’m due March 23, but crossing my fingers for a St. Patty’s day baby… :)

So that’s been my experience! Maybe in my next pregnancy, I won’t be so paranoid during the first trimester, and I’ll have more success with running. For now, I’m ready to start focusing on the next fitness hurdle: the post-baby body. I have no idea what to expect, but I know I’ll need to make some changes to my lifestyle to get rid of these extra baby pounds. And I honestly can’t wait to get started!

~Kim

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