I’ve been blessed with a fairly easy pregnancy. I didn’t have much morning sickness (actually I had none. Zero. Zilch. I only three up once and that was about 4 weeks ago when I choked on some corn. ) I had a few nights during my first trimester where dinner was less than appealing, but I always ended up eating something. I’ve had no food aversions and really no cravings. I hadn’t been ungodly uncomfortable, with swelling and peeing and all that stuff. My blood pressure stays around 100/62 every time I go to the doctor. My weight gain is at the lower end of the range that the doctors want to see (I actually haven’t gained more than maybe 2 pounds since mid-March although baby and belly are growing). I go into the doctor’s office for my weekly/biweekly and monthly check ups and the nurses and doctors always say “You are our easy patient today”. I like that. It took me 7 years of marriage to decide that I did in fact want to have a child so at least it hasn’t been a horrible experience.
One of the most important factors in me having such a great pregnancy is my activity. From day one, I’ve said that I’ll do everything in my power to stay active because I know that it’s good for me (mentally and physically), but more importantly it’s good for my baby girl. I’m not going to lie… working out hasn’t always been a breeze as my belly grows, but I’ve adapted. I try to get 45 minutes to an hour of some kind of movement each day. I ran regularly until about 33 weeks, and now it’s more of a once a week kind of thing. I biked on the bike trainer religiously through 29 weeks and still plop myself on the bike as much as possible. And I walk. A lot. Walking in our neighborhood or town is a little different than just a leisurely walk. It’s a workout. I’m talking, heart pumping, sweat dripping workout. If you question that walking can be hard, I invite you to come walk with Tom and I anytime!
People ask “how do you do it comfortably”. Here are some things that have helped me:
- Make sure that you are in comfortable clothes. As my belly grew, I needed to change my workout clothes a little. I switched from regular bike shorts to men’s bike bibs as they fit over my belly better. Yep, I rocked them with a sport bra and they were dead sexy. Just remember, I biked indoors in the privacy of my basement so I didn’t have to scar anyone by seeing that. It’s a sight, trust me.
- I bought loose coolmax shirts that were a size or two bigger than I usually wear. I didn’t invest in maternity specific bottoms, but again, went with shorts and capri’s that are a size or two bigger, with a big waist band (TJMaxx was great for both the pants and tops and they didn’t break the bank). I made sure that the waist band could be worn over my belly or under it. Roll down yoga pants became a lifesaver. Runingskirts.com had a maternity line and I was lucky enough to get one of their maternity skirts to try out. I love it – it has a high belly panel which I can wear up or fold down. They also sent me a cute sleeveless maternity shirt that is flattering and functional.
- I made sure that I had a great sports bra. The first thing that grew were the girls (TMI? It’s a fact people…) I really love these from Zensah (– it’s seamless and supportive). I needed at least once size bigger.
- Unlike many women I haven’t been constantly hot during my pregnancy. Actually, I’m usually layered and Tom and I joke that we live in different climates because I have more clothing on than he does. I found that when it was cooler, I needed a coat that I would stretch around my belly and that I could shed easily when I got warm. I got the Zensah Seamless Power running jacket in a size Medium and it's perfect. It stretches about my belly because of the material, but I know that I will be able to wear it when I'm not pregnant and it'll fit fine. The sleeves are long, there are great thumb holes, and there's a pocket in the back that fits my phone and keys.
- Around 20 weeks, I invested in a maternity running belt. I did some research because I found that my growing belly needed some support and that the Gabrialla Maternity Belt MS 96(i) was well liked with other runners. I could only find it on amazon.com and it was probably the most clutch item that I purchased to stay active. I was feeling more round ligament pain during running and also started getting Braxton hicks contractions when I ran (which just feels like my whole belly was tight). I wear the belt religiously when I run and have actually put it on a few times in the last week or so when I walk. It’s a weird sensation to have your big belly just hanging out, so the belt helps.
- Compression is my friend. I’ve always loved my Norma Tech boots which I use a lot (after getting the okay from my doctor). I often times feel like I have a tad bit of swelling (many times on only one side, depending on how baby girl is laying which is weird but totally normal) so I have been wearing compression socks or sleeves a lot. Zensah has an ultra compression sleeve which is super tight and I have really liked using those. I also like a good full compression sock because they cover my ankles and don’t really have a favorite brand.
- Comfortable shoes – I am part of the Brooks ID program. I love their shoes and gear. I wish they had a maternity line because I only have a few shirts and shorts from them that fit right now. But their shoes are awesome. So maybe I’m a bit biased on their brand, but a comfortable, well supported shoe is key. You are carrying extra weight and need to be supported.
- I always carry my phone with me if Tom isn’t around (although very rarely do we work out alone). If something happens or I don’t feel right, I can call to have someone come get me (that hasn’t happened, but I want to be prepared)
- I wear my RoadID Slim every day. It has Tom’s phone number and my mom’s. Again, better to be safe than sorry.
- I carry water. I drink a lot of water anyway, but when working out, I make sure that I have extra water to make sure that I don’t get dehydrated. Dehydration can cause a lot of problems during pregnancy and I have found causes more contractions. I also come home and immediately drink about 20 ounces of liquid… even after a nice slow stroll around the neighborhood with the dog.
- I always eat something before I workout and usually find that I eat during my workout (maybe a granola bar or something small). I haven’t had any nausea during workouts, but I find that I feel really hungry sometimes and I’d rather not have my blood sugar drop or anything when I’m out.
Expectations (and this is a big one)
- I let go of all reliance on pace and distance. As an endurance athlete, I always find that I get fixated on how far I’ve gone or how fast I’m going. My pre-pregnancy pace has gone from 8:30’s to, well, I don’t know. Maybe 12:30’s, although I don’t know that for a fact. I run until I feel like I want to be done. Or I’ll say “I would like to run 7 laps around the pond”. Sometimes I make it 9. Sometimes I stop at 3. I run for time (only because I’m always going to be type A). I bike for time and actually took my magnet off my back wheel. I don’t care what my pace is.
- If I’m feeling off, I’m totally okay with saying that I’m off and switching things up – cutting a bike short, walking the rest of my run, etc. It’s happened a lot. I learned to listen to my body. I don’t push through being uncomfortable. I used to do that and I will again. It’s part of being an athlete and I know that. There are times when things are hard, and things ache and that’s all part of getting better. Not during pregnancy. If something hurts or feels off, it’s not right. You can’t push yourself with a baby growing inside of you. :)
- Although many people suggest keeping your heart rate under 140 when pregnant, it wasn’t realistic for me as an athlete prior to getting pregnant. Yes, I talked to my doctor about it. Instead I use the talk test. If I can talk, I’m going a good pace. If I become winded or short of breath, I slow down or take a break. If I can’t breathe, my baby can’t breathe. Simple as that.
- I don’t care what people think when they see me (and this is easier said than done). When my belly was just starting to grow, I was super self conscious about it because I looked pudgy. Now I’m rocking a basketball belly and I’m proud of it. I don’t care if I’m waddling when I walk. My “running” has become wogging (waddle+jogging) and I’m proud of it. Luckily I’ve not had anyone tell me that I’m doing something wrong by staying active (quite the opposite actually). Most days I get a “you go girl” when someone sees me working up a hill or shuffling along a trail. I’m proud of my body for what it’s capable of in terms of carrying a baby AND being fit.
Check with your doctor
This is the most important thing you can do to stay active. If there are any complications, let the professionals tell you what you can and can’t do. I was very active prior to getting pregnant (hello, I was training for Ironman Florida) so I knew that it wasn’t realistic to go from swimming, biking and running every day to leisurely walking or nothing. But for some people, that’s all they can do. I know my body better than a lot of people and my doctor gave me a lot of freedom to create a plan that works for me based on how I feel. My number one priority right now is Abigail. I would never do anything that would harm her or put her at risk of being harmed. And with less than 5 weeks until she’s here, I feel like I’ve helped her by staying active. I know that it’ll help me with delivery and recovery. I’m hoping I bounce back fast from everything. But we’ll just take one day at a time.
Do you have any questions about working out while pregnant or what worked for me?
If you are pregnant, what are you doing to keep active?
If you see a pregnant woman with a full on basketball belly working out, would you be proud of her and yell “You go girl”? (you should!!!)