Continuing from the last post where I discussed everything you can and cannot do in the very first trimester of your pregnancy.
I’m going to recap the rules for you once again, as they are very important:
Doctor’s approval: Of course, I’m going to start with the biggest and the most obvious disclaimer of all – get the OK from your doctor. These nine months are crucial for the little soul growing in you, so be mindful of the decisions you make for it. Speak to your doctor and enquire about what is okay for you. Everyone’s bodies are different and it is very important to know that.
Monitor the Heart Rate: Keeping track of your heart rate is the next important aspect. The magic number is 140 beats per minute. But to be honest, a fit person can push that a bit higher. I personally let my heart rate spike somewhere between 150-165 (note: do bare in mind that my average rate for a 3 hour 12 minutes marathon was a 183 beats/minute, so I have a naturally high heart rate).
For training while pregnancy, I made sure my average heart rate for the entire session was 140 or below but at certain times, I would let it peak to (occasionally to165-170) and instantly drop back down again. Doctors recommend 140-145 beats/minute for pregnant women.
Body temperature: If you’re pregnant in the summer time, then this is something to be mindful of for all your trimesters. You don’t want to overheat the body because the baby can’t regulate its own temperature. Some people go as far as to take their temperature midway through a session, and make sure its never over 38C (100.5F).
Hydration: Staying hydrated during your sessions is vital for the entire nine months. FYI, this is also important for those who aren’t pregnant.
Stress levels: If you’ve got a busy, stressful life, don’t add extra stress to it with exercise. Exercising during this time is not meant to feel hard; you should be able to talk the whole way through your training session.
Hormone Relaxin: This magical hormone helps prepare body for birth by loosening all the ligaments. The great thing about it is that you’ll never feel more relaxed in the muscles; to test, just have a massage and see how supple your muscles feel. But the negative is that a lot of your ligaments become loose. So you might experience more pain in your lower back and through your pelvis/hips further along in your pregnancy. Personally, I noticed it only half way along when I realised how loose my joints were and how it could potentially make you quite unstable – especially if you’re a hard trainer. So from about trimester two, I avoided wide leg or excessive split stance exercises. My squats became less deep, my lunge stance was shorter and not so deep.
Check your energy levels for the rest of the day: You should feel fab after your workout, not whacked. If you feel really tired or lethargic or you hit a wall later in the day (worse than the days you don’t train) then that is a sign that you’ve pushed too hard, so back off a bit next time.
Check for baby’s movements 30mins after the session: Another good idea is to observe your baby’s movements within 30mins of completing your session. A good sign is if you feel around four movements within that 30mins. For me, it was usually as soon as I sat down for breaky!
Moving on to trimester 2 – that’s week 14 to week 27.
It’s the best one for exercise because you get your energy levels back and you’re still able to do a lot of activities. Capitalise on this time and exercise three-four days, if possible.
What You Can Do
Concentrating on your posture is very important here. A lot of pregnant women get very rounded shoulders and hyperlordosis– also known as an excessive arch in the lower back – so you want to be trying to delay that as much as possible because that can lead to a lot of back-related issues.
What You Can’t Do
As you get bigger, you will find it very uncomfortable to lie on your back. You’ll know when this happens because you will physically feel as if you can’t breathe, or you may feel dizzy. Your body will tell you when to stop all the lying on your back activities.
This is the trimester when the hormone relaxin really kicks in. Be very careful with your ligaments here; anything that excessively stretches your back or hips, avoid it. Shorten your lunges, box jumps, step-ups or sumo squats from here on. Also avoid any dangerous moves where you might fall over, so box jumps for example, don’t stack it.
What I Did
During this trimester, I exercised every second day. Some days it was even every day but it would have been just an easy session, like yoga or Pilates.
So out of those 4-5 days of training, I did two crossfit classes and moved indoors to the gym for cardio: 10 minutes on the cross trainer, 30 minutes on treadmill [4min walk and 1 min run on 9.5-10.5 speed] and 10 minutes on the bike.
Exercises I Enjoyed in the Second Trimester
- Angel poses: A great exercise for your posture and core. It works your middle and lower trapezius muscles in your back, which will help prevent rounded shoulders.
- Strict press: You’ll be holding that bub for up to 16 hours per day, so you need a strong upper body. Overhead activities mean engaging that core, so it’s one of those exercises that has multiple benefits.
- Front squats: Keeping the bar (or dumbbells) at the front ensures you are staying nice and upright and mimic everyday activities. Most of the weight you will gain is at your front, so it’s a great exercise for training the rest of the body to cope with front weight.
- Kneeling core and balance: This is a great test for how stable you are. Can you hold each extension without any wobbling? Keep doing these until you feel super stable. Imagine you are balancing a hot cup of coffee on your back and don’t spill it as you move!
- Reverse crunches: You wont be able to do these for very long, so you may as well get them in while you can! Maintaining a stable core is so important as you get bigger.
- Hip raises: I really wanted to keep my hips and core as stable as possible during my pregnancy so exercises like this one became a regular feature.
- V-seat: This was a pregnancy favourite of mine! I did it right up until the day before I gave birth. Ab exercises where you are bracing rather than flexing become more comfortable as you get bigger. It’s really important to keep your shoulders back and down throughout the hold. Don’t hunch!
- The plank: Another great one for the entire pregnancy as it’s a bracing exercise. Try to do it where you can see yourself side on, and make sure there’s not an excessive arch in your lower back, or rounded shoulders.
- Twisties: You won’t be able to do this for very long, so get them in before you get too big! I found this twisting motion actually helped to release any tension in my back. Be careful not to hunch your shoulders.
You can read about Trimester One here.
And jump on my Pinterest page to see all the photos of the exercises.
If you have any pregnancy-related questions, please ask them via the comments section below or visit my Facebook page.