Working out During All Stages of Pregnancy Series – The Second Trimester
Finally, the second trimester. Do you feel like you’ve already been pregnant forever!? I know I felt like that once I finally reached what was deemed the magical second trimester. I had heard that my energy levels would return and that the nausea and morning sickness would taper off. In a sense, yes, that did happen, but I was still no where near feeling myself like I had prior to being pregnant. So, how do you exercise in the second trimester? Good news! The second trimester feels like a breeze compared to the other two so establishing good exercise habits now isn’t as hard as one might think.
First off, let’s go over some general guidelines for second trimester fitness. Generally speaking, it’s usually safe for a women going through a low risk pregnancy to exercise every day for at least 30 minutes at a time. The old intensity guideline was to not let your heart rate go above 140 beats per minute but since everyone is different this guideline has been slightly altered. The new guideline is to use the talk test to determine how hard you’re working. If you aren’t comfortable talking to someone during your workout then you are working too hard and need to slow your pace down. Always listen to your body. Your body will probably let you know if something doesn’t feel right or if you’re working too hard. Pay close attention to what your body may be telling you and you’ll set yourself up for a successful second trimester fitness program.
These weeks you may still be feeling “off” or not quite yourself. However, you will start feeling better as the hormones start leveling out. I was finally able to start working out at a higher intensity and for a longer duration once I hit these weeks. You may actually starting feeling like you want to do more than get out of bed only to eat something then go back to bed. For these first few weeks, start slowly while getting back into a nice fitness routine. Don’t overdo it in your first few weeks back. Start at a lower intensity and duration then what you may have left off doing prior to getting pregnant. This will help you with actually sticking to a workout routine. If you totally ditched any type of movement all together in the first trimester, just start with walking for these first few weeks, upping the duration and intensity one walk at a time. Once you start feeling more comfortable you can work your way up to working out at almost the same duration and intensity you left off at prior to becoming pregnant. Do what feels good to you. I left off running around 5-7 miles at a time before getting those two pink lines so I eventually was able to work my way back up to doing 6 miles at a time during a workout but I was much slower than I left off at because that’s what felt most comfortable to me.
By now you are hopefully feeling better and better…Less tired, more energetic, less nauseous, etc. You should have been able to build your strength back up and because you aren’t very big yet, you should still be able to move with ease and not have to modify anything too much. For me, this was a time of getting back into my groove and finally feeling like my old self again (sort of). I call this the cruise control month because you are just cruising along doing your thing and feeling good. You may feel fluffy and people are probably noticing you’re gaining some weight but may not actually think you look pregnant. This time can be especially frustrating for many women but working out and moving definitely helps with the psychological part of pregnancy. Getting your heart rate up will help combat those negative self imagine thoughts and make you feel strong and beautiful. Know that this time is very important to keep up a regular workout routine because you’re setting yourself up for good workout behavior habits later on in your pregnancy which not only helps with bouncing back after baby gets here, but is also really good for your baby and let’s be honest, aren’t we always trying to do what’s in the best interest of our children anyways? While you’re feeling good, these habits are crucial to establish early on.
You are half way through your pregnancy and are finally starting to look pregnant and not fluffy. For me, this was my favorite month of my last pregnancy. Even though I had the stomach bug once during this month, overall I felt pretty dang good and hopefully you will too! By now you may start feeling like you have established a nice routine and it’s now a habit. For runners, you may start feeling like you’re not as comfortable anymore while running and may want to invest in a pregnancy support belt. This also goes for any other activity that jostles the stomach slightly. Even if you are on the elliptical machine and feel your belly isn’t as stable as it used to be, a pregnancy support belt will help hold everything together and take pressure off the bladder.
These are the last few weeks of your second trimester so enjoy them because things are going to start becoming more difficult again in the third trimester. Try to stick with exercises that make you feel good and don’t push yourself too hard. This is not the time to train for a race or increase your intensity or duration. If you’ve found your “sweet spot” with exercising then you may want to just stay there or start decreasing as you continue on into the third trimester. You’ll probably see a noticeable difference in belly size now if you compare it to the first month of the second trimester. You may start feeling out of breath more quickly because of your growing belly so try to listen to your body and don’t push yourself. Do what feels most comfortable to you at this point. Walking is still a wonderful exercise at this point and is great on your joints. Cycling and strength training are also great activities to stick with at this point if walking feels too uncomfortable on your bladder.
Enjoy your second trimester because as I mentioned before, it is by far the easiest of the three. Let me reiterate that by setting good exercise patters now while you are feeling good will help you stick with them until the very end. Remember, this is great for the baby as well as yourself so know that while the going will get tough, you are doing yourself and your growing baby a world of good. If you would like to read more on exercising in your second trimester you can read this article at Healthline which goes into even more detail about the types of exercises that are great for the second trimester.