Working out During All Stages of Pregnancy Series – The First Trimester
You just found out you’re pregnant!! Yay, congrats! You are (hopefully) almost euphoric! You are scared, excited, questioning what’s next. Then the morning sickness sets in, you are tired ALL the time, you are nauseous as all get out, nothing sounds good, everything sounds good, you are starving, you aren’t starving…The list goes on and on and you just wish your body could make up it’s mind as to what it wants. The first trimester is tough. So among all the things you’re feeling and experiencing, how in the world are you supposed to even think about exercising through it all!? Today I’m going to share with you a few things that worked for me but admittedly, I didn’t work out very much through either of my pregnancies during the first trimester. Hopefully you guys can learn from my mistakes and can fit in some movement so that when you are finally feeling more like yourself again, you can continue on through your pregnancy being as fit as possible.
These are the easiest weeks of pregnancy by far. First of all, the first 2 weeks you aren’t even technically pregnant yet so you can continue your daily life as if nothing was happening inside of your body. Don’t change a thing! Just do what you’ve always been doing in terms of fitness. The next 2 weeks, weeks 3 and 4 are a total breeze as well only now you have ovulated and are wondering if you’re pregnant. You may get a faint positive pregnancy test at this time and now you’re wondering how your workouts are going to affect that little life inside of you. You probably aren’t experiencing any of those nasty 1st trimester ailments yet so just do your best and keep working out as you always have because things are about to change…
This is where it starts to get interesting. Typically, during these weeks is when you start feeling those first symptoms of pregnancy. For me, after the positive test followed extreme fatigue. This started almost immediately. I was so tired I didn’t know how to function during the day, especially during my second pregnancy when I also had a toddler to chase around. His nap times are what got me through the long days. So what are you supposed to do about a fitness regime!? Well, for me, it was easiest to get up and workout. I ran my usual 5 miles first thing in the morning. If I waited until my son’s nap or until the evening when my husband was home to watch our son, the workout just wasn’t going to happen. After the nausea set in I worked out whenever I felt my best which was usually after I had eaten breakfast. During my first pregnancy, I stopped waking up early and replaced my workouts with sleep. I would walk during my lunch breaks at work and use the elliptical machine on the weekends at the gym when I had more time and flexibility in my schedule. During my second pregnancy I would usually just take a walk with my son in his stroller. Walking was about all I was up for because I suffered with such horrid nausea with both pregnancies. Do what your body tells you to do and don’t feel bad if you don’t get a workout in every day. But do try to get some movement in.
If you are a nausea sufferer then working out will help you feel more normal for at least a little bit. Working out actually helps ease nausea during and right after a workout. If you’re like me ANY time during the day that I didn’t have to suffer from nausea was a welcomed break. Unfortunately, the motivation to workout may be lacking but just know that even a short walk and getting some fresh air will really help. Yoga is also wonderful during this time as it is still movement but not high impact. I also experimented with some barre classes when I didn’t want to be jumping around but wanted to feel something. Barre classes aren’t exactly challenging in the moment but you will be sore afterwards so be prepared!
During these weeks you are probably getting acclimated to this new sensation and your hormones are starting to even out or if you’re like me, you’re still feeling pretty bad but getting used to it and learning how to manage the feelings on a day to day basis. Some days are easier than others but you’re getting the hang of it and you’re nearing the end of the first trimester (thank goodness!!). You may even have moments or even whole parts of your day that are starting to feel like you used to. For me, weeks 9 and 10 were the absolute hardest during both pregnancies and even a walk was hard to manage so I listened to my body and just rested. After week 10 I decided that I needed a gym membership with my second pregnancy so I found one with a daycare and started going in the mornings when I felt like I could manage to leave the house. This was not only good for me but also good for my son who desperately needed to be entertained. The best money I ever spent was on a gym membership with childcare. Even if you don’t want to workout, if you have a child already and are pregnant you can drop them off at childcare for 60-90 minutes (or whatever the gym policy is) and go sit in the locker room to take a break if you need to. It’s so important to get “me” time in during the second pregnancy so do what you have to do. If you do have energy and feel like a workout, by all means do so! If you’re feeling better, now is a good time to try your hand at swimming, cycling, take a class, or use the elliptical machine.
Recommendations Old and New
The old recommendation was to keep your heart rate at or below 140 beats per minute. The new recommendation is to just listen to your body and if you can’t carry on a conversation or you’re feeling faint, slow down or stop. Pregnancy isn’t the time to push yourself. Pregnancy is a time to just pat yourself on the back for getting out there and moving a little bit each day. For me, pregnancy was always a nice excuse to slow down a little bit and not worry about time goals, intensity levels, or a specific workout. I listened to my body and if I didn’t feel like pushing myself, I’d do a workout where I was still moving but just not at a high intensity. I did try to move a little bit everyday though because as I mentioned above, it really helped with my nausea. Believe it or not, you will start to feel better eventually and working out will get easier. For now just focus on taking care of yourself, resting, and getting through to the next trimester.
For more information related to exercising in the first trimester of your pregnancy you can read about it here.
To read all about exercising during pregnancy at any stage you can go here.