The Pregnant Athlete Series- Second Trimester
The second trimester of pregnancy is the easiest trimester in my opinion. Most of the time all the pregnancy symptoms disappear, the baby bump grows, and the risk of spontaneous abortion has dropped significantly. Your energy starts to return and you will get some of your sanity back. For athletes specifically this is where you are going to have modify your exercise routine, and really start to incorporate other stress management techniques that do not revolve around exercise. This is the trimester where you are going to have to start working on our pelvic floor.
Let’s start with the pelvic floor exercises. I think a pelvic floor physiotherapist is an absolute asset during pregnancy. This is going to save you a lot of trouble for years to come. They will do a personal assessment and work with you individually to optimize your pelvic floor. Key points for athletes and their pelvic floor:
- Your pelvic floor is most likely going to be too tight. This is going to cause issues with delivery. You need to make sure your pelvic floor is moving properly. You need to have a full contraction, which means your pelvic floor has to completely relax as well as tighten.
- Pelvic floor is really effected by breathing exercises and meditation. Make sure to start incorporate belly breathing and relaxation into your routine.
Exercise routine changes are going to drastically change towards the end of this trimester. Exercise is going to work with your shape. If you are like me and didn’t have a true baby bump until 6.5 months, you are going to have to adjust more later on. When the baby bump comes through we want to avoid crunches and focusing on the abdominal muscles. Your abs are supposed to stretch around the baby. You will have to let go of the notion of a flat stomach. My pelvic floor physiotherapist told me that I needed to stop working on my abs so I would start to show. “if you don’t allow them to stretch they are going to rip”. She was completely right. Focus on a flat abdomen after you give birth and have recovered. So the main point here is relax on core exercises.
In terms of lifting weights …. Do as much as you can without causing strain during the exercise. This means your body is going to tell you if that is too much. It will fatigue faster, and I swear the dumbbells will feel heavier than they were. It is unrealistic to think that you are going to be lifting the same amount of weight for the same reps and sets as you did before pregnancy. This is frustrating but your body is going through some drastic changes. Be patient with yourself. Still go to the gym as many days you were going before, and know that the workouts will not be as intense, but they will still be challenging with being pregnant. Do what you can. You are going to thank yourself for putting in the effort to exercise. Some midwives will say 50 lbs max, and will not apply to an athlete working out for an hour. Fifty lbs refers to how much weight you can carry safely during your pregnancy all day if you work in a warehouse.
Stress Management is going to have to start happening in any way that is not exercising. Your body is changing, your hormones are fluctuating and you are not yourself. You are starting to transition into another phase of your life. You are going to be stressed about the unknown, being a good mom, what to do with this new child, and how do I keep my relationships up. It is a lot to handle. Starting to journal, or meditate. Get outside and be in nature, no matter the time of year. Colour in an adult colouring book, or start painting. Find something that you can channel your stress into and help you release it. Keep trying out different stress management techniques until you find something that resonates with you.
Next week we are going to over the third trimester! The baby is coming and we are going to go over what to have done before baby gets here, further changes to your exercise routine, and weight gain expectations. Stay tuned!