The Pregnant Athlete Series- The First Trimester

The first trimester is always a stressful one. You are unaware you are pregnant for the first month or so and you experience the most symptoms. We worry about spontaneous abortion rates and extreme fatigue. The first trimester has been described by numerous women, as the trimester from Hell. Personally I was one of the lucky women who had minimal side effects. I had never felt this level of fatigue, but I wasn’t nauseous, craving any foods, and I only experienced 2 bouts of morning sickness. Every female and every pregnancy is going to be different. The focus on the first trimester is to listen to your body. Every craving, every ache or pain, and every sensitivity.

Now this does not mean over eat and think that you are eating for two and you can stop exercising. Diet and portion control is still very important while you are pregnant. Nutrition for pregnant athletes is going to change from your previous diet. You need to incorporate more complex carbs and decrease the amount of protein you are eating. You will need the energy with whole grains throughout your entire pregnancy and you will need to back off the protein for your kidney health. Your poor kidneys are going to be working extra hard for the next 40 weeks, let’s not bog them down more with too much protein.

Athletes are prone to the regular pregnancy symptoms, and you will need to have some symptom relief. I will not being going over the regular pregnancy symptoms. I am going to focus on the aspects of pregnancy that the athlete is going to experience differently. That being said, an app that I really loved and appreciated is “What to Expect”. It is a life saver, and will give you advice and information on each week of gestation. You will feel very informed and prepared. I think it is important to note that miscarriage rates will decrease after 12 weeks, and pushing yourself too hard is going to stress your body and fetus. Athletes are going to have to learn balance in their routine.

Exercise is going to be hit or miss during this trimester. Fatigue, morning sickness, or nausea are going to dictate how often you hit the gym or go for a run. You are going to need to honour your body. Don’t push too hard. The general rule for exercise is keep the same level of activity and this is going to be challenging. Don’t worry too much about avoiding certain exercises or limiting your cardio in the first trimester. Do what you were doing before as long as you can. Every female is going to be different about when they need to drop their cardio. This means if you were doing a 5 KM run in 25 mins, expect to do a 5 KM run slower. You will gradually see your 5 KM time increase. This is normal, cherish the fact you are still able to run.

The second and third trimester is where exercise is going to be altered more. Your belly and the way your body changed shape will dictate which exercises you can do. The key is to keep working out as much as possible. You will thank yourself after you have given birth. Trust me the first trimester is going to pass. Listening to your body. Focus on the connection with the little one in your belly. It goes faster than you think.

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