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The Pregnant Athlete Series: The Third Trimester

The Third trimester is a big one… pun intended. By now 95% of women are starting to show. There are a few exception if you are tall or suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (chronically throwing up). This is when you are going to want to start preparing the nurseries and having your baby showers. I want you to add in meal prep for months after you give birth. Start freezing meals because you are not going to have the time or energy to make a nutritious nourishing meal that you will need to properly recover. Every time you make meal double the batch and freeze half. You will be thanking yourself later.

We are going to talk about the pelvic floor again. This is the final stages to get your pelvic floor moving again. Focusing on belly breathing and mediation. Gentle stretches in frog pose and downward dog are also going to open and stretch the pelvic floor. I said this before you will need the pelvic floor to have full range of motion to have an effective contraction. The more effective the contraction the less time you will be pushing.

I also suggest investigating the Epi-NO is it a device that will help the tissues in the vagina to open. This device significantly reduces the risk of tearing during delivery. You use the inflator to gradually open the vaginal canal. This device can also be used to strength the pelvic floor and vaginal canal muscles after delivery. You will start incorporating perianal massages to help decrease tearing, and you will start evening primrose oil to soften the cervix. This is a glorious month of preparation for the big delivery day.

Exercise is going to be very modified by this stage. You are going to find that running distances is not feasible. Sprinting can be ok up until the point your abdomen pulls too much on the front of you. You should continue to do different cardio machines. Try the elliptical or the arc trainer. These are a great way to get your heart rate up and stay healthy. Speaking of heart rate to elevate your heart rate during pregnancy can be stressful on the baby. Your body is going to tell you what you can and can’t do. If you start to feel sensations in your chest, shortness of breath and anxiety you have gone too far. These are signs of a heart attack which does not mean you are going into cardiac arrest, it just means to rest and not be as intense. Try and keep your heart rate during cardio exercise in the 160 bpm. Most athletes are used to going above the recommended heart rate during exercise, your body can handle it. A lot less cardio exercise is going to get your heart rate in that range than you are used to.

Weight gain is another topic that is going to come up during this trimester. This is where most of the weight gain I going to occur as the baby rapidly grows in your uterus. A lot of doctors and midwives are going to use your BMI to predict the safe amount of weight you should gain during pregnancy. BMI is not made for athletes and most people are going to gain more than 15 lbs in their pregnancy. I use common sense when interpreting this chart.

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Most athletes fall into the normal weight category, and should gain between 25-35 lbs. This being said your body is going to do what it needs to do. I gained 57 pounds during my pregnancy. I took on a lot of water weight. My ankles were swollen and the rest of my body was puffy, especially in the third trimester. Try and not obsess about weight gain. As long as your baby and vitals are fine, you shouldn’t stress.

At the end of this trimester you are going to have your little bundle of joy. Next week I am going to talk about delivery. We will cover C sections, natural births, epidurals, laughing gas, tens machine, mantras, you name it and we will cover it.

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