Thursday, January 4, 2018

Prenatal Workouts by Trimester

Let's talk working out while preggo. I'll be super honest and tell you that it's the one thing that has helped me keep sane and feel like myself during this time. I feel strong even while feeling like a whale.  To still be able to do stuff, even though it's limited, has been such a blessing for me.  So today I'm going to talk about working out in each trimester and what worked, and didn't work, for me. 


Disclaimer - Because this is important. I am not an expert. I am not your doctor. This is simply a "what worked for me and might work for you" post. Talk to your doctor before starting or continuing any exercise routine when pregnant. Every body and pregnancy is different. Be smart about it and listen to your body. And your doctor.

Pre-Pregnancy Routine
So before getting into what works and doesn't work, I thought it would be good to discuss where I started. Most people will tell you that what you're doing before baby you can continue doing while pregnant with baby. You'll just need to modify. But there are exceptions to this. Hot yoga being one. Most doctors will also tell you that it's important to keep active while pregnant. It helps with a lot of pregnancy symptoms and also makes for an easier delivery (I'll let you know how that one goes!). Pre-pregnancy, this was my schedule (mostly):

  • Monday - Hot yoga (1 hour with an average 300 calorie burn)
  • Tuesday - Spin class followed by Hot Yoga (1 hour 45 minutes with average 550 calorie burn )
  • Wednesday - Boot camp or Barre (45 minutes - bootcamp averaged 400 calories and barre average 250 calories)
  • Thursday - Spin (45 minutes - average 350 calorie burn)
  • Saturday - Barre followed by Spin (1.5 hours with average of 550 calorie burn)
That's 5 days a week and 7 classes. To give you an idea of now, I'm doing 3-4 days a week, 3-4 clases. 

First Trimester (0-13 weeks)

August 2017 - 11 weeks
I was super lucky.  My first trimester wasn't bad. I was really tired, but only really nauseous in the morning and as long as I ate breakfast immediately, I was fine. This is not the case for most women. The first trimester is hard for most women with morning sickness and fatigue. Because of this, most of my routine didn't change. I actually did a blog post about my first trimester workouts, which you can read here. But, here's the quick and dirty overview.

Changes:
  • No hot yoga. The rationale for this is extreme heat and inversions basically equals you falling down. The way I realized I was pregnant, or something was off, was when I spent the last 15 minutes of my favorite yoga class trying not to pass out and/or puke. 
  • No deep twists. You don't want to hurt your baby.
  • Not as much energy. This means that it's hard to do what you used to be able to. Running? Turned into jogging and for much shorter periods of time. 
  • Reduction in weights. My doctor told me no more than 15 lbs on my weights. I was around 12-15 lbs for boot camp classes for my arms, so I went down to 8-10. 
  • No jumping or anything that could cause a fall. You're tired, so you're more clumsy. So no box jumps or, for me, stadium stair runs. Oh darn. 
Workouts and Modifications:
  • Bootcamp - I started doing more bootcamp classes. My bootcamp classes are like HIIT circuit training. We do a lot of body weight exercises and high reps. These were actually really easy for me to modify and still be able to do most of the work.
    • Modifications
      • Less and slower running. Typically, a warm up starts with 2 to 3 laps. I took it down to 1 or 2 laps and took my time. It was more like something between a brisk walk and a jog. 
      • No jumping. It just felt weird. 
      • Lower weights - I went down to 8 and 10 lb weights from my 12 to 15 lb weights. My very tired self didn't mind this change at all.
      • Less core work - my doctor told me not to worry about the core as much because my muscles would separate. Between that and not being able to twist a lot, meant that I did less core work. No bicycles, I did planks regular or on my knees, depending on how I felt, and did a lot of cat/cows. 
  • Spin - Spin was one of the few classes I didn't have to modify. This was really easy for me to just continue as is.
    • Modifications - I only did spin class. Away went the two a days!
  • Running/Walking - On the days that I felt really tired, I would cancel class and go on a walk. This was something really easy to do. I would try and jog at least 1/4 of a mile to keep up my endurance, but only if I felt like it. I tried to do 3 miles when I just walked. 
  • Yoga/Barre - Yoga went away, sadly. My studio only did hot yoga for the longest time, so I didn't have many options.  I could have created a flow for at home, but it was hard to know what I could and couldn't do. And, let's be honest, I'm a terrible at-home exerciser. I need people around me to keep going. I kept up with barre. Like bootcamp, there were very few things to modify, if any.
    • Modifications - No deep twists.  
Second Trimester (14-27 weeks)

September 2016 - 15 weeks
The second trimester is when exercise starts getting tricky.  Your belly starts showing, even though you just look bloated or fat half the time, and you swing between feeling fabulous and can take on the world to wanting to sleep for 12 hours straight. The center of gravity also starts changing. 

Changes:
  • Still no hot yoga. I asked my doctor this every time I saw her. She got annoyed, don't keep asking your doctor.  Just because someone else can, doesn't mean you can. Or should. 
  • No twisting. Fewer crunches. 
  • At 20 weeks, no lying flat.  A bosu or bolster is super helpful at this point (I'll show you below what I'm talking about).
  • Fluctuating energy. Seriously, it comes and goes. You just have to go with it. And don't overdo it.
  • Still a reduction in weights. I stayed at my 8-10 lb weights. At about week 22 or 24 weeks, I stopped doing boot camp and was just using my 3 lb weights in spin class for arms.  
  • Definitely no running. I couldn't do that. Others can, but I'm not a runner and was down to just walking by about 18 weeks.
  • No or modified crunching.  It gets really hard to crunch at a certain point. You can still do crunches, but they are different from what you're used to.   
Workouts and Modifications:
  • Bootcamp - While bootcamp was great in first trimester, the larger I got, the harder it was to do classes. I couldn't run and then I was having to modify everything to death, so I took this class out of my routine at about 22 or 24 weeks. 
    • Exercises to do instead
      • Arms - My instructor was telling us the other day that if you have an epidural, you actually have to hold your legs up during birth, so keeping your arm strength is really crucial. Plus, you're going to have to lug a baby and a car seat around so start building those muscles and/or keep them! 
        • High reps with low weights - I did most of my arm workouts in spin. We do a lot of reps with 3-5 lb weights. Biceps, triceps and shoulders are the main focus. 
        • Use an isometric resistance band - One of my instructors started using these in spin instead of weights and I love it! I even ordered one off Amazon for at home! This is a great way to work your muscles without having to use weights and they take up a lot less space.  You can do bicep curls with them (hold in one hand and pull with the other or put the band around your wrists and pull tight and then do curls), tricep work (arms behind back, band around wrists and lift arms), etc. 
        • Push-ups - At about 18 weeks, I moved to doing push-ups on my stairs. You can also do them on a wall. You aren't having to hold up your increasing weight or hurt your knees and, if using the steps, can give your belly some more room. 
      • Legs - Legs are still really easy to do! Also, my butt still looks awesome. So keep up the booty work, you need something to look awesome. Ha!
        • Squats - this is really easy, low impact. You can do regular squats or sumo squats (angle feet out and pelvis goes straight down, not back).
        • Mountain climbers - I just did these really, really slow. But you can still do them.
  • Spin - During the second trimester, spin got interesting. At about 22 weeks, sitting on the bike for long periods of time started to hurt. Too much pressure, I guess. It also got harder to do quick moves like tapbacks and jumps (sitting to standing every 4-count).
    • Modifications
      • No sprints. You run out of breath really quickly. The rule of thumb is that you should still be able to carry on a conversation when exercising while pregnant. Sprints pretty much make that impossible. If I did one, it was more like a run than an all out sprint. And I did it sitting down.
      • No jumps. I would sit through the first half of the jumps and ride standing the next half. I still do this.
      • Baby tapbacks. One of my instructors (who also did spin while preggo) likens it to a baby twerk. Just barely touching the butt back and to the seat. 
      • No crunches on the bike. The larger you get, the harder it is to lean forward. This makes push-ups on a bike hard. I did little arm movements until I couldn't lean forward anymore (3rd trimester). 
      • Sit when you need, stand when you need. When you hit that point that it's no longer comfortable to sit or stand, just move as you need. Sometimes I stand when the class is in the saddle, other times I sit when they're standing. You have to do what works for you. And no one is going to say anything to the pregnant lady.   
  • Running/Walking - Running is non-existent.  Walking is a good go-to when you don't have a lot of energy.
  • Yoga/Barre - At about 24 weeks, my gym brought back warm yoga (84 degrees) and one of the instructors did a prenatal yoga class. If you can find one of those, do it! It's so helpful and worth it! I've been doing the warm yoga class once a week, when my schedule allows, and it's such a nice break in the middle of the week. You can only do about half of the moves, but just stretching out your muscles is huge. 
    • Modifications
      • At 20 weeks, start using a bolster or bosu to prop yourself up. You can also use big pillows. You just don't want to lie completely flat. If you use a bosu, just flip the hard side down and lean against the half ball.  If using a bolster or big pillow, use blocks to angle it up so you're leaning back at about a 45 degree angle. 
Using a bolster. Photo courtesy of www.yogajournal.com
      • No twisting. No spinal twists, no prayer twists, etc. You can cross one leg over the other and then take them down to the floor. That's the only twist you can do!
      • Take a wide stance. This was such a simple thing, yet a huge game changer for me! You have to start giving your belly some room. So when doing sun salutations, go wide. Instead of hopping or jumping up from down dog, step your feet out wide to the edge of the mat. Leave them wide when doing forward folds. Use a block if you have trouble reaching the ground for your forward fold or just grab opposite elbows. Side note - at some point, your boobs will get bigger and grabbing opposite elbows will eventually get you a face full of cleavage. I've always had this issue, but pregnancy just makes it more fun.  Keeping a wide stance in Warrior I and Crescent will also help with bending. 
      • Instead of doing a chaturanga (it gets impossible at some point), come down to all fours and do a push-up from there.
      • Instead of updog or cobra (cause you can't lie on your tummy!), you can either do some cat cows, take a breather, or do a pushup. Whatever feels best. 
      • Abs - there isn't much core work you can do, but there are a few things that are still available!
        • Modified crunches - hand behind your head and gently lift. Your belly will stop you from overdoing them. For a harder crunch, lift your legs off the ground when you lift your head. Do this on the bosu/bolster/pillow. Make sure the bosu/pillow is angled up when doing these!
        • Cat/cow - These are really great! Low impact and still work those core muscles!
    • Favorite moves/poses - Yoga has some great stretches to help with those pregnancy aches and pains!
      • Pigeon - Hips have been a big sore spot (quite literally) for me. They get so tight! Pigeon is a really great hip stretch/release. You can do pigeon on your back (figure four one leg over the over and then lift up at the knee) or you can take pigeon on the floor. At a certain point (it's different for everyone), it helps to have a bolster or big pillow under your hips when doing pigeon. You can also roll up a fluffy towel and use that. 
      • Frog - I hated frog pose for the longest time, but man does it feel good when you're pregnant! I sometimes get in this pose and just lay there for a while on a pillow or blocks (or three, cause I'm huge). It's also great for your sciatica if that's bothering you.
Frog pose. Photo courtesy of www.upwave.com
      • Butterfly pose - while laying back on the bosu/bolster/pillow at an angle, roll a blanket or large towel up long ways and wrap it around your ankles, then let your ankles fall to the side. Another great hip opener that's a little less intense than frog or pigeon!
Third Trimester (28-40 weeks)

January 2017 - 31 weeks + 5 days
This is where I am now! I'm 31 weeks and 5 days.  You're huge at this point (at least that's how I feel). Center of gravity is off, it's hard to do anything quickly and baby is sitting quite squarely on your bladder and giving lots of pressure. But you're in the home stretch!

Changes:
  • I do about half of what I did in the beginning. Half the classes, half the types of classes, half the calories (I'm really proud if I break 300 in spin now!).  
  • Lots of swelling, so it's hard to put on my spin shoes. I'm pretty close to not being able to wear my shoes anymore. My feet go numb about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through class. I'm just going to rent as needed.
  • I do spin, barre/pilates and yoga almost exclusively now. 
  • Spin is getting interesting. I'm starting to hit my belly with my legs sometimes and I'm almost always doing my own thing (sitting or standing) for comfort.
  • Moves now are more about strengthening muscles for labor and are more static     
Workouts and Modifications:
  • Bootcamp - No more bootcamp for me! 
    • Exercises to do instead - Most of these from 2nd trimester will still work!
      • Arms - My instructor was telling us the other day that if you have an epidural, you actually have to hold your legs up during birth, so keeping your arm strength is really crucial. Plus, you're going to have to lug a baby and a car seat around so start building this muscles and/or keep them! 
        • High reps with low weights - I did most of my arm workouts in spin. We do a lot of reps with 3-5 lb weights. Biceps, triceps and shoulders are the main focus. 
        • Use an isometric resistance band - One of my instructors started using these in spin instead of weights and I love it! I even ordered one off Amazon for at home! This is a great way to work your muscles without having to use weights and they take up a lot less space.  You can do bicep curls with them (hold in one hand and pull with the other or put the band around your wrists and pull tight and then do curls), tricep work (arms behind back, band around wrists and lift arms), etc. 
        • Push-ups - At about 18 weeks, I moved to doing push-ups on my stairs. You can also do them on a wall. You aren't having to hold up your increasing weight or hurt your knees and, if using the steps, can give your belly some more room. 
      • Legs - Legs are still really easy to do! Also, my butt still looks awesome. So keep up the booty work, you need something to look awesome. Ha!
        • Squats - this is really easy, low impact. You can do regular squats or sumo squats (angle feet out and pelvis goes straight down, not back).
        • Mountain climbers - I just did these really, really slow. But you can still do them. I can still do these at 31 weeks!
  • Spin - As I mentioned above, spin is very different for me now. It hurts to sit for any length of time thanks to pressure, but it's also a lot of work to stand. So I'm pretty much off from everyone at this point. I stand when I need, sit when I need. I do side crunches (you can still do those), but I can't do any pushups on the bike. I'm also really slow, so I do one tapback for every two they do in class. At this point, your goal is to get your heart rate up and keep moving, nothing else. And really, you should feel like a badass for even still working out. That's what I tell myself!
    • Modifications
      • No sprints. I can't even do one if I tried. I just double my speed (which isn't saying much) and I do it in the saddle. Try to keep your speed steady while standing. It will help with balance and your endurance while standing. 
      • No jumps. I sit through the first half of the jumps and ride standing the next half. I still do this.
      • Baby tap backs and much slower. One of my instructors (who also did spin while preggo) likens it to a baby twerk. Just barely touching the butt back and to the seat. Again, I do one of these for every two that everyone else does. 
      • No crunches on the bike. You can do side crunches! I do those while everyone else is doing pushups or crunches.  
      • Sit when you need, stand when you need. When you hit that point that it's no longer comfortable to sit or stand, just move as you need. Sometimes I stand when the class is in the saddle, other times I sit when they're standing. You have to do what works for you. And no one is going to say anything to the pregnant lady.   
  • Running/Walking - Walking is a good go-to when you don't have a lot of energy.
  • Yoga/Barre - Everything that I said in the second trimester, but with some changes.  
    • Modifications
      • At 20 weeks, start using a bolster or bosu to prop yourself up (see above). You can also use big pillows. You just don't want to lie completely flat. If you use a bosu, just flip the hard side down and lean against the half ball.  If using a bolster or big pillow, use blocks to angle it up so you're leaning back at about a 45 degree angle. 
      • No twisting. No spinal twists, no prayer twists, etc. You can cross one leg over the other and then take them down to the floor. That's the only twist you can do!
      • Take a wide stance. You have to start giving your belly some room. So when doing sun salutations, go wide. Instead of hopping or jumping up from down dog, step your feet out wide. Leave them wide when doing forward folds. Use a block if you have trouble reaching the ground for your forward fold or just grab opposite elbows. Side note - at some point, your boobs will get bigger and grabbing opposite elbows will eventually get you a face full of cleavage. I've always had this issue, but pregnancy just makes it more fun. 
      • Instead of updog or cobra (cause you can't lie on your tummy!), come to your knees. You can either do some cat cows, take a breather, or do a pushup. Whatever feels best. 
      • Abs - at this point, you're getting your body ready to push a baby out. You can start as early as 30 weeks (that's when my instructors had me start doing these). 
        • Cat/cow - These are still really great and help get your baby in position! Low impact and still work those core muscles!
        • Instead of doing crunches, hold your legs up in a static position like you would for birth (slightly wide, bent at knees).  This will help build those arm muscles and your lower pelvic muscles. 
        • You can do a double crunch. While gently lifting your head and shoulders off the bosu, lift your knees at the same time. This will work those lower pelvic muscles. 
        • If doing crunches, while reclining on the bosu/bolster, curl your head and shoulders up while squeezing a block between your knees. This engages those glutes and pelvis muscles.
        • Bicycles, leg lifts, regular crunches, etc. do nothing for you at this point.  
      • Modify whatever! Again, be proud you're still moving! Most aren't at this point! So modify whatever you need. If you can only do half a class or ten minutes at a time, then do that. Listen to your body!
I hope this helps! It's been an interesting journey, but I really am so proud of myself for still working out and finding ways to keep making this work for me. I can't overstate how much this has helped me keep my sanity and also helps me feel better about myself. Whatever you do, talk to your doctor first. Be smart about it and just go with whatever works that day. Every day is different, so don't beat yourself up if you can only do half of what you did before. You're growing a human and that is hard work! 

6 comments:

  1. What a great post! Good for you for keeping up such a good workout routine - your labor and recovery will be thanking you for it in a few weeks! I really appreciate your point about feeling strong even when you feel huge - that's really the best way to put it! You are looking great!

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    1. Thanks Mary Leigh! I hope you're doing and feeling good!

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  2. Wow! Awesome post and very detailed. I have always felt that exercise is a lifestyle choice and not something that you should do intermittently. I admire you for having a routine during your pregnancy. I have exercised since I was a little girl and continue to integrate it into my lifestyle.

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    1. Thank you! You're so right - exercise really is a lifestyle. I was just telling someone the other day that finding what you love to do and a place that you love doing it at (your home, a gym, a trail, etc) is what makes it work! Thanks for visiting!

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  3. What an awesome post. I am so jealous that you didn't have that bad of a morning sickness when I was pregnant with all three of my girls I had morning sickness a majority of the pregnancy. And I couldn't eat chicken.

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    1. I hear you're more sick with girls. My friend Sarah was really sick with all three of hers! I've been so blessed to not be sick. I could, however, own stock in Tums! Also - I have a weird aversion to chicken wings. Don't ask me why, but the thought of them disgusts me!

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