As you might have seen, I rounded up my experiences of exercising in the first trimester in a separate post. This is the second trimester post, and then I have another one coming soon on the third trimester and beyond. This is just my way of sharing my experience of exercising throughout my pregnancy, and how this has changed as I have gotten further on and ever bigger.
As I did with the first trimester post, I wanted to start by saying I am not some kind of fitness expert, I am not at all qualified to tell others what to do, all I can say is what I have found so far. I may well look back after giving birth and wish I had done more of some things and less of others, but I can only tell you what I know now.
I would also say that I feel I have been exceptionally lucky through my pregnancy so far, in that I haven’t (touch wood!) had any health issues, and have managed to keep pretty active. Although my diet hasn’t been perfect I have been determined to get at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, and some days I just crave healthy stuff and so definitely pack in more than that. There are days when I just want to eat donuts, but it’s pretty rare that I give into that and although I’ve eaten more toast and jam than I normally would do, I feel overall that baby is probably getting a decent diet from me.
Now this might sound pretty boring, but not much changed when I hit the second trimester. The main difference has been that I have had a hell of a lot more energy in the first few weeks of the second trimester than at any point in the first trimester.I didn’t really realise until I came out of the major first trimester tiredness fog just how exhausted I had been feeling, and because I had been so determined to keep up appearances I did a lot of doing everything normally and then crashing on the sofa as soon as I got home! In the second trimester I think this was more rare.
In many ways I have felt better during the second trimester than I do in normal life. My IBS is pretty much non-existent, it’s curbed my allergies somehow so that makes day-to-day life more pleasant, and my immune system seems to be pretty effective in fighting off all the little niggly coughs and colds I am usually plagued with (touch every piece of wood everywhere).
I continued with one bodypump class a week, sometimes two if schedules allowed, and tried to make it to a barre class every couple of weeks. Still I carried on walking to/from work, and tried each week to add in a little walking cardio session with some extra weights at the gym.
Also at the beginning of the second trimester I dropped my bodypump weights ever so slightly. Only by around 0.5 to 1kg for each track, but it made a difference as I started to get a bump and doing things like clean and press started to feel like I was stretching too much with the slightly higher weight. I have kept my chest weight identical throughout, and at the end of the second trimester was still managing with the same weights as I was at week 14.
In actual fact I realised that with the weight gain from pregnancy (which really starts to kick in at about week 20 I think) I was actually working harder in my bodypump classes than I was in the first trimester! But I have always been careful to fuel up beforehand, drink lots during and after, plus have a snack after. I am also really mindful of not pushing my heart rate too high. This is not about weight loss, it’s about trying to maintain muscle and keep my body in the healthiest possible state for labour and recovery from birth.
The only issue I have had so far is with my achilles tendon. Turns out that loosening of ligaments during pregnancy basically picks on your weak spots. I sprained ligaments on both sides in my ankle about three years ago, and consequently it’s just not as strong as it could be and that’s causing me some discomfort. This problem also knocked my barre classes on the head which I am really disappointed about, but I am hoping to get back into them once I am a little bit used to being a mum. In bodypump I had to scrap the lunges for a few weeks, in the end I managed to get back up to doing a few but swapped the pulsing sections for squats with weights.
I have to be careful what shoes I wear and how far I walk. Five to six miles seems ok but further is hard and I will be sore the next day. As I got to the end of the second trimester and we had some warmer days, I found that at the end of a long day I even struggled walking the 1.5 miles home from work as it is all uphill, but I persevered. I have also swapped treadmill walking at the gym for the cross trainer to try and help my achilles. There are mixed messages about using the cross trainer beyond the second trimester as it does kind of have a twisting movement to it, but for now it feels good to me so I’m carrying on.
I definitely could still be doing more at home, for instance planking, using my resistance bands etc, but at this stage it sometimes feels like an effort to walk to work, get through the day and walk home again, so I am trying not to be too hard on myself if I don’t manage the ideal of 3-4 sessions of exercise a week, and keep reminding myself that walking counts as exercise too!
Towards the end of the second trimester I just started to feel…slower. At about 26 weeks my bump started to really pop, and some days my legs felt like lead walking home. At the end of the second trimester I was diagnosed as borderline anaemic and put on iron tablets, and these definitely helped with my lead-like calf muscles.
Apart from that, I feel like at the end of my second trimester not much had changed apart from the achilles problem, I have definitely still been enjoying exercising and sometimes dragging myself out for a walk or to the gym can make me feel 100 times better and less sluggish, so it’s become a go-to for me when I am having a tough day.
I’ll be back at the same time next week with the details on my third trimester exercising (so far!). I always feel like some sort of children’s TV presenter when I say ‘I’ll be back at the same time next week’, but hey, my aim in life was always to be a Blue Peter presenter so maybe that’s ok!