Pregnant?

Have you been silently hoping you didn’t get a period?  2 weeks after ovulating and hoping magic happened? In fact getting pregnant is not an easy science and you have a very small window of perfection to make things happen.  Which also includes both parents being relatively healthy in more than just reproductive ways.  The 2 week wait. (TWW).  New to me this pregnancy, the two weeks after ‘trying’ can be really unpleasant.  If you aren’t trying you may be completely unaware, and this, could actually make things easier for conception because your stress levels are lower.

The Two Week Wait –

These are the 2 weeks following potential conception.  Weeks 1 and 2 of pregnancy officially are the first two weeks after your period.  Day 1 of week 1 of pregnancy is the first day of your period.  So this whole month is counted as a pregnancy month.  The 2 weeks after conception, when you’ve maybe figured out your ovulation signs, tracked your cycle, used BMT or ovulation sticks, you might be thinking…

  • Am I feeling pregnant? What does that feel like?
  • I’m super tired it must be…
  • I can’t run as fast….I must be pregnant.
  • Should I make changes to my diet already? Wait, what changes?
  • I actually don’t want to get excited because I don’t want to feel sad if I’m not….
  • ‘Oh maybe this time?’
  • ‘If not this time, what is wrong with me?’

Week 3 you’ve had sex and hoping you are pregnant – oh and week 4.  That’s a long 2 weeks.  Every month if it hasn’t been happening.  It can really take over how you feel for quite a long time.

If your thoughts and concerns (and anxiety) are hard to manage – see your GP.  Ask questions, ask them all.

First Trimester –

Weeks 1-4 have been a long 4 weeks, then, you have 9 lovely weeks of maybe feeling utterly shit and not feeling able to tell anyone about it (apart from your other half) because you’re scared that you could miscarry and we’re not meant to talk about that?! (Not true).  Week 4 and maybe 5 you are silently and unpleasantly waiting for confirmation that your tiny human is growing and not until week 12 (UK standard NHS first scan) is when you get to see if baby is ok and moving around in your belly! (Uterus – very low down…not central in your belly like Hollywood would make you believe).  You could have got a scan at 8 weeks privately if you felt the need to check things out.

However, the feelings, sensations, thoughts and advice around this period is hugely conflicting and of course unique to each person.  You are probably excited, nervous, happy, terrified and that’s just how you feel about the pregnancy let alone what you should be doing to keep you and baby healthy at all, how about when exercising?!

Biology of first trimester

– Baby is growing from a tiny poppy seed to a blueberry (week 6), a canapé (week 9),

– By week 12 baby has all organs, features, fingers and toes and is the size of a macaroon.

– Placenta has grown (a separate organ) by week 12.

– By week 12 placenta takes over hormone production and supplying baby with needs (taking pressure off you directly, particularly with hormone production).

– Heart is working harder, which means this impacts on your ability to exert as much effort as normal.  Increased heart rate means breathing can become more difficult.

– Moving around generally feels slower.

– Relaxin a hormone really only a problem in pregnancy, means you can become more flexible at your joints than normal – which can cause you injury/damage.

-Your heart is working extra hard to pump more blood to building a human.  Making you more tired.  Making easy things harder.

-Your lungs are trying to keep up with your heart pumping blood around, so you may feel out of breath.

 Exercise in the first trimester –

The advice for first trimester exercise is pretty simple, but can be overruled by how you feel.  The advice around exercise during pregnancy for my first pregnancy (only 3 years ago) was limited, weak and I spent a LOT of time googling and finding contradictory advice.  I was a PT at the time, but didn’t see a pregnancy specialist and taught myself as I went.  But, I didn’t know enough!

The kind of simple short ‘can I exercise’ answer is:

1. Yes – Listen to your body and rest if you need to.

2. Yes – Carry on as normal.

3. Yes – but if you are new to exercise, seek advice and start gently.

4. No – if a doctor has told you not to (you may have to ask).

This time around…The grand old year of 2021! HURRAY!!  The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has actually put together a poster that INCLUDES muscle strengthening exercises!  I interpret this as: weights, body weight, not just walking and gentle movement.  All the ‘oh, should you be doing that’ comments in the gym or in a class – YES YOU FUCKING SHOULD!

https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/patients/patient-leaflets/physical-activity-pregnancy/

What can prevent you wanting to exercise in your first trimester:

1. Morning (all fucking day) sickness.  In my first pregnancy – the ONLY thing that made me feel better from sickness was exercise.  This time around, it helps but some days, I just can’t do a single thing.

2. Food aversion – which makes you feel weak because maybe you aren’t eating much and worried you could do ‘damage’ if you are exercising too?

3. Extreme hunger – similar to above.  If you are not sure how to manage nutrition and feel scared about exercising, you may not be inclined to exercise to protect yourself.

4. Hormones raging causing mood fluctuations that feel out of control while also feeling immediately reactive rather than being able to tolerate bullshit.  May make you feel extra sensitive and less motivated – but this is actually a good reason to exercise and balance out your inner rage and hormone fluctuations.

5. Tiredness/exhaustion – why would you want to exercise?

6. Breathlessness – are you scared because of this?

7. Fear of not knowing if your baby is developing ok and that you are ‘allowed’ to exercise.

How to manage first trimester exercising, when you haven’t told anyone!

Given that you are not talking to anyone about being pregnant, you probably don’t want to tell a stranger at the gym (your class instructor).  You are feeling nervous and uneducated because gyms still don’t have standard pregnancy and postnatal classes (FFS) and you have to find specialist classes (ridiculous), what do you do with your exercise routine in the first trimester?

There are 2 stances –

  • If you already workout and have a regular workout pattern – continue to do so.
  • If you have not exercised regularly/recently, start slowly and with guidance.

My experience from first and second pregnancy is that class instructors, whether you know them or not are very discreet, especially if you tell them in a ‘so I’m very early pregnant and keeping it quiet, but just so you know….’  It’s weird telling a fitness instructor before your friends and family, but it is the best way to keep you safe.

Your body will also tell you what is what.  If you are working too hard, you will not be able to carry on.  If you are struggling with a ‘normal’ exercise, its your body telling you to pull back.  Taking the easier option doesn’t mean you are losing anything – you are growing a human.  Its ok!

Absolute MUSTS from my perspective:

TELL YOUR PT OR CLASS INSTRUCTOR. No matter how early, how nervous, how you don’t want to tell them before your family.  Because – if you’ve turned up to a hiit class, or a class with high intensity – you don’t want to be do doing 100% work. 70-80% is fine, but your trainer needs to know your situation.  The trainer also needs to offer you options if you’re struggling, in the context of YOUR situation. They may advise no lying down, no crunches, no twisting (not necessary for first trimester) but if you look to be struggling or if you are new, they may be over cautious and rightly so.

DO NOT WORK AT 100%.

SLOW DOWN: if you struggle to breathe, or find something uncomfortable.

When to stop exercising.

I may have jumped the gun a bit.  I’m assuming that if you’ve taken a pregnancy test, you have been to the GP!  The GP will start the process of setting up your maternity team and appointments.  This.  Should happen before exercising.  When you have your GP appointment, you should ask if exercising is ok for you to do.  The GP won’t just tell you because as we know, it’s not that normal for medical professionals to be exercise experts!

Pregnancy can cause some really major body changes, aside from the fact that you are growing a human.  You may historically or currently have a health condition that must be monitored more so than normal.  You may develop a health condition that must be monitored more so than normal.

Exercise affects heart, lungs, oxygen and fluid around the body.  Subsequently, even if you think your medical history won’t be a problem, you should check with a medical professional and let your exercise instructor know.

If you at any point when exercising feel light headed, out of breath, like you need to stop.  Just stop.  Do not push through.  The first trimester is such a precious time that you don’t want to push yourself when you are trying to GROW A HUMAN!

Summary –

If you are already exercising, tell your instructor but carry on.

Do not exercise to 100%.

If you are new to exercise, start slowly and with advice.

The first trimester is really precious and can be scary.  Do what feels comfortable for you.

Some links that might be useful –

Sadly, even when gyms were open and normal, they often don’t accommodate for pregnant or postnatal classes.  If they do, they are definitely not accommodating for pregnant or postnatal people who work or have actual lives (with children) to manage.  Here are some advice and tips, including my own website to see different approaches.  There will be specialist pre and postnatal specalists in your area if you look.

https://www.nhs.uk/pregnancy/keeping-well/exercise/

https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/beauty/fitness-wellbeing/g32168109/best-pregnancy-fitness-classes/

https://www.powex.co.uk