The Pregnancy Chronicles – Exercising in the First Trimester
I have to admit that I’ve been blessed with a pretty safe, normal pregnancy so far. But that’s not to say I haven’t felt the little aches and pains that come along with growing a tiny human! As a prenatal personal trainer, I thought you might be interested in the various stages of my pregnancy and what kind of exercise I did in each trimester.
Today I’m starting with the first trimester!
The first trimester is no joke. The fatigue crushes you, barely getting you through the day. The nausea and/or morning sickness (which I thankfully didn’t have to experience) can wreak havoc on your body. Add in all the other little tweaks to your body, paired with the typical practice of keeping the pregnancy a relative secret to the entire outside world, and you’ve got a recipe for a wonky few months.
I started out my first trimester with the best of intentions, and I will brag for a hot second that did a pretty good job at maintaining my typical workout regimen. Here’s what I did and the modifications I took:
Before getting into it, remember that each pregnancy is completely different, with possible limitations. ALWAYS consult your doctor, whether you are pregnant or not pregnant, before beginning an exercise program. What works for one may not work for another. Listen to your body and be safe!
- Running. I continued to run but with these modifications: switched to indoor treadmill running (it was still summer in Miami, so it was definitely too dangerous to be in the heat outside), s l o w e d my pace down to keep my breathing in check, and eventually threw in a few walk breaks to let my heart rate settle down. I tried to fit in some cardio every other day.
- Pure Barre. I continued to take class with no modifications through the first trimester. There were days where I was seriously sluggish and was counting down the minutes, but I kept my twice weekly class attendance going.
- Strength training. This was where I felt the pregnancy pinch the most. Pre-pregnancy I would incorporate intervals and circuits, throwing in some mountain climbers, burpees, battle ropes, etc. But the moment I started with any of those, my heart rate skyrocketed and I just felt like it wasn’t worth the risk. I know some people would continue on with those moves, and eventually find modifications for them, but safety was my priority. I also had to slow down the pace of my strength training a bit, since the fatigue would keep me in a relative fog. I aimed for strength training two times per week.
My advice for any of you out there exercising in your first trimester?
Do what makes you comfortable. Yes, you don’t need to do many, if at all, modifications in the first trimester. But if you feel worse after your workout than before you started, you have to make a change. Workouts should be kept short and sweet, leaving you feeling accomplished, not spent.
Work on an attitude adjustment. I started out the pregnancy with a great outlook, seeing life through rose-colored glasses, thinking I could keep most of my workouts like I was used to pre-pregnancy. But as the weeks went by and my body really started changing, I had to adjust.
This weighed on me (literally!)–I was yearning for my old, sweaty workouts. I hate to admit it, but it made me pretty sad thinking about it.
I’ve since embraced the pregnancy process and I know that solid workouts are on the horizon–they’re not gone forever!
Congratulations to those of you exercising through your first trimester. Pregnancy is such a special time. It’s crazy to see what the human body can accomplish in so few months!