The Pregnancy Chronicles – Exercising in the Third Trimester
The third trimester. Your body doesn’t seem to be able to get any larger, yet there are THREE MORE MONTHS of growing left. It is at this point that the second trimester glow, that wonderful zone where workouts are pleasant and your baby bump is cute and manageable, starts to deteriorate.
My third trimester didn’t really go as planned on the workout front. My baby was breech as of 28 weeks, so I was desperate to get him to flip to a head-down position in time for delivery. What did that entail? Laying upside down off the couch, going to the chiropractor, getting acupuncture, putting ice on the top of my belly, doing handstands in the pool and headstands in the dining room–you name it, I tried it!
This grueling schedule of flipping attempts actually started to crowd out my workouts. By the time I was ready to workout, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
With a baby hanging up in my ribcage (I swear he was using my ribs as monkey bars), my breathing got exceptionally tight. I never had that “dropping” moment where the baby takes pressure off your lungs, so my workouts tended more to the weight training side and less to the cardio, heart pumping side.
Read on for my third-trimester workout program!
As always, 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!
–Walking. Notice I didn’t say running. The heaviness of my belly was wayyy too much for a run or jog. To try to compensate for that, I added in some hills while walking on the treadmill. When that got boring I’d take the dog on a longer walk (he loved me for that!). I honestly was moving just to feel better, not to really work out.
Pure Barre. I couldn’t do it in the studio anymore. I overheated in one class, which left me lightheaded–I did NOT enjoy that. After that incident I was a little nervous to continue on, and that paired with the intensive core work in class made me stay home for those workouts. As a Pure Barre teacher I did what I could with my body and worked out at home, which for me meant focusing on thighs and seat, with minimal core.
–Strength training. I tried to fit in some resistance training as much as I could. My shorter workouts focused on the upper body to try to maintain my arm strength, but unfortunately I barely got around to it due to exhaustion and my schedule.
–YogaGlo. A savior in my third trimester! I turned to YogaGlo’s gentler classes, hoping the poses might help turn the baby to the head-down position. It of course didn’t work, but I got some great stretching in on those days when I knew I didn’t have the energy for a cardio-based workout. **Side note–YogaGlo has great pre- and post-natal yoga classes on demand! I highly recommend trying them out.
My advice for anyone exercising in the third trimester?
Listen to your body. This is one of my favorite mantras, pregnant or not, because it is sooo important. Your body knows you best and will send signals when something just isn’t right. The third trimester is grueling and each day is literally an all-day challenge–don’t push yourself too hard! You’re in for a wild ride when the baby comes so this end of pregnancy should be exercise that feels good and never makes you feel worse.
Don’t beat yourself up. Oh man, I wish I took this advice! Reminiscing of workouts past made me feel SO limited in my final trimester. I felt like I couldn’t do anything I used to do! However, I did keep reminding myself that this state was temporary, the baby would eventually be on the outside of my body, and pretty soon I’d be allowed to workout harder.
If you don’t feel like it, don’t do it. This is the end, the final stretch! Take the time to lighten up your schedule and allow for rest and relaxation. When the baby comes it’s a whirlwind of exhaustion (aren’t I exciting you?!) so it’s nice to focus on the peace and quiet before this major life change. If this means you can’t prioritize workouts, don’t worry about it. You have bigger fish to fry!