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The 2nd Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy Series

The 2nd trimester! Often known as the most enjoyable and when everything starts to get really REAL!

By weeks 13/14 many symptoms like fatigue and nausea have subsided with many women reporting that they have a newfound feeling of energy! (Not all women experience this and it’s ok—pregnancy is not one size fits all and we each have our own unique experiences.)

The 2nd Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy Series

You will most likely start to experience the beginning of physical changes like weight gain and increased breast size as well as the beginnings of round ligament pain as your abdomen starts to grow to accommodate baby. 

Disclaimer: Weight gain is a healthy part of pregnancy! As someone who has previously had body image issues and scale phobia this was stressful for me. I wish I would have not been so focused on this part of my pregnancy and enjoyed the changes of body rather than fearing them. Low weight gain pregnancies are often glorified or celebrated in social media- but this does not always equal a healthy lifestyle or pregnancy.

My best piece of advice here is that if you are worried about weight gain please talk about this with your doctor. Pregnancy is not the time to drastically alter or attempt new diets. Work with a doctor and a registered dietitian who can help you adopt strategic, balanced ways and views on food for overall health during this chapter. Always know there is support should you need it!

2nd Trimester Training Considerations

If your energy levels have returned chances are you’re ready to hit the gym or favorite exercise routine again and that’s great! As discussed in The 1st Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancythere are so many amazing benefits to strength training/exercising for mom and baby! 

However if the advice you’ve been given is to “keep doing what you’ve always done” or “listen to your body” I’m here to tell you it’s a bit more than that.

While well-meaning, it’s pretty generic advice especially for a body that changes by the minute. Also understanding and knowing how to listen to your body rather than pushing through symptoms we may have not experienced before is critical.

There is an abundance of amazing new opportunities to be creative to move your body in a way that supports you during this chapter of your life!

What are some common symptoms that may impact my training routine?

The 2nd Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy Series

Deeper look into round ligament pain: Round ligament pain is common and can be felt as a sharp pain or dull ache in the lower abdomen and into the groin. You may experience this getting up from sitting or rolling over in bed with the pain disappearing shortly after. Round ligament pain is typically a result of the ligaments of the uterus stretching as the size increases to accommodate our growing baby!

Remember to discuss these symptoms or any others with your doctor, midwife, nurse and/or pelvic floor physical therapist. 

What signs or symptoms should I be on the lookout for?

The 2nd Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy Series

A significant change in breast size as well as a growing baby bump could affect your body positioning (aka posture). I don’t believe there is bad posture but there is evidence to support that being aware of your body positioning can impact how you may be feeling!

Aiming for a neutralish body position with ribs stacked over hips and weight midfoot is a great place to start if you do start to experience lower back pain, hip pain, or upper back pain. If you are sitting all day schedule breaks every hour to stand up and stretch or check in with your body positioning.

One of my favorite stretches is the standing arm stretch that can be done on any wall or doorway! You may have your non-expecting friends join in because it feels that great! 

What training adjustments should I make?

The 2nd trimester we start to change things up based on goals, symptoms and individual considerations.

High impact activities like running or jumping may start to be dialed back in favor of low impact activities that place less stress on the pelvic floor. If you feel heaviness in your pelvic floor or leaking these are signs that adjustments should be considered. The opportunities are endless as far as what you CAN do during this time—even if you’re a runner. Adjusting and adapting during this changing season can often set us up for a better recovery postpartum. 

If you love high intensity training remember to utilize the rate of exertion chart provided in The 1st Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy. You can also find it linked here via the ACOG. Have your coaches check in with you to make sure you can still hold a conversation! If you feel dizzy or breathless that is a sign to stop and rest.

If lifting weights is your thing (hi that’s me!) you may start to adjust to using dumbbells or kettlebells instead of a barbell for Olympic lifts. Our growing baby bumps can impact the trajectory of the barbell which can be hard to fix postpartum. In addition, training with dumbbells and kettlebells adds a fun variability to strength training routines.

In addition to the above ensuring that you are able to breathe through movements rather than utilizing a breath hold is important. If you find that you need to hold your breath to move weight that is a sign that the load may be too heavy for right now. A breath hold strategy places additional pressure within our abdomen and pelvic floor stressing an already vulnerable area of our body during this time. Think breathing through the movement like inhale down in a squat and exhale to stand back up. 

Additional Training Strategies & Adjustments:

The 2nd Trimester: Navigating Fitness During Pregnancy Series

Final Thoughts and Tips

  1. Weight Gain: Find clothes that you feel good moving in and know that weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy. If you have health concerns, triggers due to eating disorders, or general overall anxiety please speak with your doctor and work with a Registered Dietitian who can support you as you navigate pregnancy changes.
  2. Movement: Don’t be scared to move during the 2nd trimester! There are lots of fear mongering pieces of advice on social media especially surrounding topics like Diastasis Recti. Often movements and exercise programs can be adjusted to progressively grow with you in a way that supports your changing considerations during pregnancy and postpartum based on your goals. There are movements that may need to be placed on hold for a bit (or dialed back) but remember it’s not forever. Chances are that you will not lose your athleticism if you train with intention and strategy that supports this current season.
  3. Mindset: Continue to write down in a gratitude journal what and how your grateful for what your body can do during this time! So often it’s easy for us to think of all the things we feel like we are giving up. There is so much opportunity to move and grow in strength and strategy! Keep the big picture in mind!

What do you love about movement in the 2nd trimester? 

Bigger changes are coming in the 3rd trimester! Stay tuned!

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