Today marks 14 weeks pregnant.
Pregnancy number two has been different in a lot of ways. With Benji we went through IVF to conceive. Doctors couldn’t figure out why I was having so much trouble with my cycles and told us that without help it would take years to conceive. Luckily with the help of science our beautiful baby boy was born in December 2018.
I did not go through IVF / Fertility Treatments this time around. Since Benji was born I’ve worked with a functional doctor, a registered dietician, and sought advice from friends and colleagues with expertise in fertility, hormones, nutrition, and PCOS, a diagnosis I received after Benji was born. PCOS affects your cycles, ovulation, and can show up differently for different women. I couldn’t believe it had never been brought up to me previously.
I have spent the last year and a half removing areas of extreme stress from my life: dieting, extreme exercise (I keep my workouts at 45-60 minutes max on days where that time exists), a stressful job, and started working with a doctor that understood my whole health, and didn’t push a specific diet or medication. I’ve been on a supplement regime as well.
I have no idea if this was what made the difference, but I can say learning more about my body has been empowering. I am grateful and know that there are many women going through fertility treatments, IVF, or who are also struggling to get pregnant with PCOS. I see you. I support you <3
Body Changes in my Second Pregnancy
My body has changed a lot faster and I started showing earlier, which is very common in a second pregnancy. And with a rapidly changing and growing body I’ve found myself slowing down, taking breaks, and asking for help a lot. Chasing a toddler around is exhausting!
How does this impact my workouts? This means added rest time between exercises and sets, opting for lower impact options, and strategically selecting movements and workouts that serve my body where I’m at. I learned a lot during my first pregnancy, and my goal now is to move with intention and care so I can set myself up for an easier (if possible) labor and postpartum recovery 🙂
When it comes to training during my second pregnancy I’m focusing on seven areas, and I’m sure I’ll add more along the way.
Training Focus During My Second Pregnancy
Self Care and Rest
I’m not great at asking for help or taking a break. So, I’ve implemented a few questions I ask myself everyday.
- What does my body need right now?
- Who can I ask for help/support?
- Does my body crave/need rest or a workout (it’s ok to rest or say no to a workout class)?
- What self care practices can I incorporate that will help make my life and pregnancy more comfortable / easier?
During my first pregnancy I practiced yoga 3x/week. A regular practice helped me keep super tight muscles and aches at bay. Since heading to the studio isn’t an option these days, I’ve been making a few changes to my weekly routine.
- Include a warm-up and cool down as part of my workout. A warm-up is an essential part of every training session and key to avoiding injury. I like to also incorporate breathwork at the beginning of my workouts.
- Add a mobility routine to my weekly routine 2-3x/week. This can include movements from my warm-up, but also a few movements that just feel good. A few examples include cat/cow, Open Book (great for thoracic mobility), Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch, and a Supported Deep Squat, among others. These are a few of my favorite stretches.
- Yoga at home: I find practicing at home so challenging because it’s hard for me to turn my mind off from distractions. But, I’m lucky that I have a space and a body that can move on my mat. I’m trying to add an easy flow a few nights a week.
I’m spending a little bit of time everyday focused on breath strategy and tuning in to how my body responds with movement. How we breathe impacts how we perform, and maintains balanced pressure of our core system. A typical cue is to exhale on exertion / the hardest part of the exercise, but I actually feel more supported using a different breath strategy, particularly with certain movements. Training during pregnancy is not one size fits all, so experiment and find what works best for you.
I also love this breathing demo from Brianna Battles.
Tuning in / Listening to my Body
“Listen to your body” can often be a vague statement. After all, what should I listen for? I had no idea what this meant during my first pregnancy. Now, I’m a bit more aware of what to listen, watch, or feel for. My body is changing everyday and things are already starting to feel different. Symptoms or tendencies to watch for during pregnancy (a great list from Brianna Battles):
- Leaking urine (during impact, sneeze, or feeling an intense urge to go)
- Pelvic or vaginal pain, pressure, discomfort
- Hip, tailbone, lower back pain or discomfort
- Coning of the abdomen – common during pull-ups, rowing, push-ups, burpees, planks, or even just everyday activities.
- Breath holding
- “Pulling” sensation in the abdomen or pelvis
- Fatigue or dizziness
I also love the 4 P’s list from Jessie Mundell: Peeing, Peaking (coning), Pain, and Pressure.
The position of my body day-to-day during activities matters. There’s really no “perfect posture,” but ribs over hips allows our awesome core team to work most efficiently. I try to self correct when I feel myself standing in awkward positions, shifting all my weight to one hip, clenching my butt, rounding my shoulders, etc. I’m not perfect, but I’m a bit more in tune to my body in space.
I’m focusing on NOT comparing this pregnancy to my first. There are a ton of differences, the most obvious of which are I’m older, I have a very active toddler running around, and life is different (COVID is a good example). “Should” I be able to do X just because I did in my first pregnancy. Maybe, or maybe not.
Another area to remove comparisons is with other women or moms. Social media can create unrealistic expectations, particularly around “bouncing back” or “losing the baby weight.” Where did these phrases come from and why is there so much pressure to return to a pre-pregnancy body? Giving birth is a huge deal. Embrace your baby, body, and the time you need to heal, regain function, and feel good inside and out. Also of note – a lot of information shared is not true or backed by research. I always recommend consulting with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.
Preparing for Delivery & Postpartum
Did you know you could start prepping for delivery and postpartum during pregnancy?
A few ways include connecting to your pelvic floor (learning both how to release tension and contract), preparing your mind & body for labor, and learning and practicing pushing strategies in the third trimester. A Pelvic Floor PT and birth doula is a great resource for this!
Check out this great video interview with Anita (Holistic Health Physio) on preparing your pelvic floor for birth.
I’m heading into this pregnancy with new ideas and a fresh perspective. Stay tuned as I share updates along the way.
Have questions about training during pregnancy? I also cover a few in this Q & A blog post.