Diary of an Athlete – What’s it like to do sport during pregnancy?
Yes! We’re pregnant! 😊
I never doubted that I would work out during pregnancy - I'm the sporty type! In fact, I wouldn’t know myself without sport... When I found out that I was pregnant, I felt great and thought, sure, everything will go according to plan.
But guess what... the nausea and extreme fatigue of the first trimester came on fast... and on top of the obvious challenges that come with these unpleasant side effects, I found it difficult to face the fact that I had neither the energy nor the desire to do sports. Even before I had a pregnancy belly, I’d come back from a walk as if I’d just run a half marathon. And bodyweight training suddenly become so hard – and I’m someone who used to regularly work out with weights in the gym.
What was going on here? Would I not be able to train for nine months?
Luckily, the fatigue passed, and so did the nausea. As I progressed into the second trimester, I felt like I was coming back to myself. The forced ‘break’ had done its thing, and in any case, I didn’t plan to return to the training intensity and weights I was used to before I fell pregnant; I knew that this was not the time to push my training to its limits, and even though it was one of my favorite things, I was just so happy to get back to it at all that I wasn’t too bothered about how fast I was running.
These days, listening to my body has taken on an even greater and more significant meaning – I’m literally training with a finger on my pulse (because even the maximum pulse rate permitted during pregnancy is lower than before).
It is actually recommended for pregnant women to engage in physical activity; the ACSM* recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, in a combination of both aerobic and resistance activities. It’s also recommended to incorporate daily pelvic floor exercises. So, it’s worth finding solutions for an activity that both suits the way you feel and is in line with recommendations about exercise during pregnancy. (Of course, everyone makes their own choices, often depending on the type and level of activity they were used to before their pregnancy.)
So, what are good, pregnancy-friendly workout options?
In addition to strengthening your main muscles, it’s worth adding in some work on your pelvic floor muscles, pelvic motility and balance. From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that working more specifically on my pelvic floor muscles and adjusting my strength exercises has significantly improved the pelvic pain I was experiencing.
So, what’s it like to do sports during pregnancy? Well, sometimes it flows more smoothly, and sometimes it’s more of a slog. But it’s crucial to be attentive to your body and find the right type of activity at every possible stage and in each workout. And don’t forget to stop to enjoy that ‘after’ feeling - you know, that ‘high’ which reminds us why we do it, how fun it feels to have worked out, and how important it is to work out again, soon! So, give yourself a huge pat on the back after every workout, because honestly, you deserve it!
Make sure to invest in some comfertable and high quality maternity sport wear to ensure you get the best workout you can!
*ACSM - American College of Sports Medicine
All information, recommendations and content presented in this article is general and does not constitute personal advice. This information should not be construed as a personal recommendation. Use of the information and recommendations is the sole responsibility of the user.
Yael Yellin Sedbon, Clinical Dietitian and Sports M.Sc
Israeli champion and former player on the Israel national beach volleyball team
Written in the second trimester of pregnancy