Remember that every pregnancy is unique. The amount and variety of exercise you do while pregnant depends on your fitness and should always be approved by your doctor.
This spring, my little family of three will become a family of four. So far, I've been lucky to be able to maintain an active pregnancy where I can get out and run, bike, swim and ski.
Month 1: I didn't know I was pregnant yet. So, I went out and won a mile race, and did two 100km group rides. All was good, but the second ride was a lot slower (and tortuous) than the first. Hmmm, I wondered…?
Month 2: I found out I was pregnant. Amazing! But unlike my first pregnancy – when I felt pretty good – I felt awful. The nausea was unbelievable. Training is hard when you can't eat anything but toast and tea. But dragging myself out the door to run made my day better, so I persevered. There were many days I didn't want to leave the house. And on some of those days I didn't. Because I couldn't. As an athlete accustomed to a challenge, this is a hard reality to face.
Month 3: I was still nauseated all the time. If anything, I was worse. In all, I suffered nine straight weeks of 24/7 nausea and went a month without eating anything green. There was no escaping the sickness and my mood suffered as a result. However, getting out on a bike or running in the morning helped boost my spirits and increase my appetite, just a little. So, I trudged on.
Month 4: I could eat veggies again! My diet improved, the nausea faded, and my energy started to come back. Even before my nutrition improved, I noticed that all of a sudden I actually wanted to run. I hadn't felt this in months! I even started cooking again.
Month 5: My last pregnancy was in the summer – which is much easier to dress for as a pregnant athlete. But in the winter, appropriate gear is harder to come by, when you have to consider the temperature. I was forewarned during my last pregnancy that overheating is dangerous, but with regular temperatures hovering around 0⁰C, there is less worry of that!
As always, I pay close attention to my heart rate, my breathing, any discomfort (no matter how minor), and I rely heavily on my intuition. It feels great to be able to run while growing a tiny life; it makes me feel powerful to be able to support us both. My speed may not be increasing (quite the opposite), but I feel I get stronger all the time. It is a great indication of how well-suited the body is to running, even during this most important period for a mama-to-be.
I'm also enjoying a weekly swim, which is a lot easier on my body (bladder included!) and helps stretch out a growing belly.
I feel very fortunate, once again, to be as active as I am, and I'm encouraged by so many other mamas and mamas-to-be that are out there running, swimming and riding. The outcome is so positive for mother and child when they are able to maintain an exercise program throughout pregnancy. For me, running, swimming, and biking allows me to be my best self, pregnant or not. And I don't always need to shoot for personal records, I just have to keep moving forward, and all is good.