Active Pregnancy Guide – 2nd trimester

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Prologue

Whilst there is a lot of talk about postnatal exercise (which also drives me nuts!), there seems to be a lack of guidance during pregnancy. My Active Pregnancy Guide will give you the low down as simply as possible and hopefully you will grab some tips and be motivated to keep active! Regular exercise and eating a balanced healthy diet will help the development of the baby AND equip the mother’s body to do it’s job as best it can pre and post birth. Each pregnancy is different so you need to listen to your body and follow its lead. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. This is happening to you and it is your unique journey.

At this time in your life, many people will be telling you what is happening to your body and what you should or should not be doing. Whilst it in general is well meant, it can be extremely overwhelming. Providing you are listening to your body, be confident that YOU know best and follow your natural gut instinct.

 

2nd Trimester Context:

During the second trimester (14 – 27 weeks) whilst your baby continues to grow, this is ‘typically’ the most pleasurable phase of a pregnancy (having said this I know lots of Mums where this is not the case!). You are still expending HUGE amounts of energy as the baby sucks the nutrients from you in order to double in size, develop its nervous and cardiovascular system, grow its skeleton and sensory organs – and then the kicking begins!

This fab video from the Baby Center shows you the development through the 2nd trimester.

 

Symtoms:

As I mentioned before, this is typically the most enjoyable trimester as the sickness, soreness and extreme tiredness often subsides. You will start to see your bump appear in this trimester which, whilst is a crazy thing, is also lovely to see and experience. Many women report feeling energetic, healthy and very positive about their pregnancy at this point. I honestly felt like superwoman during my second trimester! If this is your experience, embrace and enjoy it!

Having said this, many Mums I know do not have this light relief in their pregnancy and I really feel for them. Even still, movement and exercise can help you.

 

Exercise facts:

In terms of cardiovascular exercise for the average women (i.e. not an athlete), at this point high impact activity is generally not advised as it puts too much pressure on your pelvic floor and can damage this vital part of your body. The weight of the baby is already putting extreme strain on the pelvic floor, bouncing around on top of this is only going to put it under more strain and can increase the risk of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

At 16 weeks the general guidelines also state that you should not lie flat on your tummy (not that you would want to unless you are crazy!) or flat on your back. This is not to say that if you wake up in the night lying on your back you should worry, its just that in this position for an extended time, the weight of the uterus can press on your major vein which returns blood from your lower body to your heart. It can also restrict the flow of blood to the placenta and baby.

 

Tips and advice:

My personal advice is to try and move/exercise daily during this trimester. If you are generally feeling good, make the most of it. Focus on;

  1. strengthening your deep core (pelvic floor, transverse abdominis, multifidus with diaphragmatic breathing)
  2. strengthening and correcting your posture
  3. strengthening your legs and glutes (bum)
  4. gentle cardiovascular exercise (brisk walking, swimming, recumberland bike, cross trainer)
  5. gentle short stretches for the body to open up tight and overused muscles

All these things will help to ease aches and pains and support your body as it grows and prepares for birth and perhaps more importantly, beyond birth! Although many women (the first time round) really focus on the birth, the ‘beyond’ part of your journey lasts a life time not just 40 weeks. I train women who did nothing on their first pregnancies, and then trained with me during their second pregnancy and the difference on how they feel and how they recover after birth is incomparable.

Now you have had the time to physically and mentally adjust to your ‘new’ reality, you will hopefully have more confidence in your body. Personally I exercised more frequently in my 2nd trimester than my 1st as the nausea and tiredness had disappeared.

I continued with walking daily, Pilates and Yoga classes (x2 per week), swimming (x1 per week), strength training and some cardiovascular exercises on the bike and cross trainer (x1 per week but not quite as consistent as the others).

All the exercise I did was tailored appropriately adapted. I.e. for Pilates I propped up my upper body so I was not lying flat, for Yoga I started going to Pregnancy Yoga classes and I did shorter sessions of strength and cardiovascular exercise.

My main piece of advise is to exercise and truly embrace this trimester. Always seek professional advice from qualified instructors on how to adapt appropriately. Even better if you can afford it, seek out pregnancy classes or train with a qualified and confident trainer. Remember, your focus on exercise has changed from before and your drive and aim to keep fit and healthy is totally different to everyone else who is not pregnant. Being surrounded by people in the same boat as you or who completely understands what is best of you at the moment is priceless.

 

 

PLEASE NOTE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE UNDERTAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR EXERCISE REGIME.

IF YOU FEEL DIZZY, UNWELL, BREATHLESS OR PAIN IN ANY WAY YOU SHOULD STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND IF THE SYMPTOMS PROCEED SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION.

 




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