Why Exercising in Your 2nd Trimester is Awesome

For most women (sorry if you are not most women), the 2nd trimester is a time of renewed energy.  Nausea usually subsides or at least only rears its ugly head when blood sugar is low.  In fact, the 2nd trimester is when most women feel up to easing back into a fitness routine.

This is the ideal time to solidify healthy habits so you can enjoy the many benefits of an active pregnancy throughout your pregnancy and beyond.

Here are just a few of the benefits of exercise during your 2nd trimester.

Prevent Gestational Diabetes
Regular exercise helps to regulate blood glucose levels and maintain a healthy pregnancy weight.  These are two of the gestational diabetes risk factors that we can control.  

Prepare Your Core
Your growing uterus puts pressure on your abdominal wall, pelvic floor and connective tissues. Now is the time to connect with and strengthen your deep core muscles like your pelvic floor and transverses abdominals.  Your 3rd trimester self will thank you.

Protect your back
As your uterus gets heavier it pulls your pelvis forward increasing the curve in your lower back.  Having a strong core (see above) helps to take the strain off your back as you progress through your pregnancy.  Strengthening your glutes, and stretching your low back and hip flexors will help as well.

 

Accolades for Exercise in the 1st Trimester

Did you know that the SOGC recommends that all healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies do both cardio and muscular conditioning exercises throughout each trimester?  It’s true! You can read their guidelines here.

So let’s talk about the benefits of exercise during the first trimester.

More energy
Many women report feeling extra fatigued during the first trimester.  No wonder! So much is happening during these 12 weeks.  During the first trimester, your baby grows faster than at any other time. By 12 weeks, your baby's bones, muscles and all the organs of the body have formed. All that embryonic development is taxing on mom’s body.

Here’s the good news: Many women find that exercise actually increases their energy. This is even more so if the exercise is outdoors and/or with others.  Try going for a light to moderate walk outside and test the waters.  How does it make you feel? If you find your energy improving, then take it up a notch to a brisk walk.
 
Less Nausea
Ok.  So we understand that there is nausea….and there is NAUSEA.  We are not suggesting you head out for a power walk with your barf bucket.   But lets say you have light nausea.  You might find that exercise helps to prevent, reduce and even curb the nausea all together.

Prepare your body
Though you may have been feeling tired and or nauseous, the major physical changes of pregnancy are yet to come.   Maintaining or gently improving your fitness levels now, will help you better deal with postural changes and muscular imbalances of the 2nd and 3rd trimester. 

Stress management
When do I tell my boss? What if I have a miscarriage? Where am I going to put a baby in my 600 square foot condo?  Confirmation of pregnancy, planned or not, can be a very stressful time.  Many women keep their pregnancies private for the first 3 months.  This means they often have to cope with this stress on their own.  Exercise is a proven stress buster.  Even more so if exercising with a like group or exercising outdoors.  

Safety First
Ready to get moving? Awesome.  Please be sure to listen to your body and talk to your healthcare provider before resuming or beginning a fitness program.  We also recommend reviewing the guidelines for exercise during pregnancy.

 

Overcoming Barriers

Research shows that certain barriers may hold pregnant women back from exercising throughout their pregnancies.  Fear, discomfort, younger children at home, lack of support from their partner and lack of role models are all common barriers.

What can women do to overcome these barriers?

Activity Patterns During Pregnancy (Mottola & Campbell 2003) found that factors correlated with women exercising throughout their pregnancies included post secondary education, no other children at home, being a non-smoker and regular involvement in recreational activities.

Education
Being aware of the benefits as well as the safety guidelines for exercise during pregnancy can reduce fear, increase awareness regarding potential reduction of discomforts through active living, and motivate partners to be more supportive.

Children
"In my experience, one of the most common and challenging barriers for second and third time moms is making time for fitness when they have a little one at home," says Fit 4 Two founder Melanie Osmack. Here are some creative ways to overcome this barrier:

Working Outside the Home Moms

  • Walk to and/or from work. 
  • Find a class or fitness facility close to work so you can do regular shorter workouts at lunch or right after work.
  • Schedule one night a week that your partner/friend holds down the fort so that you can enjoy the benefits and camaraderie of a prenatal fitness class
  • Invest in some basic home fitness equipment like a yoga mat and resistance bands.  Not sure what to do?  Book a session with a pre and postnatal fitness certified personal trainer to get your started on the right track.

Working in the Home Moms

  • Go for power walks or jogs with your young child in the stroller.
  • Take your child to the park and workout while they are playing.
  • Schedule one night a week that your partner/friend holds down the fort so that you can enjoy the benefits and camaraderie of a prenatal fitness class
  • Invest in some basic home fitness equipment like a yoga mat and resistance bands.  Not sure what to do?  Book a session with a pre and postnatal fitness certified personal trainer to get your started on the right track.
  • Join a mobile outdoor stroller fitness class that you can attend with a toddler.
  • Join a daytime postnatal fitness class while your child is at preschool.  Most postnatal fitness class instructors welcome prenatal women as well.

Discomforts
Pregnancy safe and specific exercises can actually help to prevent and manage many common prenatal discomforts.  Low back pain, the most common physical complaint of pregnancy, can be avoided and lessened through strengthening core muscles and stretching the lower back and hip flexors.  More details here.  An outdoor power walk has been known to ebb pregnancy-related nausea.  The list goes on.

Get Social
Prenatal specific fitness classes are a fantastic way to ensure a safe and functional workout.  However they are also an excellent way to meet other expecting mom, stay motivated and build community.  Feeling part of a group makes exercising regularly more likely.

What obstacles do you face and how do you overcome them?