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Morgan's Pregnancy and Exercise Journey

As a trainer over the last 6+ years, I’ve developed a passion for empowering women to build confidence in themselves and their bodies through strength training. Women of all ages struggle with confidence and usually feel like they want to change something about their body. It’s my goal to inspire women to find movement that feels good to them and improves their relationship with their body. One specific group of women that I notice the most negativity about their bodies is pregnant and post-partum women. I’ve been working with pregnant and post-partum women throughout my career and have always loved it! There are so many emotions associated with your changing body and I love being on that journey with these women. I love that I can work with women to improve their strength and help prepare them for one of the greatest physical accomplishments of their lifetime. I also love being a part of the healing process after the baby comes! Now that I’m pregnant myself, I feel like I can relate even more so to this group of women. I thought it would be great to share my experience about exercising during my pregnancy in hopes that at least one other person can relate and feel inspired to find her confidence too!

In my opinion, growing and delivering a baby is an amazing feat that all women should be very proud of. Unfortunately, a lot of women struggle with their bodies during and after pregnancy. I believe this has a lot to do with society’s pressure to look a certain way even though you are growing a whole human being!! It always amazed me how hard some women are on themselves during pregnancy when so much is out of your control. I always promised myself that I would work hard to keep a positive relationship with my body during my own pregnancy. Prior to my own pregnancy, I was strength training twice per week, cycling 2-3 days per week, and practicing yoga 1-2 days per week. I ate pretty balanced meals that make sure I’m eating the necessary amounts of proteins, carbs, and fats to meet the demands I put on my body. I was feeling really good about my routine and my body and was in great shape! I found out I was pregnant very early on (about 4 weeks pregnant) before I had any symptoms associated with the first trimester. Lucky for me, I was able to keep up my routine for most of the first trimester. I didn’t suffer from morning sickness, but I did feel more fatigued than normal. Although I was more tired than normal, I made a point to maintain my exercise routine and eat as normally as possible to keep my energy levels up. I do want to acknowledge how lucky I was to not be sick at all, which helped me maintain my routine. I know that’s not possible for everyone. However, I am a believer in doing something is better than nothing. I do remember some mornings getting up to ride my bike and feeling like it took everything I had to just get on the bike. I know I didn’t have any record-breaking rides, but I got up and moved my body which I believe is better than nothing. I also had some strength training workouts that were shorter and not my best, but my body physically felt so much better afterwards! Overall, the first trimester didn’t feel all that different for me physically.

A question I get asked a lot is, “what do I have to do differently when it comes to exercising while pregnant?” As researchers spend more time on this topic, we keep learning that we don’t have to change too much. The research also continues to show how beneficial exercise is during pregnancy. There are a few changes to be aware of as you transition into your second trimester. Some of these include monitoring your heart rate, reducing pressure on stomach and abdominals, monitoring range of motion and a few other small adjustments. The style of strength training we use allowed me to continue my strength training workouts seamlessly. I continued to train twice per week, which is what I recommend to most of our clients. I was also able to keep up my biking and yoga throughout most of my second trimester. Unfortunately, towards the end of the second trimester, I started getting pelvic pain while riding the cycle bike. Over time, I decided to stop cycling due to the discomfort in my pelvis. I switched to making it a point to go for walks almost every day and keeping a good pace to keep my heart rate up and get my steps in. I want to pause here and mention I’ve always had a very positive relationship with my body. I’ve always been proud of the physical accomplishments I had and never had a negative relationship with food. I wouldn’t say the second trimester changed this drastically for me, but I did start to feel frustrations with my body while still being amazed that I’m growing a human. I would get asked “do you love being pregnant?” and honestly my answer is still “It’s ok because I’m so excited for the new addition, but being pregnant? It’s not my favorite.” I suddenly couldn’t hop on my bike or go for a jog during the summer, carrying laundry up the stairs made me so out of breath that I had to sit down, and I felt like everything I did I was being told to “be careful”. My saving grace was knowing that I could keep up my twice a week strength training and some yoga modifications to keep some of my routine. As a trainer, working out is a passion of mine, so not being able to do what I want was humbling.

Moving into my third trimester, I found my groove with strength training, walking, and yoga/stretching but my tailbone and pelvic pain started to get worse. I felt my tailbone after sitting, walking, or standing for too long. I was doing everything I could think of to help it. Even before pregnancy and throughout it, I saw a chiropractor every other week and receive 1-2 full body massages a month. When I brought my pain up to my doctor, she said it was part of my weight gain and my pelvis being tipped forward but that didn’t really sit well with me. Although I had gained a significant amount of weight, my posture had still been really good. Third trimester pregnancy can feel tough, or it did for me at least. No clothes fit, you’re tired, have heartburn, can’t put your shoes on without your belly getting in the way. I try not to get frustrated with my body, and my mantra has been “This is a phase, and it will be over soon” when I do get frustrated with my lack of ability to do things normally. While I had been figuring out what to do about my tailbone, I met a pelvic floor physical therapist through networking for work who offered me an initial evaluation, so I took her up on that. That was my game changer. Ladies, if you have any pelvic floor dysfunction associated with pregnancy, you need to see a pelvic floor PT. So many issues are common that they become normal, but they are NOT normal. You should not have tailbone pain during pregnancy, pee your pants when you sneeze, or have discomfort during bowel movements. She was able to find an internal muscle that was tight, give me some exercises to work on to reduce the tightness, AND she gave me some exercises and tips for preparing to push during labor. I’m feeling so much better as I head into week 37 of my pregnancy. I feel strong and as physically prepared as I can be for labor and delivery. I’m still strength training, walking, and stretching and plan to until I deliver.

I’m thankful for all that my body has done and that I’ve now experienced what I’ve helped so many other women through! Stay tuned for my post-partum experience and returning to exercise after baby!


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