Claire Martin-Royle is a qualified pre and postnatal exercise expert. Now a mother of two, with just 18 months between her babies she shares her tips for continuing to enjoy pregnancy exercise right through her third trimester!
At the time of writing this I’m at my due date awaiting my little girl’s arrival, but still active. That’s not to say I find exercising easy at the moment. Even as a pre and postnatal exercise specialist staying fit throughout your pregnancy, and particularly in your third trimester, is a challenge. In the final three months my bump has grown significantly, and the tiredness and nausea have kicked in again.
So how do I stay motivated? I remind myself why I am staying fit and active. My reasons include:
Being active during pregnancy is not just about my health but also benefits my baby. Studies have shown that a fit pregnancy gives your growing baby a little workout too, helping her to prepare for labour, improving her intelligence and promoting a calmer attitude post birth.
At 40 weeks pregnant I can still lift and carry my 18-month-old toddler, get down onto the floor and play trains (and get up again!), bath him etc. I would hate him to miss out.
Staying fit whilst pregnant is giving me the best chance of an easier labour (nothing is guaranteed and even after my first fit pregnancy I had a long labour with a big baby, but I want to improve my odds!)
Exercising is my “me time” – simply concentrating on my workout helps me to de-stress and feel better about myself overall, even with my inevitable pregnancy weight gain.
By continuing to exercise throughout my pregnancy I have the best chance of a faster recovery post birth. With two under two (my first will be only 18 months old!) it’s likely to be hard so I want to give myself the best possible chance of recovery now!
So, what does my exercise routine look like in my third trimester? I’ve had to continue to adapt and modify, even as my third trimester has progressed.
The best advice I can give anyone exercising throughout pregnancy is to listen to your body and stop or modify your workout if what you’re doing feels uncomfortable or you are taking too long to recover from the workout (it should take no more than 20 – 30 minutes to recover). Exercising in pregnancy from week one to week forty is about maintenance, not achieving personal bests.
At 8 months my regular pregnant runs became more difficult. The weight of the baby on my pelvis meant I needed to pee five minutes into the run and it stopped being fun. Instead I switched to training on the cross trainer or wave machine at the gym, walked or did hybrid exercises at home to get my heart rate up.
I did a lot of resistance training through my pregnancies, both bodyweight and with weights. The weight I lift has decreased and I do less reps and sets, but I continue in my third trimester and am still reminding my muscles how to lift and retain my core strength.
To keep it interesting and avoid exhausting one muscle group I often do hybrid moves which provide a full body workout or workouts focused my entire upper body or lower body rather than concentrating on say just biceps and triceps. I include days to work my back and core too.
I still work out at least 5 times a week for about 30 minutes each time. On the days that I do not work out I make sure I fit in a leisurely stroll.
If you are just starting to exercise in your third trimester you need to take it slow and ideally speak to a qualified prenatal trainer. If you’ve been exercising in your first and second trimesters, then try to keep going. Studies have shown that you only really get all the benefits of exercising if you can keep going up to your due date. Just keep modifying and listening to your body as to what feels ok. Again, if you are unsure speak to a specialist. Good luck!