Running Pregnant: Real Talk, Trimester II

I’ve officially reached trimester three of my pregnancy! Which means its time for “real talk” about the past three months running with baby.

If you read my original post Running Pregnant: Real Talk, which shares my experience running during my first weeks of pregnancy, you’ll find out that running wasn’t really happening. I had bleeding around week 14 of my pregnancy, which was really scary. Unsure if it was stress or exercise related, my doctor told me to stop running for a few weeks. The bleeding and spotting continued for almost 2 more weeks. After about 4 weeks later, and no bleeding, my doctor cleared me to start jogging lightly again. A week later, I felt like myself again and very slowly started incorporating more exercise into my weekly routine.

Running pregnant certainly has its quirks. I’m sure the areas I’m about to discuss have been shared numerous times, but every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. So let’s dig in…

Running During My 2nd Trimester

More Energy. It’s true what they say, and I’m definitely feeling it! I’ve been able to crawl out of bed and run first thing most mornings. During my first trimester, waking up early to exercise was low on the priority list.

Not only is my energy to exercise back, but I also felt more like my normal self. Naps have decreased (although I still take them as needed) and I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish more tasks around the house. I’m soaking up this energy before the third trimester really hits!

Invest in a Belly Band. I wear the AZ Med belly band on all my runs. It wraps around the lower part of my belly to provide extra support and prevent my belly from bouncing the entire run. It’s thin and lightweight too, so no one will notice you’re wearing it.

After visiting with my doctor recently, she also suggested I start wearing my belly band more throughout the day to help support weak abdominal muscles and relieve any back pain I may have during my third trimester.

Breakfast can wait. I love running in the mornings. Especially now, when its hot outside! But during my second trimester, my usual morning routine was starting to feel sluggish.

Starting in the second trimester of pregnancy, it quickly become very clear that digestion slows wayyy down. Which means my usual bowl of oatmeal, eaten 45-60 minutes before my run, was not enough time to digest anymore.

Running on a full, digesting belly is just plain uncomfortable. If I don’t allow enough time to digest the run goes a little something like this: 1. my whole abdomen pulls and feels tight while I run. 2. I feel extra pressure on my bladder. 3. Gas 4. The jostling of my belly is usually too much with digestion so I have to stop.

If I decide to run in the morning, I usually run on an empty stomach. If I’m going out for a longer run, I will eat my bowl of oatmeal and wait a whole two hours to digest before I take off. Two hours to digest seems to work well. Eating snacks during my runs hasn’t been an issue, so I also bring along a couple Honey Stinger Waffles and Energy Chews with me just in case.

I do run in the afternoon some days, but after eating half the day already, my stomach usually can’t handle it. I opt for a long walk instead on those afternoon days.

Heartburn. I have never experienced heartburn until I was pregnant. At first, tums provided some relief, but now they don’t really help at all. Some days, I will experience heart burn for hours, which is miserable! So, I’ve really tried to focus on avoiding foods (no matter how much I love them) that cause heartburn. I’ve tried my best to steer clear of chocolate, citrus fruits, onions (the worst), garlic and tomato sauce.

Another thing I’ve noticed about myself is that I’m a fast eater – which does not help the heartburn situation. Therefore, I’m also working on slowing my roll, otherwise heartburn wins.

Achy veins? With the extra weight I’m carrying and extra blood supply, I feel a lot of pressure in my legs and feet. Some days, my veins feel like they’re constantly pulsating, which worries me that I might develop varicose veins!

Thankfully, I have found a few remedies to be helpful in alleviating this pressure. Firstly, being active is crucial and after a run or walk, the pressure seems to go away. I also try to elevate when I’m sitting and stretch my calves as much as possible. My calves seems to accumulate the most pressure.

I also purchased compression calf sleeves. I have several pairs of full length compression socks, but the sleeves have been nice for summer. They also stay hidden when I wear jeans or leggings, which is nice.

Wear sunscreen. Running at a slower pace and walking longer distances, I’ve realized I am outside, exposed to sunlight a lot longer than I was before. I have to be good about wearing sunscreen! I use a mineral zinc oxide sunscreen to avoid harmful chemicals with baby as recommended. I don’t go anywhere now without it.

Hit the trails! Seriously though, pavement hurts. Even walking on pavement, my belly tightens and stretches because the impact on the hard surface jostles my belly. Running on trails is so gentle. I rarely feel my joints or any stress on my belly. I try to get out on the trails for all my runs as much as possible.

I have to pee. Another reason to hit the trails? You can pee whenever and where ever you want. These days, I usually stop to pee at least 1-2 times during a run. Recently, my husband and I ran a longer trail run in the Bighorn Mountains. I ran a solid 10 miles and I stopped to pee 10 times! That’s literally once every 15-18 minutes according to my pace! The pressure on the bladder is relentless ya’ll. Prepare for your runs if you’re not on trails. Make sure there is a gas station.. port-o-potty… or some place to stop along your route.

Listen to your body. During the first trimester, I kept my heart rate steady or below 140bpm. I was obsessing over heart rate so much that I actually feared I was going to hurt the baby if I pushed it any higher! However, as I’ve learned from my doctor (and countless research articles), heart rate limits are no longer a concern.

Sticking to 140bpm or less, I found my pace was awkward and I was compromising my gait to accommodate the desired heart rate. I was not having good runs. In fact, every run I that I was focused on heart rate, my belly ached and jostled more. I felt stretching and pulling when I ran. My gait was totally different which made things uncomfortable! Slowing down my pace too much made my belly bounce more which also made my joints hurt too.

I’ve learned my heart rate changes drastically day-by-day and it is not a good predictor of my effort at this point. Listening to my breathing and how my body feels is a more accurate gauge of effort. One good rule of thumb I follow: you should be able to carry on a conversation while you’re exercising. If you can’t speak normally while you’re exercising, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard.

If I feel tired after running up a hill, I walk. If I feel a pull or ache, I walk. If I’m just not feeling the run at all, I’ll walk back to my house or car and simply call it a rest day. Simply trusting and listening has been a healthier, realistic focus.

I once naively thought that I would be “that woman” running up until my due date. After experiencing bleeding during my first trimester, I realized running is no longer the goal. I am thankful for every run I am able to have and that’s it. I’m taking this pregnancy day by day, listening to my body and enjoying the little milestones baby has along the way. There will come a day where running will no longer be comfortable, and I’m ok with that.

Most importantly, I am SO excited to be a mom. Only 11 weeks to go and I feel fantastic! Stay tuned for third trimester “real talk” at the end of the summer.

Be Well,

Christina & Baby

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