The first thing I heard was “Oh, so you’re going to stop running now.” My answer: “Umm..No”
What people don’t understand is that when your body is used to moving and exercising then it can keep on doing that when you’re pregnant. Sure you have to back off a bit, but your body won’t allow you to overdo it. Your body will tell you when you’re tired and the key is to listen to what it's saying. Pushing yourself too hard can be harmful, and too intense exercise without proper hydration can lead to dehydration, especially when pregnant - so there are things to be aware of, but you can keep exercising as normal! Just keep that water intake around 10-12+ glasses a day when working out.
The second thing people kept telling me that I shouldn’t let my heart rate go higher than 140 beats per minute.
This is a very old fashion rule and strict limitations as such have long passed. Instead of focusing on the number of your heart rate, know the signs you should look for in your own body. Your heart rate might be higher naturally when pregnant, so a better way to gauge the safety of your intensity is through the talk test; you should be able to carry on having a normal conversation throughout your most strenuous exercise. My doctor recommended that I ensure that I can keep a good conversation whilst running and to drink water throughout my workouts to prevent dehydration. Know your normal heart rate and gauge your workouts according to what your body is used to.
What was your exercise routine before becoming pregnant?
Before I became pregnant I tried to do at least 150km-250km per month. It consisted of a weekly mix of long and shorts runs with at least 2-3 trail runs a week. It's funny actually, I was supposed to start with a new coach the month I found out I was pregnant. This put all my plans on hold a bit, but I believe everything happens for a reason. Who knows, maybe running while pregnant is making me stronger and more tolerable for what is to come in the future – I hope it makes me a stronger runner, and I think it will!
What does your exercise routine look like now?
In my first trimester and the first half of my second trimester, I kept running my normal program. I tried to log at least 100km per month. This proved to be very challenging as my body was clearly tired and working hard making a human. I made a change and opted to have a good active week, followed by a rest week. My pace was a lot slower than normal and in my last part of my second trimester, I felt super strong, reaching my pre-pregnancy pace again! I did, however, have to settle for shorter runs not exceeding 6km to do what's best for my body.
What has been the biggest challenge in pursuing physical fitness and exercise during pregnancy?
Doubt and criticism. I have to say these two things have been plaguing me throughout my whole pregnancy. As an Athlete, you know what your physical capabilities are but people always have a way of telling you how they see things. I have been getting comments from family, friends, and people that don’t even know me, all with no prior experience or medical background. I’ve even had people drag my husband into the conversation - confronting him, telling him ‘How can he allow me to do this to our baby…’ It's disheartening and even though we know it's safe for me and our baby, we feel as though we can't tell people about it because of that judgment. It's hard to know how to keep defending yourself against it all.
My biggest worry is not that I think I’m doing anything that is harming my baby, but that if my baby is born with any complications or if something goes wrong that has absolutely nothing to do with running, people will probably blame it on the fact that I was running throughout my pregnancy. That's why this campaign that's working to dispel these myths is so important to me. It's a bigger conversation.
How did you overcome this challenge to Shape Your Pregnancy?
As I started sharing my pregnancy I started receiving a lot of positive feedback and responses from other Mommy Runners and Pregnant runners. I realised that I kinda had to keep going, just because I was clearly not alone in this anymore and that speaking out and sharing my experiences helped other pregnant runners to feel confident and also continue doing what they love. I have two people I listen to and one whose word I’ll take above all and that is my doctor and the other is a close family member who is also a doctor. If there is ever any uncertainty, I’ll always ask them first.
What message would you want to share with other expecting and new moms?
I would say that sometimes you have to tune it all out. Grin and bear it when people make comments but trust that you know what you know, especially when it's backed by credible resources. Educate yourself and do what you know is best for you and your baby. In the end you’re the only one living in your body, and when you take care of yourself you know you’re taking care of your baby. Use the available resources out there and connect with other fit-mommy-to-be’s and shape your pregnancy the way that works for you.
Do you use Baby2Body? Feel free to share any thoughts or experiences you’ve had with Baby2Body so far.
I love reading the stories and articles on the Body2Baby website as well as following them on Instagram. The other ladies I find under the #shapeyourpregnancy hashtag has been very inspiring and it helps me stick to my goals when I feel like all hope is lost!