You have made it to the final leg of the race…ahem…journey of pregnancy! In some ways, that journey has gone by all too fast and at times (especially in those last few weeks) is seems really slow. It is amazing over the course of nine months, how your baby has grown into a fully functioning human inside of you!
Around the sixth month, running began to get slightly uncomfortable. At the start of the seventh month, I was able to make few modifications. For a couple of weeks, I resorted to only uphill running. I discovered that running uphill was much easier on my pelvis and joints and I could run without the “pressure” I experienced while running on a flat surface.
After several weeks of modified uphill running, I began to feel pressure even while running uphill, so I decided to stop running all together. I tried the elliptical and realized how great it felt compared to running. From this point on, I substituted my running exercise with 3x (30-40 min) of elliptical work per week. I was still able to ride my bike on the trainer, swim and strength train.
I personally know people who have run all the way until the 37th or 38th week of pregnancy and I have trained with friends who have stopped running at 18 weeks into their pregnancy. I advice that you listen to your body and trust your intuition on when is the right time for you to stop running or continue running throughout pregnancy. It’s also important to communicate with your doctor about your exercise program and modifications that you are making along the way.
Over the course of the next twelve weeks, my belly continued to grow with the exponential growth of my baby. After week 30, babies grow an average of ½ pound per week! That is really an amazing amount of growth for a little human. In just a few months, babies grow from 1.5 pounds, all the way up to 7 or 8 pounds when they are ready for birth. I noticed that this huge growth spurt in the third trimester caused my swimming to significantly slow down in the eighth month. My swimming became work just to move my body through the water and I began focusing on simply enjoying the movement. I no longer worried about paces or swim intervals. Later into the pregnancy, the swimming felt really good on my body, especially as I entered into the ninth month of pregnancy. I delivered in the summer, so there was nothing better than getting into a cool pool on a hot day. Remember that as your belly grows, you will slow down and know that’s okay. If you start to feel like you have done too much, take the time to relax and enjoy a massage or an afternoon nap.
I had to make a few adjustments on my bike trainer as my belly continued to get bigger and bigger! I modified my bike to a more upright position, so that I did not have to lean over. This change made room for my legs to prevent hitting my growing belly. Similar to the other trimesters, I felt so much better continuing to move my body and stay active during the pregnancy.
I heard of many women struggling to sleep in the final trimester of pregnancy. After I adjusted to sleeping on my side, I felt fortunate that I continued to sleep great (even better than when I was in intense training cycles). Of course, there were nights I would have to use the restroom twice a night, but I usually could fall right back asleep. There were a few nights I woke up hot and found that a cold shower did the trick to help to fall back asleep. Those rare mornings when I woke up tired from a bad night of sleep or simply the pregnancy catching up with me, I toned down the exercise the next day. Those days, however, were few and far between. I experienced much more fatigue in my first trimester of pregnancy.
Every doctor visit, my blood pressure continued to stay in a very healthy range, I was not retaining any water (even on the 90 degree days), and felt like I still had lots of energy. I attribute my healthy pregnancy with continuing to stay active and focusing on a healthy diet throughout the nine months. Remember, if you are able to stay happy, healthy and strong; your baby will also benefit from the rewards! Remember to enjoy the time with your partner, family and friends. During the final months it is normal to get anxious and nervous about the changes ahead and the delivery of the baby. I found those anxieties can be calmed by sticking with your workouts, spending quality time with family and preparing your mind and body by enrolling in a child birth class.
Before you know it, you will meet your little miracle!