While the title to this post is quite a claim, I couldn’t help it— after my 10th conversation this month with someone asking me if I was slowing down now that I’m in my third trimester, I realized we have some popular culture educating to do.
Note that when I talk about exercise intensity, I’m talking about a few things—how often a pregnant woman is exercising, how long she’s exercising for, and finally how hard she’s exercising. Most specifically this post is referring to frequency and duration.
Here’s what most people think exercise intensity looks like during pregnancy:
Popular opinion hold that as a woman progresses through her pregnancy, she slows down. She starts off active, but as she approaches the third trimester, she will exercise less and less.
But here’s the secret—we’ve found among our clients and other active pregnant women, the INVERSE is actually true. Take a look at what it actually looks like:
The most inactive time during pregnancy is often the FIRST trimester, and the third trimester is often the most active—it’s the OPPOSITE of what most people think.
This is true for a few reasons:
1- The first trimester is when many pregnant women often feel most tired and physically ill (morning sickness).
2- Active women discover it’s during exercise when they often feel their BEST—so as they go through their pregnancy they want to exercise more and more to alleviate pregnancy complaints (swelling, lower back pain, sleeplessness).
3- There’s nothing like knowing labor is on the horizon to motivate a woman to workout! As women approach the third trimester they often want to prepare for the extreme sport of childbirth.
4- Realizing their alone time is dwindling can be a supreme motivator for third trimester moms to exercise. We watch women up their class attendance to 3 to 5 times a week in the last trimester. You’d think they’d be too busy with pediatrician interviews, childbirth classes and baby showers, but it’s not true. Women in their third trimester who have been exercising throughout their pregnancy actually exercise more and make time for it in their last weeks!
I’ve certainly found that my experience matches the second graph chart—I’m significantly more active than I was 4 or 5 months ago. And I don’t see myself “slowing down” anytime soon—exercise has become my number one tool to deal with the pain and discomfort of pregnancy (and I’ve still got a few months of those left!).
Did you stop or slow your exercise in the third trimester? What would your graph of exercise intensity during pregnancy look like?
Kathleen Donahoe is co-owner and Senior Instructor at ohbabyfitness.com