Before we even began attempting to conceive, I was already trying to research online and see what I could find out about training while pregnant. I discovered two things: 1) I didn’t feel there was a lot of good, solid information out there that could be easily found and 2) there was a lot of differing opinions on the subject! Of course, a lot of it kept coming back to “ask your doctor.” I do agree with this and will encourage all of you to do the same. I’d like to also encourage you to find out as much research on the topic as you can. Knowledge should be used to guide your decisions. It is also important to listen to your body! Don’t underestimate the body’s ability to communicate when something is wrong. However, some may be more “in-tune” with their body than others when it comes to this. While I found some mothers wrote about what it was like having kids and competing, I could only find one who talked about what it was like training and being a new mother. However, it's tough to find anyone talking about training during pregnancy. Everyone always says to take it easy with exercise during pregnancy and to rest a lot. I wanted to know how much I could do, not what all everyone else thought I should not do. What have other serious triathletes been able to do during their pregnancies?
I can share my decisions that I made along the way, along with their reasoning, but it is up to you to decide for yourself what is best for you and your baby. Every pregnancy is different. What works for one woman, may not for another. There are many factors that differ for each woman. I did not experience morning sickness or headaches, and I was in very good shape before I became pregnant. I have a February baby and live in Wisconsin, so heat was not much of an issue later on in pregnancy while training. Some women experience hip pain as their hips widen to prepare for childbirth. Some have lower back pain that holds them back from continuing running throughout the whole duration of the pregnancy. Some have run the day before giving birth (mine was up to two days prior)! High blood pressure, gestational diabetes, nausea, heartburn, etc may all affect the way that your doctor will allow you to workout, as well as your own attitude towards training. If this is your first pregnancy, you have to accept the fact that there are a lot of unknowns, and you won’t really know how your body will respond until you go through the pregnancy yourself. Each pregnancy of your own may also vary greatly from one to the next.
I am very competitive, but I also needed to accept these things because you just can’t know for sure what your experience will be like. I was fortunate with my first trimester and was able to race all the way through it (I’ll get to that soon!). While I wanted to be aggressive with every race I entered, I also knew that I had to be mentally prepared to change my approach mid-race if my body waved any warning flags at me. If you’re competitive like me, that can be tough when the adrenaline is pumping, but you’re not alone out there on the course anymore! Superb race results just aren’t worth more than your new baby.
Not only will you find people have a lot of different opinions on the web, but you’ll also (much to your dismay at times) find that people around you have a lot of differing opinions and will freely (unfortunately at times) share them with you. Your family, friends, coworkers, and even complete strangers all have an opinion on what they think you should or should not be doing. My own mother commented that I may not be able to become pregnant while training so hard. This was very disheartening and frustrating to hear. What you want most of all is just support from those around you, and instead, at times, you may just feel you are getting a lot of criticism. Don’t become discouraged too quickly though! I hope you will find my experiences both encouraging and inspiring as you embark on your own journey.