Finally. You are almost done with your pregnancy! You've hit the third trimester!! By now you may be feeling like you are ready to meet your baby and may also be feeling like you're just done with being pregnant. I totally understand that feeling. Your belly is large, your back hurts, heartburn is in full swing and your swelling is getting a little out of control. If you're one of those unlucky women such as myself, you may also be experiencing nausea again and feel like you did back in the first trimester. So, how in the world are you going to alleviate all of these symptoms!? Surely not with working out??! Actually, that's exactly what I'm here to talk to you about. Even though you're almost done with your pregnancy, that's no excuse to quit moving. Actually, contrary to popular believe, a good workout can really help you with all of these symptoms you're experiencing and could actually make you feel better than if you were to do nothing at all.
By now you are probably feeling that extra baby weight and are slowing down considerably. Day to day tasks are starting to feel harder and if you already have a child to take care of, it's getting harder for you to chase that child around because let's face it, you are slowing down. Unlike most of the second trimester, the third trimester is just tough both mentally and physically. For these first 4 weeks of the third trimester try to focus on keeping up with what you were doing in the second trimester only with less intensity. Because of your expanding midsection your body will probably tell you to slow it down. You will probably start to feel a real difference in how hard you can push yourself as well. Your breathing may become slightly faster more easily and you may start to become slightly more uncomfortable during your workouts. If you bike, it may be harder to reach the handle bars and if you run you may start feeling more soreness in your joints as your body starts to release hormones to limber up the body for labor. Your motto now is to just keep moving, whatever that means to you. Both my pregnancies were drastically different in what I could do in this stage. With my first I worked out at a pretty high intensity throughout the entire pregnancy, running 3 miles the day before going into labor and walking 8 miles the day I went into labor. With my second pregnancy I was diagnosed as a high risk pregnancy with placenta previa and was very limited in the type of movement I could do from about week 25 on. It was frustrating but I continued doing the elliptical and light weights throughout the remainder of my pregnancy. Know your limitations and listen to your body.
This next month you're goal is just to get out the door everyday. Know that your aching back will feel better after being stretched and moved a bit and if you are experiencing swelling, moving will help with decreasing that as well. Try going on a 30 minute walk everyday or doing easy strength, cardio and stretching routines found here. Become familiar with an exercise ball too. Doing different movements such as a figure 8 rotation while sitting on the ball will help open up the hips and prepare you for delivery. If you don't know what to do with an exercise ball you can watch a video here. It's also a good idea to start doing more hip opener type exercises to open up the hips and get baby in a head down position. Hip opener exercises may also help engage the baby and make delivery easier when the time comes. You can find some great hip opener exercises here. Squatting during this stage of pregnancy not only opens up your hips but will also help tone and tighten your thighs. Bonus!
Congratulations! You are now considered full term and your baby will be here any day now! You're probably thinking, "Are you kidding me!? You still think I'm going to move at this point of my pregnancy!?" And the answer is "yes". The reason why it's still important to keep moving at this point is to help with labor and delivery. Walking and stretching will help to engage the baby and make for a (hopefully!!) faster and easier delivery as I mentioned above. Don't forget to drink tons of water(at least 8, 8 ounce glasses a day), especially at this stage because water also helps with delivery and could make things go a little faster. Keep up with your hip openers and stretching exercises to alleviate any sore parts on the body. If you're experiencing any nausea like I did with my second pregnancy, you are almost guaranteed to feel better after getting outside for some fresh air. Even if this means doing stretching exercises at the park or on your front porch, just being outside will help you feel strong and confident.
Again, the longer you keep up with your fitness routine, the easier it will be to get back into your pre-pregnancy clothing. This simple fact was always what got me out of my house and into my workout gear, especially this late in the game. Remember, it doesn't have to be hard and you don't have to break a sweat. Just do what you can and enjoy these last few months of pregnancy because things are about to get really crazy. Fitting in exercise after the baby arrives becomes slightly more challenging but don't worry, I can help with that :) Take good care of yourself now and reap the benefits the baby gets here. Trust me, you will thank yourself for all the hard work and dedication you put into your fitness routine.