For the last 8 months, I’ve been busy growing a mini martial artist in my belly. I’m well into my 3rd trimester and have about 4-5 weeks to go until I’m due to pop. This being my first child, the whole experience has been completely new to me and training while pregnant is so far removed from regular non-pregnant training so I thought I’d better document it so I don’t forget how its been like to train through pregnancy.
I haven’t been the most disciplined about keeping a regular exercise routine. I learnt that my body has been releasing this hormone called relaxin, designed to help make all my joints really pliable and flexible so that I can somehow squeeze what feels like a bowling ball out. While I’m assuming this is a massively positive thing towards getting said bowling ball out, it’s also seriously affected my movements and I haven’t been able to do very much with my legs without significant pain.
Despite that, every so often, I try to push out a few push ups and squats so I don’t completely lose all my muscles. (More on actual martial arts training in another post!)
Squats are still fairly easy for me, the only hindrance is my big belly. So I’ve had to take a much wider stance so my belly can dip down between my legs when I squat down. At first I was worried about the change in my centre of gravity or falling forwards or backwards (that would have looked funny!), but it really hasn’t been an issue by making sure I’m still keeping my knees over my feet, sticking my butt out and keeping my back straight and my core engaged.
Push ups are a whole lot harder. It definitely didn’t help that I developed bursitis in my left shoulder early last year. As I eased off training hard, my bursitis finally healed up and I could attempt push ups again around my second trimester. However as my belly got bigger and bigger, it definitely got harder and harder. There was a point where it felt like there was a very strong magnet between my belly and the ground and I would just collapse mid way down. So I needed to focus a whole lot more on ensuring I was using my core and keeping my back super straight. Wider leg positions also make things easier. At the end of the day, I just wanted to focus on ensuring I was working out the right bits of my upper body so even if I could only do a couple then drop to do them from my knees, that’s what I did. And of course, I could only go as low as my belly would allow, which these days really doesn’t feel like much any more.
On the other hand, there’s just no way to do sit ups in a way that would make them actually useful for my core. It just feels like I’m more likely to do more harm than good in trying to persist with traditional sit ups. So for my core, I’ve been doing things like balancing on an exercise ball and engaging/activating my core in mini sets while I’m just sitting around (which is most of the day, yay couch).
Sadly, I’m sure I’ll have a long, hard journey ahead of me after the birth to get my body back to the way it was pre-pregnancy. But if I made myself fit and strong before, I can do it again. Right now my top priority is keeping my body well-rested and not injured in any way so it can do its thing welcoming my mini jiujitsu-ka into the world.