Wow. First of all, thank you all for your support. I really wasn't sure how that last post was going to go over- knowing that there are so many people who struggle with fertility having the opposite problem as me- I thought it was entirely possible that I was going to end up with a gang of haters. Who knows, maybe you're out there, secretly hating me, but overwhelmingly I felt amazed at how awesome you guys (um, gals) are in encouraging me to let myself feel how I feel and even express it 'out loud' here on my blog. It really does help to get it out there instead of burying it. I would suggest it as therapy for everyone. ;)
This book has been recommended to me several times and I finally went out and bought it. And all I have to say is, awesome! James Clapp, MD does a great job in working through the myths and fears associated with exercising while you're pregnant, and explains many physical things that I've always wondered about. If you're an athlete and pregnant already or looking to get pregnant, it is a must read.
When I found out I was pregnant with Moana, I immediately set a bunch of arbitrary limits on myself concerning exercise. I hadn't started blogging yet and didn't know anyone who ran while pregnant, so I sort of assumed that it might be ok to keep running for a while, but had no expectations for continuing all the way through. I was amazed when I found so many bloggers who ran (a lot!) when pregnant. For whatever reason, I decided that 4.5 miles was as much as I should ever run while growing a baby. I stopped biking immediately (though I do admit I rode like twice for about an hour really slow during the first trimester), and limited my swims to 2500M. Later on during my pregnancy when I felt completely fine, I did do some 4000M swims and upped my regular swims to 3000M 5x/week. But my point is, I had no basis for these limitations other than my own estimated guess at what the limits were for pregnant women.
Dr. Clapp does a great job of explaining so many positive benefits for mom and baby when mom exercises throughout her pregnancy. I now feel justified in continuing to do whatever exercise feels good, including running and weight lifting the whole time. He says that the arbitrary HR limit of 140 is not reasonable- that in fact, early on in pregnancy, HR is no longer a good measure of how hard mom is working... This is due to the fact that our vascular system has relaxed and expanded in order to make room for all that extra blood volume that we don't yet have, so our hearts actually have to work harder for a while pumping the less than adequate blood supply and our heart rates might be higher than usual even while exercising easily. I am totally experiencing this right now.
Anyway, the key points Dr. Clapp makes about keeping it safe while exercising during pregnancy include the following:
1. Make sure your body temperature does not go above 102 degrees. You know what is interesting about this? In studying pregnant women who exercise, Dr. Clapp found that our bodies, in an effort to protect the fetus, actually regulate our temperatures even better when pregnant- our bodies direct blood flow to the skin more readily to help cool us off while exercising. So we sweat more and stay cooler. This makes me wonder if this is why I've been so much colder than my training partners in the ocean lately? I think it is.
2. Make sure you don't get dehydrated. Got it. I'm good at drinking a lot. :)
3. Make sure you don't let your blood sugar go low. This was really interesting to me too b/c I have felt like I've had lower blood sugar more often when working out when I'm pregnant. The physiology behind it (that I just learned from Dr. Clapp) is that while your body would normally release glycogen stored in your liver when your blood sugar starts to dip during exercise, when you're pregnant, your brain sends a signal to your liver to keep that glycogen for the baby rather than releasing it to mom. After 45 minutes or so is when your liver would normally kick in and start providing back-up glucose, but this mechanism is turned off when you're pregnant. So you have to take in your own carbohydrates more often rather than depending on your liver. Interesting, no?
4. Finally, avoid physical injury. This may be more important later in pregnancy when your balance may be thrown off due to the weight changes from that big baby.
Anyway, I'm not putting any arbitrary limits on myself this time around. I'm doing whatever feels right at the time. That means riding my bike until I can't sit on it anymore and not necessarily avoiding all hills. That means running 35 miles/week if I feel like it (and yes, I have felt like it), and keeping my long run up at 10 miles as long as I can. And it means swimming as much and as fast as feels comfortable. Exercising now is more about keeping my own sanity rather than gaining any fitness, but given Dr. Clapp's advice, I think I can do a pretty good job of staying sane. :)