I’m right in the middle of week 36 and as there aren’t that many weeks left of my pregnancy, I’ll share some reflections on how I have experienced it so far and my thoughts on what’s coming up.
I have one earlier pregnancy I can relate to and this one has developed very similar to my previous one. Both my pregnancies have been uncomplicated without any pain or injuries, and I’ve kept my training routines, but with some modifications.
As I’m carrying a baby, there is some obvious impact on my body. My blood volume have increased by 50%, I have gained 8 kg, my abdominal muscles are stretched out and the increased level of relaxin relaxes my ligaments. At the same time, most of my muscle groups are still working fine and if I maintain these muscles, it might be easier to come back to my ordinary training afterwards. Taking this into account I rather work on my local muscle functions and not on my oxygen capacity during this time.
I haven’t followed any specific guidance about training during pregnancy and I don’t rely on general advices as each pregnancy seem to be so individual. Instead I try to follow my gut feeling. I do what feels best, both physically and mentally. If an activity feels ok physically, but I’m worried if it may give consequences afterwards, then I rather adapt my activity. E.g. running has worked well for me but I have chosen to stop around week 30 in both my pregnancies as I’m uncertain if the relaxin in combination with a bigger belly creates unnecessary strain on my pelvic floor and ligaments.
As a cross-country skier in my youth, one of my favorite training disciplines in summer was skidgång/elghufs in ski slopes and I find this a perfect 3rd trimester activity replacing my running sessions. Intervals in the hills or ski slope give me the same endorphins as running and is more gentle to my body.
The major difference between my pregnancies is that this one involves swimming. Five years ago swimming was not a part of my training. Being an outdoor athlete it was a long process to adapt to the indoor pool training. Nowadays I really appreciate the early mornings in the pool and my pregnancy has not affected my routines of swimming. I swim in a group where I normally is the weakest swimmer (and being pregnant hasn’t really increased my speed). The modifications I do to keep my pulse/intensity down is to use a pullbouy and paddles. In that way I can still join the training session with the group and it gives me heap of inspiration to share the same lane as them.
All in all I have about the same lifestyle and everyday routines as when I’m not pregnant. My ambition is to return to competitive racing after pregnancy but before I can plan for any future races I have a delivery and the subsequent rehab to accomplish. This is not a walk in the park and it definitely includes many uncertainties.
My previous child birth went as expected until the last hour when it felt like things just happened very quick without anyone being ready, not least myself. I thought I would be much more in control of the situation. Maybe I was fooled from the saying that childbirth can be compared to a marathon. It’s nothing like that at all! A marathon I can prepare and practice beforehand. If I get injured I can withdraw. I’m always in control of my body and the situation. During labour I’ll need to work with people I don’t know and rely on the decisions they take in the moment.
When I worry for something in a race I use to practice it beforehand to find out how to control and handle the situation. Practicing child birth with different potential complications is not possible in the same way. Studying and reading about it just makes me more aware of everything that can go wrong and complications that can arise afterwards. But I will continue to find ways to prepare as I need to become more confident even though I can’t control it as I want to. And I bring with me, that just as a race seldom goes as planned, a solid preparation makes it a lot easier to reach the finish line despite hiccups along the way..