During the 13th week of my ACL recovery, I was able to confirm that I was in week 5 of pregnancy. We’d been seriously considering starting a family in recent years and once we had dates for the ACL op and had gotten to a point in my recovery when it was well underway we agreed to start trying and I’m now in my 18th week and we’re expecting a baby in early September. This seemed like an opportune time to get this cooking as we felt ready and willing and, personally, I was slowed down by the rehab and the recommended exertion levels for pregnancy harmonise well with working the recovery.
While it can be safe to do quite a wide range of activities, it may be not the time when you feel at your best. ~ Rosi Sexton on training and pregnancy
During my first trimester, Rosi’s words resonated with me on a daily basis. In weeks 5 and 6 I trained BJJ, including some modified sparring with trusted partners. However, from around week 7 I felt far too sick and tired to train. I was lucky enough to never actually vomit, but I had an incessant feeling of nausea alongside an intransigent fatigue. Not the sort of tired that you push through and go to the gym and feel better in the end, the sort of tired where you crash out for the night at 8PM.
For the remainder of the first trimester I sought to keep my activity levels ticking over, and was able to maintain the bare minimum of knee recovery work. In particular, weights machines, some free weights, treadmill (mostly walking) and swimming. This represented pure will and was joyless working out at a very low level of exertion. However, maintaining activity during pregnancy is very important for momma and baby and if one stops exercising at some point during pregnancy it is recommended to build up much more slowly than if one keeps it rolling as much as possible. So, I dragged myself to the gym 3 times a week (mostly consistently), did my conditioning and hopped on the treadmill or cycle for light cardio. While it was very difficult to motivate a couple things helped:
- Hitting the gym earlier in the day. My BJJ classes and gym training normally takes place in the evenings after work, however I was far too tired for this. I’m in the position of running my own business, so I used the flexibility to visit the gym in the early afternoons when I had a relatively high level of energy.
- Good goggles. I mentioned in a recent discussion of my ACL rehab that quality goggles have made swimming much more enjoyable and as front crawl is set to be one of my main activities for the medium term, investing in a pair of good fitting, anti-fog goggles has made a huge difference in the fun of doing laps.
- Remembering that during the actual workout I didn’t feel sick. The only other time I didn’t feel like boaging was when actually eating – not when full, just the act of masticating! But, though I couldn’t push myself and felt underpar, when I was doing my best in the gym I didn’t have any nausea.
By weeks 15/16, as I settled into the early part of the second trimester, I felt much better in terms of energy levels, wakefulness and no more nausea. Of course, this doesn’t mean I am pushing myself at pre-preggo levels, but it does mean it is easier to motivate to hit the gym and more enjoyable when I am there as I feel more up for it. My exercise is modified – no heavy cardio, lighter weights and lots of swimming – but I am keen to keep it moving so that I’m in decent condition for the birth and afterwards. In terms of ‘getting back to normal’, well that’s not going to happen as our family changes and I will be extending my hiatus from regular BJJ training until I finish my maternity leave in March of next year. However, my husband is very supportive of me regaining my health and fitness and of having space for BJJ in my life and after maternity leave the goal is to hit the Saturday class on the reg and build from there. As with my first trimester I will make notes during the upcoming weeks and report on my experience at the end of the trimester.