Portrait at 30 weeks + 5
30 weeks + 5 up in the gym workin’ on my fitness

Claims I’d read during the first trimesterthat the second was much more ‘enjoyable’ turned out to be accurate. Happily, from weeks 15/16 the constant nausea stopped and extreme fatigue subsided.

While I’d been hitting 3 workouts a week during the first 16 weeks, these were very half-hearted sessions and during the second trimester I felt strong and alert enough to up my activity levels; helped in no small part by being an entrepreneur in charge of my time and therefore able to work in exercise in the afternoons as usually too tired in the evenings. Though the weather in Britain has been a wash out this Spring and Summer, there have been many fine days which have been great for cycling and walking the local parks and canal paths.

I did quite a bit more BJJ over the second trimester. In Week 16 I visited my main club Dartford BJJ to catch up with the team and do a little training. While I was able to do many of the drills and worked with a very light guy (59 kilos) with weight only on my upper body, it was pretty uncomfortable – looking forward to getting my A cups back as this whole boob thing is not for me. I also felt less confident about my ability to move and to protect myself from the odd knock as my core control was starting to reduce. I also did several sessions at our Ilford branch from Week 20. This club is a much closer commute (30 minutes rather than 90 door-to-door) so more practical for me at this time, as I don’t have the energy for late night commuting. At these classes, I really enjoyed doing the Gracie self defense drills from standing, most of the drills on the ground as well as some modified ‘sparring’ with Coach Birkett. My foot work and timing are horrific, but not everything is gone, yet… I am definitely getting rusty, but am keeping a positive outlook and an eye on the big picture. My husband is very supportive of me getting back to training and once we get past nursing in the Spring, will be integrating regular classes back into my weekly routine. Sure, the hours I put in will be reduced as I’ll be balancing work, home and new baby, but something is better than nothing and as the babe grows over time I’ll be able to add in more BJJ-time accordingly.

I also started work with a personal trainer from Week 25. Ayla Akin specialises in working with women pre- and post-natal and she loves the weights and functional fitness. While it ain’t cheap, it is an indulgence I’ve really needed and has massively helped my sense of well being since I started regular work with her. Ayla keeps me motivated and works me to a good level but reins me in when I want to go a bit mad and the work we do really helps the knee recovery which has been tough to run in parallel with the pregnancy, so win-win! Working weights and conditioning with her has given me confidence that I’m not as totally unfit as I’d believed and has helped to get a little strength back, mobilise the joints, and stay within optimal weight-gain parameters for preggos. Was inspired to take a leaf out of Rosi Sexton’s book and would strongly recommend investing in work with an ante-natal trainer.

Since beginning this journey have been contacted by other women seeking to balance pregnancy and BJJ/exercise. While I am in no position to advise any woman about her pregnancy and can only share my personal experiences for readers’ interest and point to some research around pregnancy and exercise, there are some general principles I’ve shared when asked:

  1. The health of you and your baby are the most important things right now, being active is part of that, but it is all about being active in the right way
  2. Talk to your medical professionals about your pregnancy and suitability of exercise
  3. Do your own research, you’ll find a starting point bibliography here
  4. Give yourself a break! You’re pregnant, your body is working hard, you’re not going to be able to go on as business as usual; you will have your bod back to yourself in no time, so try to enjoy the experience while it lasts (yeah, I struggle keeping this big picture in front of me, but keep trying)

That’s all I got, except perhaps ‘A head butt is not an appropriate response to others’ complaints of not training for a week or two’ – HA! Look after yourselves and I’ll ‘see’ you in a few weeks with a fat little grub for you to fawn over.