One of my biggest regrets as I begin this blog is that I did not start tracking my mileage until the 2nd trimester. Thus, I don’t have numbers to share reflecting my first trimester runs, but I do have a good recollection of my experience.
For starters, I have to throw this out there- I didn’t have a lick of morning sickness. Toss it up to good luck, good genes, healthy eating habits or working out daily (I have heard working out helps with morning sickness!). I didn’t get sick– not once. With that, I cannot, at all, compare my experience to the mama’s out there who are strung over the toilet, spewing out their guts multiple times a day in the first, and sometimes second and third, trimester.
So I got lucky and dodged morning sickness, but I sure as hell felt tired; literally could have slept All. Day. Every. Day. Fatigue was definitely my biggest pregnancy-symptom-culprit, second being the drastic decline in my running pace.
(Side note: I did also get some weird skin tag on my neck and a freckly face!)
To put it into perspective, the week before I got pregnant I ran a half marathon. Around 4 weeks after baby boy’s conception before I knew I was pregnant, I THOUGHT I had hit a weird running wall. My average training pace on a, say 4 mile run, went from 7:00:00-7:15:00 mile to 9:00:00-9:30:00/mile. Low and behold, I was not somehow regressing, I was just preggers!
When I found out I was pregnant I was 6 weeks along. I quickly dove into any information (There’s some, but not enough!) I could find on running/exercising while pregnant. One of the first things I looked into was why I was dragging ass on my runs…
Broken down into a very simple summary, this is what I found:
When you become pregnant your body’s hormones change to support your growing belly and the little baby inside. One of these hormonal changes causes an increase in blood PLASMA (Note plasma, not cells). So the volume of the fluid that your red blood cells float around in increases, but (very generally speaking) the number of cells in the fluid remains the same. One of the main jobs of a red blood cells is to transport oxygen to muscles.
Got all that? So- When you exercise (use your muscles at a greater rate and with more force) your muscles need more oxygen. But now that you’re pregnant your heart has to pump quicker and you have to breathe harder to push oxygen (attached to all the cells) to your muscles through your extra blood plasma (fluid). All in all, exercising DOES become more difficult and in a sense you DO regress; you’re having to breathe harder to get more oxygen than before and your heart has to pump quicker to get the same amount of oxygen to your muscles as it was prior to pregnancy.
Confusing right? Let me draw you a picture.
Besides fatigue, my symptoms were minimal. I had mild round ligament in pain in my pelvis and groin-ish area that often felt worse after a run. I’ve read journals and googled to the days end and haven’t found any research on running while pregnant and the affects on the ligaments supporting your belly. I truly believe running strengthened every muscle, ligament, tendon and joint that partook in carrying my unborn son. My scientific two cents is that if the ligaments supporting your belly are like everything else in your body, they’ll adapt to keep up with your daily activity. I held baby boy super high and super tight (My belly didn’t “pop” until 8 months.) so I assure you my ligaments were nice and strong– perhaps due to running every day.
During the first trimester definitely don’t over consume. Your babes is still the size of a tube of lipstick therefore when you gain 10 lbs in the first three months, you can’t blame it on your new addition! Yes you’re working out and yes you’re pregnant so you DO need more calories than the average shmo. BUT we’re not talking a banana split after breakfast lunch and dinner. Be mindful. Be smart.
If you can over come first trimester fatigue as well as the blow to your running ego, you should be able to keep chugging right along to the second trimester- the most pleasant time frame of your pregnancy!