A Fit Pregnancy- The Second Trimester and coping with body changes (ft. Jessica Branchizio)
Second trimester is over and done it's time to break it down!
My best friend Jessica (@itty_bitty_fitty_commitee on insta, go check her out!) is just coming out of this stage as well so I'm bringing her in for some additional insight! She's a mama, climber, and fittie that has been rocking her way through pregnancy, staying active, and sticking to a clean diet. She definitely knows the struggles of maintaining a fit pregnancy.
It's been amazing having a close friend experiencing the same stage of pregnancy. We've been able to compare symptoms, reassure each other, share workouts and recipes, and whine on the days we just need someone to complain to.
So, here's a bit of our usual we're sharing with all of you:
Courtney: You'll frequently hear that second trimester is the best, and I totally agree. Morning sickness eases off, baby kicks start, you actually look pregnant instead of just fat, and everything becomes a little more real. Also, people are really nice to you, opening doors and letting you cut in front of them in the Starbucks line which is really kinda great. You kind of go back to feeling like a person again.
Jessica: Second trimester is the best! But don't be fooled, it isn't an "all-of-a-sudden" thing. It takes several weeks into the 2nd trimester for you to really feel like you're going to survive it all! And you will definitely regress to a semi-1st trimester mindset from time to time. I suggest getting a close friend to talk you off the ledge during these moments haha! The ups and downs become more acceptable. You rarely say "what the hell have I done?!". Everything begins to feel balanced (aside from your body) and you feel empowered that you can actually do this. Your energy and workouts kick back up to an almost pre-pregnancy feel. Life becomes manageable again.
Courtney: I think we both found that, even though you know it's coming, it can be hard to come to terms with your body changing. We had a lot of texting conversations where we'd be loving on our bumps one day and stressing the rate of weight gain the next. You're so excited for that bump to show up and really pop, but you forget that it also comes with getting softer all over, giant boobs, and generally not fitting into your clothes. It's really exciting, kind of intimidating, and totally out of your control.
Jessica: Literally, the day I tested positive, I did not feel myself. No matter how good I thought I was at practicing mindfulness before pregnancy, I somehow barely had control of anything during those first few months. I found myself feeling anxious and frustrated and down on myself for all the weight I had gained. I had all these preconceived notions that everything would be different the 2nd pregnancy, that I would be calmer and better with diet and workout. None of that was true. Not for the first trimester anyway. But just when I thought I couldn't possibly continue like this, second trimester came and things felt just a tiny bit better. By week 16-ish, you've had time to adapt to the bodily changes and most likely have accepted them (for the most part). You've adjusted to the overload of hormones and you start to feel "yourself" again. Mentally, I felt like I was getting a handle on life and control of my emotions again. Your belly goes from a pile of mush bloat, to a hardened itty bitty bump.
Courtney: When you're working hard to maintain a healthy and fit pregnancy the rapid body changes can mess with you. You're working out, eating clean, and there's no physical results to help you stay motivated. When you're working hard to maintain a fit lifestyle when you're not pregnant you have cues you can rely on that help you feel like what you're doing is good, productive, and exciting. You get stronger, you feel better, your stamina improves, you see changes in your physique, etc. In pregnancy things are just a little backwards, you're getting bigger, your body doesn't necessarily feel good, workouts get consistently harder, and each week brings new modifications. It's just such a mental shift to have to find focus and motivation without the normal drivers. Even having been through pregnancy before I still found myself in new territory. My weight gain has occurred at entirely different points during this pregnancy and my aches/pains, and capabilities are very different too. You just have to adapt day by day. While I might not be killing it in the gym everyday, I've found that it's been really important to maintain consistency. Even if that means showing up, scraping a lifting workout, and just doing some low intensity cardio. Staying consistent now will help you maintain physical and mental strength you'll need at the end of pregnancy and when you're getting back to it postpartum.
Jessica: I had a conversation with another pregnant friend recently that went like this, "I want to focus on arms! Mine aren't that great, but I want them to look good during pregnancy. What are some workouts I can do to improve my arms?!" My response to her was this: You literally will not improve in anything during pregnancy. You will not increase your weight when lifting. You will not increase the grade in which you climb. You need to be prepared to decrease in everything. Not an ounce of your body will see improvement. There will be nothing to let you know you're doing enough. It will just be you telling yourself that this will all be worth it in the long run. If you are lucky enough, like I am, you will have a Courtney in your life. Someone to send you a workout that they did that day to keep you moving. Or you will have an amazing climbing crew that will continue to cheer you on no matter how easy the climb is. A group that still invites you out even though you're a sac of potatoes. You'll need to rely on things, other than results, to keep you going. For me, that's these people! The positive people I keep in my life and the excitement I feel when I think about being at my peak again after baby keep me moving. The more work I put in now, the easier it will be after. That's what I tell myself :)
Courtney: I know, in my first pregnancy, I felt really guilty about panicking as I packed on pounds. I knew that I should just be happy that my body could grow a human and recognize it was doing what it was supposed to but it's not easy. I was really hard on myself anytime I saw the scale shift and then really hard on myself for being freaked out by totally normal weight gain. Honestly though, pregnancy changes your body so rapidly it's hard to wrap your mind around it. I think it's completely natural to feel weird and panic about it sometimes. I've definitely let myself move in and out of those emotions guilt-free this time around. It's just part of the process. It has been really nice being able to text Jessica on those days just to have someone to commiserate with and make me feel normal and validated. I love my body, I'm blown away by all it's doing, and I'm so grateful that I can do this and experience this but we're human and going through change isn't always easy. I think that's okay.
Jessica: I will say that my first pregnancy was quite a bit harder than this one has been, the only reason being that I was way harder on myself. I held my expectations way too high and nothing was what I thought it would be. I thought "omg I'm small and fit, I will definitely be a cute pregnant person!" Ummm no! I bloated up from day one. My pants instantly stopped fitting. I was gassy and miserable and embarrassed of everything me. My boobs got massive from the start. I felt sick and ate crappy food to compensate for it all. I put on 7 lbs the first trimester and hated myself daily. "I wasn't supposed to do that. Everyone expected me to stay little and fit! How am I supposed to face these people?!" At least that's what I thought. But who were these people I was trying to impress and uphold these standards for?! This pregnancy, I felt all of that again, but on a much smaller scale. I stopped those thoughts much earlier on. I kept climbing through the sick and tired. I kept pushing myself and you know what? I still put on 7 lbs my first trimester. I still bloated. My boobs still got massive. And I was still gassy. I realized that this is just me. This is pregnant Jess. This is all temporary and I will be okay no matter what happens. I am no bigger nor smaller than my first pregnancy. The only difference this time around is that I have more positive people in my life to use when I get down. And I use them (Courtney) hahaha!
Courtney: I think we both found a lot more aches and pains showed up with our second pregnancies. I developed SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) around 20 weeks. It happens because your ligaments relax to prepare for labor/delivery, but with that, things get loose and can start to shift. In my case, my pelvis shifted causing pain at the pubic symphysis that kinda makes you feel like you're being wishboned apart. It got so bad I could hardly walk by the end of the day. I tried taking some time away from workouts and yoga but found it was actually worse when I didn't get out and move. For a couple weeks workouts became slow treadmill walks and exercises that included no unilateral movement through my legs. Luckily, I didn't have to stay in that state for too long. I got in to my amazing PT/athletic trainer/magical healer who was able to assess the pelvic shifts and adjust me back. It was immediate relief, however, not lasting. I'm now going for appointments every two weeks to help keep my pelvis aligned. Mentally these pains and discomforts can wear on you so I think it's important to find relief where you can to survive your pregnancy. For me, comfort and relief means consistent visits to my PT, warm baths with bath bombs on nights I'm really hurting, and having a full on pillow fortress in my bed and on my couch so I can get comfy and relax.
Jessica: OMG the pains are way worse the second time around! I couldn't believe it! Story time: I was never a climber until after my first baby. Now that I am, I've developed muscle, on muscle, on muscle. I thought for sure that these way-to-early pregnancy pains must be because of how much muscle I had prior to getting pregnant with baby #2. I mean, stretching some strong, tight abs has to be painful! I asked my doctor and she said "It's because you are worn out and your body is used" ......ehh but it could be because I was really fit, right?! Nope! Shockingly, our bodies get worn out from the inside out and things shift easier and further for each pregnancy. This was not an easy pill to swallow. By end of day, I could barely walk. I wasn't even that big and my bump was tiny. My hips, butt, back, legs, my entire lower body was in shambles by evening. Even treadmill walking was too much. Honestly, the only thing that made me feel better was climbing because of how it forces you to use your core properly without even thinking about it. But climbing gets harder and your core cannot be used to its full extent once you get further along. Courtney and I even bought matching, super-sexy, pregnancy belly/back braces to try and alleviate the pain ha ha. I went to several prenatal massages, and while they were amazing, I mean this woman took me to meet my creator for 90 minutes, it still wasn't enough. This was a deal breaker! This was going to cause me to lose focus the rest of the pregnancy, I was sure of it! But once again, Courtney to the rescue! She told me she went to see a PT/chiro and how much it helped her and how messed up she was. I was sold! I made an appt the very next day with a chiropractor that specializes in pregnant women. You guys...I walked out of that office 10lbs lighter and completely in shock! Literally 0 pain at night. Don't get me wrong, I am not 100% and will not be until I lose this weighted vest, but it's definitely key to surviving! I highly recommend seeing one if you're hurting! Don't suffer in silence! Oh and as Courtney said, it's slightly temporary, I go every other week to get realigned and readjusted!
There are so many amazing things about this time during pregnancy, growing bumps, baby kicks, sharing your exciting news, finding out gender, etc. Enjoy them! As far as some of the less pleasant things, take them a day at a time. Pregnancy is hard enough without fighting ourselves. Surrender to change and just do the best you can, whatever that means for you in that moment. Let go of expectations and guilt and just let things progress as they will. Ultimately, we are very much out of control.