Fact: No matter how much or how little weight you gain while pregnant, by the time you hit the last few weeks of the third trimester, you feel like a moose.
You may still look great, perhaps you’ve even gained less than you should, but as that bun in the oven starts pressing hard on the hips and lady bits, exercise is the furthest thing from your mind. Walking becomes a mind game. Rolling over in bed brings tears to your eyes. (P.S. Have I mentioned I don’t like this part.)
You are officially… a broken turtle.
Seriously, how can just sitting or laying down hurt!?! When will I be able to bend over again?! I want my body back!!
But do you know where turtles, even the broken ones, can find solace? In the water.
Oh, ladies. Ladies, ladies, ladies. This magic body of water has become my safe haven. My peaceful place. My zen moment in the middle of a hurty day. It’s warm. It’s relatively quiet. It makes me feel all good inside. Bliss.
It’s the perfect home for a third trimester workout.
In the absence of a zero gravity chamber, the pool may be the one place where the weight of pregnancy is lifted off of your joints allowing for a decent range of motion to stretch, strengthen and work on a little cardio endurance.
Getting to the pool is the hardest part of the whole process for me. It’s more of a commitment than just running in to use an elliptical or take a yoga class since you have to pack clothes to get there and all the necessities to take a shower afterwards. (And you have to be willing to travel in a swimsuit… I can still fit into my pre-pregnancy suit OK (or as OK as I did before…), but there’s no way I could wrestle into the contraption in the locker room. That fun is saved for home.)
That said, I commit to at least 30 minutes in the water. If you are normally a swimmer, swim! If you are a runner, do some water jogging laps. If you’re more of an exercise generalist like me, here’s what I do.
Before I get in the pool (the one at the gym used for water classes, not the lap pool…), I make sure my water bottle and a set of water weights are in reachable distance once I’m in.
I warm up with three laps of water walking, taking it slow and moving my arms, too. Once I get back to my weights after the third lap, I choose one upper body and one lower body strength exercise and do two sets of 12-15, alternating between upper and lower and/or taking a water break.
I then repeat my water walking laps, perhaps taking them faster or more of a lunge and come back to a new pair of strength exercises.
Repeat this process for 28 minutes and then stretch!! The buoyancy of the warm water will allow you to really get into your poor aching back. Treat it nice while you can.
Warning: There is one downside of working out in the pool – getting out. You’ll feel like an elephant for the first few steps on dry land. It was good while it lasted…
If you need ideas for specific strength exercises, just think back to anything you do on land! Lunges, bicep curls, squats and sit-ups all have a water-appropriate counterpart. Be creative and remember that “moving” is the goal here. That might just mean pushing the water around all tae kwon do style or using a noodle to stretch. At this point, whatever feels good is the best exercise there is.
Enjoy ladies! And remember – you’re almost done!!!