How the third trimester is like tapering for a big race

I’m within sight of the end of my pregnancy: Only 47 days left. I’ll call this eight months pregnant.

32 weeks pregnant

Confession: That picture on the right is from last Monday. I’m actually a little past 33 weeks now.

And I think it’s about time to officially call it: I’m finished running until after Baby Runs is born. The last time I went running was 20 days ago, and the more time that passes, the harder it is to imagine going out again.

She’s gotten a lot bigger, and higher, and takes up a lot of the space that my lungs and diaphragm used to occupy. Also my back. Oh my back.

Meanwhile, I see my friends on Facebook starting their racing seasons with a bang. Me, no races on the horizon. Not a one.

I often find myself thinking about the things I can’t do instead of the things I can do. Then I catch myself and try to change my attitude.

Last weekend, I organized my bestie/future sister-in-law’s bachelorette party, and we did a fantastic hike up Beech Mountain on Mount Desert Island.

That's Christina, me, my sister Jean, and my future sister Chandra near the top of Beech Mountain.

That’s Christina, me, my sister Jean, and my future sister-in-law Chandra near the top of Beech Mountain.

I picked the hike by searching Aislinn’s one-minute-hike blog for on Mount Desert Island, and as soon as the her video looked like there was any climbing involved, I moved onto the next one. ;) Still — it was 4 miles up and down a (small) mountain and I did OK.

Staying fit during pregnancy is hard, and with my wealth of experience from my one single pregnancy, I’m going to stay it the first one is especially hard. The first four months I was sick. Then my energy was sapped. Then the physical changes started to get in the way.

So if you’re pregnant and you’re reading this and you’re wondering: “Can I improve my fitness or lose weight while I’m pregnant?” — let me stop you now, sit you down and say, “honey, just try to keep moving.” ‘Cause that’s just a huge challenge in and of itself.

My stats tell me that I’ve done OK keeping in shape this pregnancy. As of this morning, I’m at 182 pounds, which is about a 18-pound weight gain since the day I found out I was pregnant. My blood pressure and cholesterol are still good (though not as *spectacular* as they were last fall).

But I feel like I can’t take credit for any of that because I am a shadow of the athlete I used to be. I look at Carrots n’ Cake, my favorite running, pug-owning, now-pregnant blogger, and she stuck with her sport even longer into her pregnancy than I have and still gained a bit more than the recommended weight. She was also very small and fit and possibly had more to gain. I don’t know. I think that genetics and environment play A LOT into this.

So here’s what I did do, and I didn’t feel compelled to change much because it worked:

I eat when I am hungry (all the time)

… and I stop eating when I am full (which happens a lot faster now that she’s taking up more room).

I take lots of steps to minimize stress in my life.

There is a lot of stress when planning for a new baby! We bought a car two weeks ago, we’re moving into a new house this weekend, we rented out our home in Lewiston this winter and my brother is getting married in two weeks. Also, day care? That’s apparently something that I should have been thinking about months ago. So I take peaceful walks with the pugs, enjoy treats when I need them, spend a lot of time with my feet up and let other people (mostly my husband) be in charge. Which was something I’ve had to teach myself to do.

I check in with myself often.

Take a moment to pause and think about how you’re feeling. Give it a name. Take mental note of the factors that are driving your energy and mood. Is there anything on that list you can control? If not, let it go. I’ve found in recent weeks that a run, which used to be something which gave me great release and joy, was something my body felt a lot less open to. So I stopped fighting it and I let myself walk.

I understand it’s temporary.

This is the hardest of all. I feel like Tony and I are looking into this chasm of our lives when everything is going to change. That being a runner, which used to be the new cool thing I was doing is now the cool thing I used to do that I’ll get back to one day. That our time and goals and love and energy are going to get wrapped up in this event that I can’t even understand or compare to.

Pregnancy feels like a license to ease up and slack off, but I know that I need this energy for what is to come. And just like training for a big race, I am gathering my energy now so that I can use it later.

I need to take this time off to rest and prepare. And I need to trust that I will get back off the couch when the time is ready.

47 days.

Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

By day, I'm the User Experience and Audience Manager for the Bangor Daily News. By night, I'm a soon-to-be first-time mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.