Quick disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional of any kind. If you have specific questions about exercising while pregnant, please consult your doctor. This post is based on my own personal experience with morning sickness and working out during my pregnancy.
I’ve been getting a ton of questions about working out during my first trimester, especially with regard to exercising when you feel like poo because of morning (all day) sickness. As you probably remember, I had a pretty bad case of morning sickness myself, but I didn’t end up missing too many workouts because of it. That said, here are a few tips and tricks that helped me stick to my workouts during my first trimester.
Listen to your body
You guys knew I was going to say this, right? Well, it’s true. There were days during my first trimester that I just felt so bad, there was no way in hell I was going to exercise, so I listened to my body and laid on the couch instead. And, of course, there is nothing wrong with this. The first trimester is a really busy (and exhausting) time for your body””hello, you’re making a HUMAN””so I never once felt bad about taking a day off from exercise. If anything, the time off and extra rest helped me feel better and more like my old self for the next day’s workout.
Switch the time of day you exercise
If you typically exercise in the morning, but your nausea is terrible first thing in the day, exercise at night. If it’s worse at night, switch your workout to the morning or mid-day at lunchtime. You get what I’m saying, right? Basically, work out when you’re feeling your “best.” My nausea was so bad in the afternoon and evening, I often switched my CrossFit workouts to the morning or tackled my training runs right after breakfast before my morning sickness got too bad, which made it possible to stick with my usual exercise routine.
Incorporate intervals or rest into your workouts
Doing workouts that incorporated intervals or rest helped me so much during my first trimester (as well as the rest of my pregnancy), especially since I was still getting used to what my new (pregnant) body was capable of. Before I was pregnant, I could do a 30-minute metcon or run 5 miles without stopping, no problem. Midway through my first trimester, however, my cardio capacity changed, and I found it a lot more difficult to power through these types of workouts. Obviously, taking breaks was the easiest way to catch my breath, but I really appreciated (and enjoyed!) when my workouts incorporated intervals or rest into them (i.e. short AMRAPs, Tabatas, EMOM), so I could stick to a good pace and keep going with my workout.
Eat a small snack right before you work out
Eating a little something before exercising always helped settle my stomach. Usually, I’d eat half of a banana with almond butter or a rice cake with some The Laughing Cow cheese spread on top. The key for me, however, was not to eat too much because then I’d end up burping up whatever snack I just ate, which was not fun. (I did this once with guacamole, and it was awful!) I just made sure whatever snack I ate was small and mostly carb-y.
Find something you love to do
For real. I cannot stress this one enough. If you don’t like your workout, you will NOT want to do it when you’re struggling with morning sickness. Obviously, I love CrossFit, so I never wanted to miss a workout, which kept me going even when I wasn’t feeling 100%.
Remember exercise might make you feel better
During my first trimester, I almost always felt better and had more energy after a workout. In fact, my nausea would pretty much go away for the hour or so following my workout, so that was a big factor in helping me stick with my workouts. Even if I felt crappy at the start of a workout, I knew I’d feel better by the end, and I usually did!
Go for a walk
When I wasn’t feeling well enough to do my usual workouts, I would often head outside for a walk with Murphy and my favorite podcast. Simply moving and getting some fresh air always made me feel a little bit better and gave me some energy.
Don’t worry about missing workouts
Seriously. I get this question so often from readers, and I really, truly didn’t worry about missing workouts when I wasn’t feeling well. I knew pregnancy was a whole new ball game for my body, so I just trusted that it would do what it needed to do (i.e. telling me to take a rest day or toning it down with the intensity of my workouts). Same goes for gaining weight. (I also get this question a lot.) When you’re pregnant, you are suppose to gain weight. I gained more than the recommended amount during my entire pregnancy, but my doctor was never concerned, so I wasn’t either. Again, I trusted my body to do what it needed to do to make a healthy (and insanely active) baby.
P.S. Here is a great article from the CrossFit Journal where mothers share their experience with CrossFit during their pregnancies: Baby On Board.