I've started running again. It's weird, very different but oh so therapeutic.
I stopped running when I was 6 weeks pregnant and contracted giardia, which rendered me weak, tired and void of enthusiasm. Given the complications of morning sickness and the fact that we were travelling the country, the giardia went undiagnosed until we got home 4 weeks later. I then had to wait until I was in the second trimester to take antibiotics for it, so after 6 weeks of gastro-like symptoms I had lost a lot of weight, almost all muscle mass and all my stamina. All the efforts I'd made to ensure I was in tip-top shape pre-pregnancy were moot. Perhaps being in prime physical condition helped the recovery, but it certainly felt like I was left with nothing.
So at 13 weeks pregnant, with the visitors evicted from my digestive tract and breakfast only occasionally revisiting, I began the journey to regain some of the muscle and stamina that I'd lost. At first I could walk little more than a kilometer to the local supermarket without having to nap when I got home. I slowly built this up to a 4km walk and had started cycling regularly on an indoor trainer (both my arms and legs looked like the arms of a Schleck brother!) when our household got hit with a nasty head cold. We somehow managed to back this up with the flu. Now at almost 17 weeks I am finally getting back into some regular exercise. I'm back at step aerobics (which I did up to 28 weeks when I was pregnant with Poppet), I started swimming again this week (oh my lord my shoulders hate me), I'm cycling on the trainer a couple of times a week and this weekend I started running again. Re-reading that sentence, it sounds like an awful lot for a preggo to take on, but compared to pre-pregnancy where I was running 50kms each week plus aerobics, plus swimming, plus cycling, I really am "taking it easy", I promise.
So pregnant Pam runs quite differently to pre-pregnant Pam. If you've been pregnant, you'll know that some of the hormones involved in nurturing your bundle of joy (primarily relaxin), cause your ligaments to loosen. The biggest offenders are the ligaments of the sacro-illiac joint in your pelvis. This has to happen, otherwise the thing the size of a watermelon won't fit out the exit the size of a golf ball, it's not rocket science. To an athlete, "loose ligaments" sounds like an injury, and this is one reason why you should be careful exercising during pregnancy. Pushing those relaxed ligaments too far will result in injury, so pregnancy is not the time to push your body to its limits. Being sick and effectively starting from scratch has helped me here. Running like a granny isn't such a bad thing for bubs and I!
So my leisurely 6km jog this afternoon consisted of a 200m walk break half way through (mostly to have a drink and to give my heart rate a chance to recover - too much blood moving away from the uterus for too long isn't good for bubs, so little breaks are great for us both). Can you tell I studied reproductive biology at uni? Education is great, but maybe if I were more ignorant I'd be sitting in a beanbag, watching Oprah with a donut in one hand and a coke in the other. I like to think my baby and my body will thank me for being an active mumma, and maybe I still ate the donut when I got back from my run.
Where was I? A mid-way break for recovery. The break also provided an opportunity pee-stop. The kid is the size of an avocado and my bladder is already compromised! I could feel my pelvis moving while I ran which was a little unnerving, but completely normal. I could also feel the milk jugs shudder with each step. Don't get me wrong, I have a good sports bra, but the puppies have just realised that we're pregnant and have shot up from non-quite-an-A-cup to something more like you might see on a Canberra-bought video. Keep in mind they were feeding Poppet up until a couple of months ago, so I'm not sure why they seem so shocked by all this, but needless to say it adds another interesting element to running.
I can see how all these changes might put even a runner off running during pregnancy, but the endorphins that were bouncing through my body this afternoon made me ignore the pain in my hip flexors and start planning the next run. I doubt I'll run much more than 6kms at a time until the wee-un is out, and pace is something set by my body and not my watch, but being active again is what's important, not just for me physically, but for my mental state. I was sick for a while, but now I'm not sick, I'm just pregnant, and while my doctor is happy and I'm happy, that's not going to stop me from being me.