Welcome to the second instalment of my personal experiences during my pregnancy. If you haven’t read the first part (and if you want to!) check it out here.
My second trimester was a lot less eventful. I got through the minor symptoms that I was experiencing in my first trimester – namely pretty serious fatigue, and occasional nausea popping up if I wasn’t on point with my food. As most other women say, the second trimester was the smoothest and I felt most like myself! By 16 weeks I didn’t even feel pregnant anymore – except for my slight baby bump!
Major Trends / Lessons Learned in my 2nd Trimester
Major Appetite in the Morning – I used to get up, have a coffee and go to the gym. In my first trimester, I ate a banana pre-crossfit, but that was no longer sufficient as of 14 weeks. I needed something quick, mostly carbs with some protein, that I could easily eat before the gym. So I stalked up on some clean sandwich meat (duBreton ham) and a clean gluten-free bread (from Cup of Tea Bakery), and I started having a ham-sandwich (and sometimes a banana too!) before the gym in the morning. While this isn’t the most nutrient dense snack, my body tolerates it really well, it allows me to exercise first thing, and it wasn’t actually replacing another nutrient-dense meal. This snack is in addition to my 3 nutrient-dense meals.
Staying Hydrated – The one thing I desperately crave is water, and it can come on out of nowhere. So I never leave the house without a large bottle of water. With summer approaching and the temperature starting to creep up, I felt like I was drinking tons of water, but not actually absorbing any. So I started adding lemon and a pinch of sea salt, to add electrolytes and enhance absorption. I also started drinking mineral water with lime occasionally. I also just decided to go with it and drink lots of water when I needed it!
Longer Breaks between Meals – by 16 weeks I felt back to myself, and was able to go back to my standard 4-6 hours between meals. As long as I had that early morning snack, 3 squares for the rest of the day worked great. This started to change as I approached my 3rd trimester and my stomach volume started to shrink (see end of post)!
Blood Glucose Testing – because my diet is quite dialled in (I pretty much eat the way I recommend to diabetics), and I haven’t been indulging in junk during this pregnancy, I know my body will not respond well to the glucose load they give you. Not to mention the fact that it’s corn syrup + orange food dye – both of which I avoid like the plague. So I chose to opt out of the standard blood sugar testing, with total support from my midwives and my family doctor. That being said, I was not irresponsible and stopped thinking about it altogether. I did 2 things instead (1) I did a blood test for my HbA1C, a really good indicator of how your body handles your glucose load and (2) around the 26 week mark, I checked my blood sugars using a finger prick test (available at your pharmacy) a few times. What’s right for you? Well that’s for you to decide with your health care provider. However, you do have options. If your diet isn’t optimal for managing blood sugar (high in grains, flour-based foods, sugar etc. or needing to eat every 2-3 hours) or if you have a risk for gestational diabetes, you definitely want to make sure your blood sugars are in check. You can usually do a typical blood glucose test with your doc, but ask for a cleaner sugar-load (like dates, bananas or even honey) so see if your doc will go with that. Alternatively, finger-prick tests are a great option!
Increased Appetite Overall – this is likely compounded by the fact that I workout 3-4 days/week still. So when I feel the need to eat more, I do. I just keep it real, whole foods. Most of the 2nd trimester I just ate more at each meal – I was often eating more than my husband!
Gaining Weight – I did not worry whatsoever about gaining weight. My number one goal was to make sure I was providing my body with enough nutrients to allow a new human to be built (holy jeez that’s a crazy thought, still!) but also with enough fuel to support the energy demands of both building a baby, but also living an active life and crossfitting 3-4x/week. Interestingly, I didn’t gain a pound until after 20 weeks, even though I was consuming more than my 6’4″ husband!! I listened to my body and when I was hungry, I ate. I just made it (mostly) real, whole foods.
Crossfit – The beginning of my 2nd trimester I was still rocking along. I did the crossfit open (and got my first chest to bar pull ups!) at 12 weeks pregnant, and even PRd some lifts! The one thing I always did was keep my breath rate in check, cause if I was panting, baby wasn’t getting oxygen. This was hard at the beginning because I felt like myself, but knew I needed to keep my intensity level down – particularly challenging for a competitive individual like myself! Luckily, as my belly started to grow, it became much easier to handle 🙂 By about 22 weeks I was no longer able to do olympic lifting, and while many pregnant women continue doing snatches and cleans with a belly, it seemed very counterintuitive to me. The whole focus of olympic lifting is to keep the bar as close to your torso as possible, which takes so much practice. To change form for a few months, and have the bar go out and around the belly, not only increases risk of injury, but undoes all of the hard work I’ve put in so far. So instead, I switched to dumbbell cleans/snatches, KB swings, or technique work on parts of the lifts (like pulls, jerks or snatch balances). Outside of that, I didn’t have to change too much!
Heat Tolerance – well this was shocking. I used to be able to work out in 35 degree weather, no problem. But now, sitting outside in the shade for 15+ minutes in that kinda heat left me seriously nauseated. I’m having to be really careful about staying cool.
Energy Levels Overall – as of 26 weeks I started experiencing shortness of breath (which makes sense if you know what happens to your internal organs during pregnancy). I’m also quite a bit bigger so moving a little slower. As always, I’m listening to my body and resting when I need to – even if that means taking a nap when there’s something else I need/want to be doing, skipping a work out (which I don’t love doing) or opting out of social events that I know will be draining.
Transition to 3rd Trimester (26 weeks on…)
My stomach volume clearly started shrinking around 25/26 weeks (check out this video to see what happens to your internal organs during pregnancy!) and it is definitely impacting how I have to eat. I can no longer eat a large meal, and cruise on that for 4-6 hours (which is what I recommend in my practice – best for blood sugar regulation, gut health, being able to use both carbs and fat as fuel, and preventing “hanger”). Due to my uterus/baby squishing my stomach, eating a large meal results in serious discomfort – not reflux, but tons of pressure. Clearly there’s no room! So I’m now onto 3 small meals + 2-3 larger snacks throughout the day. For example:
Pre-workout: ham sandwich (2 slices clean ham + 2 pieces GF bread)
Breakfast: 2 eggs + greens + ½ cup potatoes OR green mango smoothie
Lunch: leftovers (usually 3-4oz meat, veggies, starch) OR eggs (if smoothie for breakfast) OR can of fish + salad + ½ bag plantain chips
Snack: small smoothie (blueberries, cherries, water, collagen) OR apple + organic PB OR banana muffin with coconut oil/ghee OR liver pate + apple slices OR plain, full-fat goat yogurt + collagen + blueberries
Snack: fruit OR banana muffin OR organic cherries with coconut milk OR ½ ham sandwich