preventing swelling during pregnancy

I hadn’t had any trouble with swelling during my pregnancy until, ironically, this morning when I woke up and my wedding ring didn’t want to slide on.  Since I’ve had this problem occasionally in the mornings and also before pregnancy, I’ll move forward with my theory that one reason I’ve dodged the swelling is my frequent visits to the pool.  I did a little research and found that the weight of water and change in gravity can help distribute excess fluid and prevent it from pooling in limbs.  It is generally accepted that moderate exercise during pregnancy is not only safe but beneficial, for this and other reasons.  Obvious restrictions apply to certain sports, but luckily my favorite is at the top of the “Yes” list!

On Thursday as I stood at the head of an empty lane with another woman, she turned to me and said “We can fit three in this lane”.  I looked around for the third person, confused, then she pointed to my belly and giggled.  All three of us shared the lane- and we didn’t even need to circle swim!  My swim was really pleasant and I did an easy 900 yds with no trouble breathing, in less time than usual.  Yesterday’s swim wasn’t quite as nice because I was avoided kicks every time the guy with the weird stroke technique sharing my lane passed by.  Also, the pool looked dirtier than usual and my goggles wouldn’t quit fogging.  I was determined to swim 1/2 mile again so I tried to focus on enjoying being in the water, but was plenty happy when I finished!

the workouts: 2 – 1/2 mile swims = 1 mile!


dreaming of the future

The comparison between racing and giving birth has come up several times in the past few days, from Clif Shot Bloks being good electrolyte snacks to keep in both tri-bag and hospital bag to if I can push through the pain in completing an Ironman, I can birth my baby.  All of this is speculation on my part but comforting nonetheless.  The last comparison I made between Ironman and something else was in preparation for and performance of last summer’s Ring Cycle at the opera.  It worked well for me then, so hopefully now too!

I’m spending more time these days thinking about exercise and craving that which I will do post-pregnancy than actually working out.  I even had a dream about running a few nights ago.  Many people might call this a nightmare, but for me it was a reminder of what’s to come and also an affirmation of my current strength.  In my dream I remember two details.  I ran 30 minutes then leaned over to unlace my shoes and found that my belly was it’s current pregnant size.  My instant thought before happily drifting back to sleep was “maybe I’ll go for a run in the morning”.  Obviously that didn’t happen but once morning rolled around, the pleasantness of the dream lingered.

My activity this past week has been purely on the yoga mat or in the pool.  I walk a bit but even that is uncomfortable except first thing in the morning.  My biggest walk last week was accompanying my husband to the bus stop then returning home- 15 blocks total.  I was exhausted and almost skipped my swim that day!  The swimming and yoga still feel wonderfully soothing to my body and meditative for my mind, so hopefully I will be able to continue both until the big day!

interest is in the details

I can’t remember the last time I swam an entire mile in one day!  Since I am a very goal-oriented exerciser, I now set smaller goals- like swimming a mile in four days combined.  This goal began on Friday and since I missed Sunday I still had half mile to do today.  Luckily I had the time and inclination, and my body was agreeable.  I’m pretty pleased with the fact that, at 36 weeks pregnant, I can still get through 1/2 mile without difficulty.  Since most of my workouts are swims at this point, I try to think of each swim as a new adventure.  Which characters will I share the pool with today?  Will I breathe easily or be gasping for air the entire time?  Will Baby sleep through the motion or join in my workout?  How many laps can I fit in before the obligatory bathroom break?  Will my body feel fluid or will I find a new discomfort?  Yes, these are the thoughts entertaining me as I swim lap after lap of freestyle.

A couple of “adventurous” details from these past few swims:  1) Breast stroke and back stroke are off the playing field.  Breast stroke hurts one of my hips and I have more difficulty breathing when I back stroke.  2) Finis makes a Monofin which I saw in use next to me Saturday.  The guy swam the entire length along the bottom of the pool, feet stuck together, imitating a mermaid.  3) When the guy in the lane next to me repeatedly banged arms with me as we passed, it didn’t occur to him that he was swimming with a wide armspan, reaching over into my lane.  Nope, wasn’t just the pregnant lady taking up too much space again.  4) On Friday I chose to share a lane with someone super slow, figuring at least I wouldn’t hold him up if we ended up circling.  Luckily we didn’t up circling because the super slow guy was actually moving much faster than me.  Humbling.  5) Not everyone knows how to circle, but I was still surprised after asking a lady to join her lane when she told me (dripping wet and cold from my pre-swim shower) that she just had 4 more laps to finish and then I could take her spot.

And so it goes…

the workout: 1 mile, split into 400 yds, 500 yds, 900 yds

jiggle butt

Yesterday in yoga I realized my rear end had become jiggly.  This is something I’ve worked hard to avoid my entire adult life and a quality my yoga teacher praises as being essential for childbirth.  Well, looks like my body is ready for having this baby!  In every class we do juicy hips- hip circles, figure eights and samba-like shaking to become soft and supple.  She reminds us frequently not to clench lower body muscles during standing poses.  Flowing squats (starting with arms high in the air then squatting and bringing hands to the ground or bolster)  are used to strengthen and tone the pelvic wall instead of traditional kegels.  In Jane’s classes we strive to be comfortable in our new bodies and quiet in our minds, plus the beginning is like therapy as we go around the room introducing ourselves and mentioning anything we’re concerned about or would like focus on.  We do what feels like hours of shoulder strengthening exercises (which I’ll get around to posting one of these days!) to build strength for hours of baby holding.  And after class my friends and I round it out with Arizmendi Bakery‘s pizza of the day.  What’s not to love?

This morning I decided to take the bus to the JCC because free parking has a 2 hour limit and I didn’t want to pay for the garage.  I had scheduled my morning with water running, Hebrew lesson and a massage!  I saw my bus coming so began running and waving my arms, but it drove away without me.  I was indignant that the bus driver didn’t wait for a pregnant woman but still made it to class on time via another bus and a slightly longer walk.

Today and also on Tuesday I felt strong and motivated in the water.  Tuesday’s class was crowded with girls I knew so naturally I focused more on chatting than exercising but still got a good workout.  Today the instructor didn’t show up.  She’s a doula so we all know that she often doesn’t have time to find a sub.  Six of us were there so we ran the class ourselves, moving up and down the pool in pairs, remembering what exercises we could.  This suited me just fine since I needed to leave early.  After 40 minutes I moved to the warm pool to stretch, then took a leisurely shower and hurried upstairs to my Hebrew lesson.  My Hebrew is actually improving since I’ve been doing my homework lately and I was able to read and make sense of a couple paragraphs before going back to writing and verbs!  The reward for exercising and studying today was a wonderful prenatal massage.  I’m so glad I purchased the Yelp JCC deal when I saw it  (a cheap month’s membership and a massage) and am sorry my month is ending soon.  Back to paying for water classes next week!

weekend opposites

I felt like I needed to rest yesterday, so I stayed in bed listening to podcasts and relaxing until mid-morning then took it really easy all day.  By late afternoon my body was craving a float so we went to the pool.  I found my groove as soon as I lowered myself into the water and began swimming.  It felt so easy and good that I swam 1/4 mile without stopping before I called it a day and moved to the warm pool for a stretch.  I don’t know what was different from usual but the breathing felt effortless and I didn’t tire myself out at all!

Today was the total opposite of yesterday.  Again, I tried to relax in bed an extra hour but still got up feeling tired and decided to go to a spin class anyway.  I alerted the instructor that I’d probably only stay for half the class, hoping I’d feel more energetic as I pedaled and end up completing an hour.  No such luck!  My belly is really in the way these days, so I spent most of the class sitting up on my seat, hands behind my back for support.  Luckily the class focused on climbing out of the saddle so we were up and down every :30-1:00.  I did most of these climbs with very low resistance and tried not to bounce around too much.  Standing and pedaling is, ironically, the most comfortable position these days because the belly doesn’t get bumped at all!  After 35 minutes I decided I was finished and happily came home and eat.

the workouts:  450 yd swim, easy but continuous; 35 minute spin, 10 miles

creepy blond spin instructor

This morning I was on a roll with health care-related phone calls to the east coast and didn’t want to stop until I was done.  Finishing up business combined with not really feeling like bouncing around in the water made it easy to skip swim class.  However, I still had my 10am Hebrew lesson at the JCC so I packed up a bag with both gym and swim items so I could chose what I wanted to do.  After taking in as much Hebrew as my brain could handle, I decided I still didn’t feel like getting wet so I tried one of the fancy spin bikes that has video workout screens installed.  I sat on the bike and followed instructions from a blond cyclist who grinned at me, looking as if biking through a blue nothing-ness accompanied by out of balance techno music was the most fun he’d ever had.  I chose a level 1, 20 minute workout (yeah, not really pushing myself today!) and did most of what the instructor told me to do, keeping my RPM in sync with the computer and coming out of the saddle for a few of the climbs.  I was far from worn out at the end but felt satisfied for today.

Next, I picked up 3 lb hand weights and did two sets of several arm and shoulder exercises then concluded with a short stretch.  Feeling good!

the workout: 20 minute spin

10 reps x 2: squats w/ shoulder press, forward lat raise balancing on one leg, bent arm lat raise standing balancing other leg, dumbbell curls w/ slow squats, backward tricep extension, bird-dog, chatturanga push-ups on knees