This week began my third trimester, a pregnancy milestone that instills both incredible excitement and more than a little apprehension. For a while it felt like every week took a month to pass, especially those in the lead up to important scans, or in the weeks leading up to our pregnancy announcement, but now they’re whizzing by!
Along the way, I’ve been making little changes to my lifestyle and routine, so I thought that now, on the home-stretch, I’d share what’s helped me so far. I’ll break these down into the three I’m most often asked about: my pregnancy skincare, exercise and lifestyle changes.
I probably don’t need to tell you that I’m fastidious about my skincare. In fact, I was booked in for a facial on the day I discovered I was pregnant, so pregnancy skincare and the safety of treatments and ingredients was one of the very first things I had to consider.
In another article, I’ve covered the changes pregnancy causes to your skin and hair, and a skincare treatments to avoid while pregnant, so I’d like to focus on the positive changes I’ve made, and what’s really worked for me.
We got pregnant during a trip to the States during the height of summer, where we spent three weeks exploring the city streets of Boston, New York and Washington, DC, followed by a few days on the beach in Miami. Despite all the sunscreen and skincare I toted around the world, as well as the hats, sunglasses and the attempts to stay sun-safe, my skin still wore the effects of the constant UV exposure by the end, and I returned home in skin repair-mode.
Pregnant in Miami (and totally oblivious!)
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First Trimester Skincare Changes
As my skin was already suffering sun damage, I was especially aware of the risk of pregnancy pigmentation, known as Chloasma or ‘Pregnancy Mask’ – caused by your body producing more melanin when the skin is exposed to the sun. While I’m vigilant about application in the morning, I’ve realised I also need to be reapplying throughout the day – even an SPF50 can’t be expected to last for 18 hours of daylight.
My go-to brightening and hyper-pigmentation treatment has long been dermalogica’s powerbright TRx range, three leave-on treatment products which are designed to be integrated with your existing regime.
I love both the feel (really, really silky smooth) and effect of the range, using c-12 pure bright serum morning and night, paired with pure light hyaluronic acid SPF50 in the morning and pure night in the evening, an incredibly velvetty moisturiser which includes my favourite brightening ingredient, vitamin C, and soothing cranberry and raspberry seed oils. While vitamin A (retinol) and AHA/BHA acids are best avoided during pregnancy, Vitamin C and hyaluronic acids are your best defense against melanin damage and dehydration, so I’m also slathering on biolumin C serum like it’s going out of fashion!
Second Trimester Skincare Changes
Especially since the beginning of the year (this heat!), my skin has been feeling dry and a little extra sensitive. Each trimester I’ve visited Louise Gray Skincare for a treatment and face-mapping to identify my skin’s unique needs, and taken on Lou’s recommendations for products.
To compensate for the sensitivity, I’ve swapped out my everyday antioxidant hydramist for the ultracalming mist toner and I’m using the ultracalming serum too. The ultracalming range is especially good to combat inflammatory triggers and stressed skin that lead to sensitisation and helps to soothe and calm skin, which is exactly what I feel like in the summer months.
Third Trimester Skincare Changes
Just recently, I’ve noticed my tummy getting dry and sometimes itchy, a symptom of the skin stretching. While keeping my facial skincare the same, Louise has also recommended I try (for the first time) some of dermalogica’s body therapy range. I’ve never been fussy about my body wash or moisturiser before, but at a time where my skin is changing, and stretching so much, I’m really keen to try something really hydrating. The condition body wash is a soap free wash which won’t dry my skin, and the hydrating cream with lactic acid and natural hydroxy acid should really help for the final ‘stretch’ of this pregnancy.
TBC as I get further into my third trimester.
Exercising While Pregnant: F45 and more
As I’m asked about F45 training while pregnant on almost a daily basis, I thought it best to summarise my F45 pregnancy fitness journey through the last two trimesters, and how I’m currently adapting the HIIT style and cardio workouts to suit me and my changing body.
Returning home from our trip, I couldn’t wait to get back into the gym. Though we’d walked between 20 and 30,000 steps most days, I’d missed my daily routine a lot. I’d been at a boxing gym for a little over a year, but with F45 Remuera opening much closer to home, I was ready for a change, and was even hoping to complete the F45 8 week challenge. I’d been an F45 member three years before, so I knew what to expect, but of course, I had no idea I was actually already pregnant.
First Trimester F45 Exercise Changes
I knew I was following all the right advice, from my GP, midwife and authoritative books on the subject by keeping up with my regular exercise throughout my pregnancy, but I have to admit that even in the first trimester, I couldn’t keep up with my regular level of fitness and exercise. I returned to a few weeks of boxing workouts after our trip, but my body physically couldn’t keep up with the intensity I was accustomed to. I attributed this to the time-off I’d just had, because I didn’t know I was pregnant, but I definitely wasn’t feeling ‘myself’ even at 2-3 weeks pregnant, and I felt like I was lagging behind, especially as I was in class with Blair.
F45 was completely different. As I didn’t have a recent F45 fitness level to measure myself up to, I wasn’t trying to keep up with anyone else, and I really did feel like I could go at my own pace in class, especially as everyone else was new too. I told the head trainer at F45 I was pregnant, so if at any point I chose not to do an exercise, or took it slowly, she knew I wasn’t just slacking off. During the first trimester I didn’t need to adapt many F45 exercises – my baby bump was non-existent and my fitness level automatically modified the intensity of the workouts. While experts used to limit pregnant women’s exercise heart rate to 140 bmp, today heart rate limits aren’t typically imposed unless women have a high risk pregnancy or there are other factors. If there was any exercise which made me feel uncomfortable or was too strenuous (e.g. box-jumps), I simply swapped them for squats or lunges.
Total First Trimester Exercise:
First Month: 9 x Boxing classes
Second Month: 14 x F45 classes (6 strength, 6 cardio, 2 mixed)
Third Month: 24 x F45 classes (12 strength, 8 cardio, 4 mixed)
Second Trimester F45 Exercise Changes, Reformer Pilates & Injury
The biggest change to my second trimester exercise was my mindset. I realised that rather than working out for myself and pushing myself to get stronger and fitter, I am now exercising for the benefit of another human. Fitness can be hugely beneficial late in pregnancy (when we have to constantly carry around another 15kg on our bodies), the marathon of labour, and recovery after the birth. There are also many benefits to your baby during pregnancy from fitness – with fit mums having lower blood pressure, delivering healthier babies with better heart function and brain health – and being at reduced risk of gestational diabetes too.
F45 Pregnancy Adaptations: I had expected my energy to pick up in the second trimester… I was told I’d feel amazing… I really didn’t. I had a few hours’ burst of energy in the morning when I woke up, which got me through at a few F45 classes each week, but I was finding the cardio-based days much harder than I had before. Half way through my second trimester I discovered I actually had an iron deficiency (common during pregnancy) and started on iron tabs, which kicked in right at the end of my sixth month.
I wasn’t doing many cardio days, but even on those which I attended, I adapted most cardio exercise into strength-based ones – see suggested adaptations below. I’ve been able to continue some cardio, such as rowing and biking, though I try to take it a little easier. There were also exercises which became practically impossible during my second trimester, such as anything which involved lying on my stomach, twisting or crunching my abs (for obvious reasons). I can still do push-ups and plank holds, and have now incorporated more wall-sits, plie lunges, and resistance band work such as crab-walks, hip-bridges and lateral band walks (see here). Lying on your back is not recommended, as it can hinder blood-flow to the heart, and though we don’t do a lot on our backs generally, I have substituted with kneeling glute kickbacks.
Reformer Pilates: From 20 weeks, I also started reformer pilates, so my fifth month has fewer F45 workouts. Reformer pilates is great exercise for pregnant women, right up to the end of the third trimester for many. While I enjoyed it, personally I prefer F45, but when I don’t feel up to it, I’ll return to the reformer.
Injury: Unfortunately, during a very routine exercise on the reformer, I actually over-stretched the muscles around my tailbone in my fifth month doing a side-split leg adductor (which I’ve since read shouldn’t be done during pregnancy due to hormone relaxin). While I recovered within a few weeks, I then slipped in the bathroom and re-stretched it (symphysis pubis diastasis) so I am now seeing a physiotherapist for recovery. Blair had been seeing Gabe at Physio Logic for a few years, so he booked me in straight away, and I’ve found him really, really good to work with so far.
Total Second Trimester Exercise:
Fourth Month: 19 x F45 classes (9 strength, 4 cardio, 6 mixed)
Fifth Month: 14 x F45 classes (8 strength, 2 cardio, 4 mixed); 10 x Reformer Pilates
Sixth Month: 16 x F45 classes (8 strength, 3 cardio, 5 mixed); 2 x Reformer Pilates
Suggested F45 Adaptations:
Box jumps – step ups
Jumping lunges – plie lunge
Burpees – burpee walk outs
Running/jumping – resistance band lateral walk, wall-sit
Sit ups, other ab exercises – plank hold, side plank standing side crunches
TBC as I get further into my third trimester. Pictured at the end of my fifth month.
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Pregnancy Lifestyle Changes: Weight Gain, Naps, Work & More
While I always try to take care of myself, once I discovered I was pregnant I felt especially conscious of making good lifestyle decisions. I stopped drinking alcohol the day I found out and have been more careful with food safety during pregnancy, but I’ve also made a lot of lifestyle changes along the way.
First Trimester Lifestyle Changes: R & R and Weight Gain
I’d taken a prenatal vitamin in the past, but they hadn’t come on our travels, so I got straight back onto Folic Acid and a Prenatal Multi which help to protect the baby from neural tube defects. Though I’d been consuming flat whites back-to-back for the last week to help combat exhaustion, I even cut down on caffeine, and actually allowed my body to rest when tired (most unlike me).
In the very early stages of pregnancy, I didn’t really allow myself to believe it was really happening. I was hyper-aware of the chance of miscarrying early on, and didn’t want to get my hopes up too soon. I didn’t tell many people beyond my close friend group and family, who I told early on, and I didn’t start making any plans for the future. Because I didn’t suffer “morning sickness” at all, and my only symptom was being tired, I didn’t really ‘feel’ pregnant.
I did actually start writing a pregnancy diary straight away, though it wasn’t made with love, which was in the process of creation. In fact, that was the biggest lifestyle change I made during the first trimester, I spent around 2/3rds of my time in bed, feeling completely exhausted, and worked on creating what then became the made with love pregnancy journal. I completed it at the end of my first trimester, and launched it when I announced my pregnancy at 20 weeks.
First Trimester Weight Gain: I put on 5.7 kg (12.5 lbs) in the first three months of my pregnancy (more than I gained in the second trimester), which was sometimes difficult to hide, especially as I hadn’t announced yet. The majority of the gain was in the first month (3.1kg) before I knew I was pregnant, when I was eating more to compensate for my lack of energy, and moving a lot less for the same reason! When I discovered I was pregnant, I allowed my body to rest more, though still enjoyed plenty of buttery toast, and gained 1.2 kg in my second month and 1.5 kg in my third.
Three months in and trying to hide almost 6kg:
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Second Trimester Lifestyle Changes: Low Iron, Motivation and Prenatal Massage
Reaching my second trimester felt like such a huge milestone, and following the 12 week NT scan, I did start to feel a little more like we were actually going to have a baby. It wasn’t until Christmas (end of fourth month/around 20 weeks) that I actually started to look pregnant though, and only in the afternoons (am I the only one?)
I soon invested in maternity leggings which I’ve totally lived in since, I love the Cotton On maternity leggings, cheap enough ($30) that I won’t feel bad only using them for a few months, and they’re actually squat-proof).
During the second trimester, I discovered I had low iron, so I’ve been on iron tabs for six weeks now, and they’ve just started to take effect. In the meantime, I had a lot of afternoon naps, and achieved very little work-wise. I found this really hard, as I’d decided to launch made with love on January 1st, and I barely had any energy to do so, or to put into effect any marketing or promotions. I’m really hoping the third trimester brings more energy and motivation. Instead of relying on coffee, I’ve been eating more healthy snacks and staying hydrated, using our sodastream 5 times a day.
My favourite thing about the second trimester has been prenatal massage. I’ve only just started, but I’m going to be visiting Pullman Spa once a month from now on (I wish I hadn’t waited so long to start). Massage supports the body through the muscular and structural changes that occur in pregnancy, and obviously feels amazing…
Second Trimester Weight Gain: After the weight gain of the first trimester, I was conscious not to eat too many refined sugars and carbs, as I was aware of gestational diabetes, so my weight stabilised a lot more with a total gain of 3.3 kg – bringing my total weight gain by second trimester 9kg (around 20 lbs). Women who are average weight before pregnancy generally should gain 25 to 35 pounds (11-16 kg), so I’ll update this through the third trimester too.
Overall, I’m feeling really good and have loved my pregnancy, I know I’ve been very lucky not to be very unwell, have skin issues or body aches, which I am sure is at least partly attributable to really focussing on my physical wellbeing and allowing my body to rest as much as it demands.
I’d love to know what changes you’ve made along your pregnancy journey so far, leave a comment below and follow Pregnancy Journal on instagram.
Featured image taken from our Womens Day shoot, credit to photographer Dean O’Gorman, hair and makeup Krisztina Moricz, stylist Benjamin Farry.