Something I noticed pretty early on in pregnancy is how out of breath I became at the smallest of things. I’ll be honest I enjoy feeling like my body is working hard, so the fact that my daily cycle commute is now a full-blown spin class is something I can live with. Heavy breathing down the microphone during live lockdown workouts not so much. Hopefully, I styled out being the most out of breath person in the class.
Stairs are now a whole new challenge, add a couple of shopping bags and I’m pretty much nailed after a trip to the supermarket.
So why this sudden fitness fail?
During early pregnancy, it’s actually not the baby causing this breathlessness (that joy comes later) but it’s a result of hormonal changes in your body and adaptations in the respiratory system (heart and lungs) as your body adjusts to sharing oxygen and blood with the baby (albeit a very small one).
Later in pregnancy, I’m reliably informed this gets much worse as your expanding uterus starts pushing up against your diaphragm and pressing on your lungs. Good news.
The result, you can’t quite take in as much air as usual and therefore have to breathe more frequently.
I can’t help feeling that most aspects of the growing human process have suffered a few design faults along the way.
What can you do about it? Well, to be honest not much. This is just another bonus you have to deal with so I'd highly recommend embracing how hard your body is working as some sort of mini life workout (on a separate note this can also bring huge benefits to your cardiovascular fitness down the line – more on this in a later post).
Failing that, here’s a few tips that might help below:
Stop and rest - Not exactly rocket science but getting too breathless is dangerous so if you’re running up a mountain (or getting up off the sofa) and can’t catch your breath or feel you’re about to pass out, stop and let your breathing recover before you carry on.
Slow down – I have spent most of my life doing everything as fast as I possibly could so I’ve just had to learn to slow down and not view daily activity as a race. It’s a refreshing approach to life.
Talk – the best way to assess whether to slow down is to monitor your ability to hold a conversation (in theory anyway, no need to run around the park on the phone) but if you can’t talk and it feels too much, reign it in.
Listen to your body - As with most preggo training advice, how much you can handle will be personal to you. What someone else manages comfortably whilst pregnant, does not mean you should do it too so listen to your body, lose the competitiveness, and if it doesn’t feel right, slow down.
Even before I knew I was pregnant, I was already listening to my body and had started walking more during marathon training because something just wasn’t quite right. There are times in life to go hard and times to chill so try to enjoy that slower pace whilst you can.
You are growing a human being and the side effects can be far from ideal. There are times in life to go hard and times to chill so try to enjoy that slower pace whilst you still have the opportunity.