Exercise Barriers in the Second Trimester
Unlike your first trimester when nausea, vomiting, and fatigue reigned supreme, your second trimester is probably less exhausting. In fact, most women find this to be the best phase of pregnancy. Don't be concerned if you wouldn't quite put it that way. Remember, the range of normal varies widely.
As previously discussed, placenta previa is a condition in which the placenta covers all or part of the cervix. This actually comes in degrees from a full previa, where the entire cervix is covered by the placenta, to a marginal or partial previa, where only part of the cervix is covered. You might be diagnosed with a previa if you have bleeding or a mid-trimester ultrasound.
Even if you're feeling and looking great in this second part of pregnancy, there may be reasons to stop or modify your exercise routine. Generally, your doctor or midwife will discuss this need with you, but you should always feel comfortable bringing the subject up with him or her, or cutting back on your own.
The good news is that over 95 percent of all placenta previas will naturally resolve themselves without you ever lifting a finger. The reason this happens is that the lower segment of the uterus does much of its growth in the latter half of the second trimester and in the third trimester. When this growth occurs, the placenta “moves” away from the cervix resolving the problem.
If the placenta previa does not resolve itself by the end of pregnancy, a cesarean section is planned. A baby cannot be born through the placenta. If labor begins, bleeding may endanger you or the baby due to blood loss.
When it comes to exercise, your restrictions will depend largely on the extent of your previa and whether or not you've had any bleeding. If you have an appointment for an ultrasound and are told about the previa, discontinue all exercise until you talk to your doctor or midwife about the safety of resuming exercise.
In this part of pregnancy, you will see a dramatic increase in your blood volume. If you have your blood tested for anemia at this juncture, you might be given a false diagnosis of anemia, because it takes the red blood cells a bit to catch up with their production. Never hesitate to ask to be retested.
Anemia is also known as iron deficiency. Many pregnant women have this very common problem. It is mostly likely to be diagnosed in the second trimester of pregnancy because of routine blood work done at your practitioner's office.
Your red blood cells act as your body's oxygen-carrying messengers in your blood. Pregnancy demands more oxygen because you need oxygen for your baby as well as for your normal needs. When you are anemic, this ability is decreased. Signs of anemia include:
Shortness of breath
Loss of energy
Low blood pressure
Even if your doctor or midwife doesn't test your blood for anemia, be sure to report these symptoms at your visits. While you may put it off as being just another part of pregnancy, anemia is something that can greatly impact you, even at the time of birth. You don't wish to take the risks associated with anemia when they can be easily treated, usually with just some minor dietary changes.
If you are anemic, you may need to back down on your exercise levels a bit. As you can see, the symptoms of anemia would make it difficult to exercise anyway. As you build your iron stores back up, and as your iron levels rise and become less affected by anemia, you can gradually increase your workouts.
What about prenatal vitamins?
Prenatal vitamins can't provide you with everything you need. In fact, much of the iron you take in your vitamin form will not be absorbed. Try eating foods rich in iron, such as dark green leafy vegetables, red meats, and some fortified cereals. Never depend solely on a vitamin for your nutrition needs.
As opposed to late miscarriage, which is technically defined by many states as either a specific gestation, or a specific fetal weight, no matter the condition of the baby at birth, preterm labor is defined as any labor or series of contractions that occur before 37 weeks' gestation (from your last menstrual period).
The risk of preterm labor is that if your baby is born before it is ready, it can suffer severe health consequences, including many that are life-threatening. Your doctor or midwife should discuss with you how to be aware of signs of preterm labor and what the procedures are for calling in if you think you're in early labor.
Signs of preterm labor to watch for include:
Dull, low backache.
Increase in vaginal discharge.
Bleeding from the vagina.
Sudden gush of fluid from the vagina (waters breaking).
Slow, continuous trickle of fluid from the vagina.
Four or more contractions an hour.
Increase in vaginal or pelvic pressure.
Decrease in fetal movement.
Feeling that something's not right.
Call your practitioner right away if you experience any of these signs of early labor. Your doctor or midwife might warn you about some other specific signs, so be sure to add these to your list and know what to do if you experience them. Don't let anyone put you off, or your fear of bothering someone stop you from making the call.
Prematurity is the leading cause of death and illness in newborn babies. With proper treatment and early awareness, oftentimes preterm labor can be stopped, thus preventing the early birth of your baby.
If you experience preterm labor, it is important to follow your practitioner's instructions to the letter. This will probably include limiting your ability to exercise. He or she may even order bed rest for you either at home or in the hospital. Either way exercise at this point in pregnancy would be more detrimental to your health and well-being and that of your baby.
Be sure to ask any questions you have of your doctor or midwife. These are obviously not the only reasons to modify your workouts. Always talk to your doctor or midwife at each visit about your routines and how you are modifying them as your pregnancy progresses.