FOR many women, whatever energy they’ve had throughout pregnancy gets zapped right out of them when their third trimester arrives, especially during the final 9th month.
And it makes total sense. It’s in the third trimester that our babies-to-be grow the majority of their body weight, packing on about an ounce a week, quickly adding weight to our bellies and stress on the rest of our bodies. As exhaustion sets in, the weekly workouts which have kept us strong up until now get pushed aside or left behind completely.
Staying motivated to continue exercising during this time is important to both your health and the health of your baby, especially since your hardest work (labor and delivery) is still yet to come.
1. Think Positively.
Now is not the time to be a pessimist. Thinking negatively can actually release hormones in your body that constrict your blood vessels and lessen the amount of oxygen to you and your baby. In labor, negative thoughts can make it difficult for you to progress. So stay positive and as often as you can, try to focus on the good.
Remember that your pregnancy in itself is a gift from Allah, subhana wa ta ala. Focus on the beauty of a living person being created inside of you, growing inside of you, and readying to greet you and bond with you. Most of all remember that whatever aches and pains you have during this time are just as much a reward for you as they are a trial.
The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “No fatigue, nor disease, nor sorrow, nor sadness, nor distress befalls a Muslim, even if it were the prick he received from a thorn, but that Allah expiates some of his sins for that.” –Recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari.
2. Get Purposeful Rest.
Rest is an important part of keeping our bodies healthy, whether it comes in the form of taking a break when needed or getting a good night’s sleep. But resting too much when your body doesn’t need it is a whole different story.
Allowing your body to become lethargic at this time can increase the difficulty that your limbs and joints will have carrying your ever-enlarging tummy around. It can also deteriorate any physical strength or endurance you’ve managed to gain from working out thus far.
If your body gets tired and needs a rest, then rest. But if you find that most of your rest during this trimester is out of sheer laziness or boredom then force yourself out of bed, and get moving!
3. Make Yourself Feel Beautiful.
Spending your last months of pregnancy feeling fat, tired, and completely uncoordinated is a definite de-motivator. But alhamdulilah it’s one that can easily be solved.
Right now, big is beautiful! And you can prove it to yourself every day by taking a little extra time on you. Instead of the usual shower, try a warm bubble bath scented with lavender or eucalyptus. Take a trip to get pampered at the spa. Head to the salon for a bold new haircut. When you get dressed in the mornings, skip your usual house cleaning/ baby chasing wear and put on a cute outfit with some makeup. You’ll probably get dirty throughout the day but at least you’ll look great in the mess.
4. Have Fun.
Unless you have the personality of a competitive athlete, workouts that feel too much like work will be a complete turnoff during your last trimester. Instead, skip the work and set your physical goals on having fun. This will help your body to stay active without feeling exhausted.
Join a walking club. Gather your girlfriends for a friendly badminton match. Entertain your kids with a family hula hoop contest. You can even bring back a sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha with a gentle race against your husband.
Aisha, radiAllahu anha, spoke about her traveling with the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and said: “I raced him and I beat him on my two feet. Then, when I carried more flesh, I raced him and he beat me. He then said: ‘This one defeat for that defeat.’” –Related by Ahmad and Abu Dawood, declared saheeh by Shaykh Albaanee
Remember that activities like jogging and running are safe to do during pregnancy if you were already used to doing them before conception. If you weren’t a runner before, then it’s probably better to make your race more of a quick walk.
5. Focus Your Fitness on Prepping for Labor and Delivery.
With labor and delivery just around the corner, third trimester is a great time to tune-in, more than ever, to all the muscles that will be needed to help push your baby out.
Walk! Walking is a great way to get in easy exercise. Walking before labor can help your baby descend and stay in a head-down position, the preferred position for birth. Walking during labor has been shown to help the pelvic muscles move more freely, helping labor to progress and relieve discomforts such as back labor.
Squat! Squatting is one of the most popular birthing positions around the world. Squatting enlists gravity to help bring your baby down and out, can widen the pelvic outlet by 20-30%, and reduce the risk of tears or episiotomy. Working on your squats now can help strengthen the leg and thigh muscles that will be needed to squat during labor. Instead of sitting around the house, squat around the house. Squat to pick things up, greet your children, fold laundry, or any other task that you may usually do while sitting.
Kegel! that’s because it’s probably the single most important exercise you can do to prep for labor and delivery. Keeping your kegel muscles strong can reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, vaginal tears or cuts, and help ensure that baby is born chin to chest. Perform kegel exercises every chance you get.