Pregnancy exercise…the second time round

Being pregnant the second-time round has been a quite different for me (and poor Gus who has had to deal with the differences!). With Max, I was working in an office in the city so quite happy to pop out for all sorts of sugary carbohydrate deliciousness. Great for cravings not so good for the expanding waistline! This time round I’ve been at home more with Max (2).  Trying to keep up with him which creates a whole other type of pregnancy fatigue.

What should I do???

I get asked a lot about exercising when you’re pregnant. As a former high-performance athlete training and competing was my job. I’m also a qualified physiotherapist so admittedly I do know a bit about how the body works or not works. My body is used to and likes moving (pregnant or not). Exercise during pregnancy for me is not about maintaining a certain weight. It’s about keeping my sanity and maintaining some strength for the birth and when the baby arrives.

Here’s some tips I give to pregnant Mums who reach out to me….

  • Go within your own fitness level. Everyone is different and will react differently to exercise stress. If I’m having a day when my body is not cooperating I simply stop or tone it down. In the past where I would have pushed through I can easily chill.

  • Pregnancy brings on some weird body changes. Be mindful of the increase in elastin in pregnancy with regard to ligament laxity. I’ve found my pelvis to be particularly painful at times. To provide stability I’ve worn a pelvic belt which helped do the job of the lax ligaments.

  • You don’t want to overcook your baby. It’s been a ridiculously hot summer in New Zealand, just ask any pregnant lady. At times I would do some physical activity at 8pm to avoid the peak heat of day.

  • Get going with pelvic floor exercises. Just imagine a bowling ball (baby) in a hammock (pelvic floor). That’s all I need to say in regards to the pressure these muscles are under. You will thank yourself for it post-natally.

  • Lots of people will offer advice in a well-intentioned way but remember you know your body best.


What I’ve done pregnancy exercise wise with numero 2

Trimester 1

The tiredness factor really hit me this time combined with a little dose of morning sickness. I remember needing to be in bed at 730PM cos I just so dam tired. This fatigue affected how much exercise I could do and what I could be bothered doing. I knew exercise would help me feel a tad better but at times I simply couldn’t muster the energy to move.


When I did exercise I would aim for 15-20mins blocks. Through experience, I’ve found once you get into it you do keep going so 20mins would turn into 25/30mins. I would walk, if I felt like it break into a gentle run or intervals and I used the stationary bike as my main forms of exercise. I was doing yoga initially but downward dog when you’re a bit queasy is not the best.


Lots of my friends told me I’d be bigger earlier the second time. Naturally my athlete brain kicked in and I thought ‘that’s not going to happen to me’. Turns out they were right. So I made sure I did some body weight strength exercises focused around my posture to avoid becoming the pregnant hunch back of Notre Dame.

Body weight squats


Second Trimester

I started finally feeling a little better! As you come through the yucky patch I felt like I could do more with more energy. I was able to do a few circuits in the gym. Mainly I would include body weight exercises but if I felt like doing some light weights (for me) I would. I also ran when I felt like it and walked when I felt like it too. When I say I ran I’m not talking about running for over 30mins and generally if I did run up to 30mins I’d do it in interval blocks. I enjoy running up hills (weird I know) so I would often do some intervals up hills as well with long recoveries:)

Happy as after a run/walk outside…coming out of the fog


Few kettlebell swings for good measure at a light weight


I like using the heavy bag to do some kicks (great for your gluts and pelvic stability) and also little bit of boxing. I boxed a lot with Max but decided whilst it was super fun I didn’t want to be kicking in my abs as much this time round. As I got bigger I’ve been super conscious of maintaining some spinal mobility. Using a broom stick in a simple series of rotational exercises is really good for spinal health and your general posture.


I had a real epiphany when I was in labour with Max. Things were going extremely slowly and I suddenly realised “how the hell am I going to undo 15 years of training in 9 months for my core to really relax to get this baby out!”. So, this time I have been super aware of relaxing my muscles whenever I can and avoiding too much high intensity workouts. I worked hard (with a women’s health physio) to make sure my core returned following Max but I was super aware that I needed to let things go early with number 2.


Here’s a snippet of some of the training I did when I was pregnant with Max and the blog I wrote about that journey here


Third Trimester

The Longest home straight ever!!!

During the third trimester, I developed some circulatory issues in my legs into my groin. Whilst they thought I may have developed clots it turned out I had bad varicose veins. Turns out this is quite common during pregnancy but no one really talks about it. It isn’t pretty! I really slowed down because of my veins. However, I know exercise helps circulation issues so I did what I could and quite surprisingly they’re doing so much better.


I got into the pool during this time which was awesome. Not only a relief to get out of the heat and swim but also such a nice feeling to be free from gravity. I would do freestyle lengths or even some water running was a nice feeling. With the summer heat combined with burning leg pain from the varicose veins I was quite happy to exercise late or early to get some movement in (apart from chasing Max!).


Def not my last time running as it looks much faster than my trot at 34 weeks up the drive!

I did my last driveway runs at 34 weeks. The next day my pelvis sent me a message saying no more please. I was happy to last that long. I’ve had some physio on my back and pelvis to help with my symptoms as I’ve got bigger and that’s been really helpful. Since then I’ve simply done the odd walk or a few laps in the pool which is nice to be outside and moving.


Figure out your limits expecting Mums

Overall exercise wise I’ve been super conscious to go within my limits, actually not get to my limits this time. Being pregnant does weird things to your body (and mind). I’m currently in the last few days before our due date and looking forward to welcoming a new bundle safely into the world however it may come. I’m also looking forward to moving again as I’m now waddling around like a penguin! Exercising safely during pregnancy can be great for you and your baby, just like anything during pregnancy take it one day at a time. You don’t need to sit down for nine months but you do need to have an extra sit down at times:)

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4 Responses to Pregnancy exercise…the second time round

  1. Joan March 21, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

    Awesome informative post Sarah. Wish I’d known this when having my babies (now a grandma)

  2. Rebecca Lang March 22, 2018 at 3:14 am #

    Hey Sez great read. I’m not even pregnant but I still loved reading your opinion on the subject!

    Love Bec x

    • Sarah Cowley April 16, 2018 at 10:33 pm #

      You’re awesome Bec! Can’t wait to see you guys soon. Love ya X

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