Pregnant Yogi: The Second Trimester
One of the hardest things about being pregnant for the first time is not knowing whether you are going to be one of those pregnant people that glow and bloom and simply swan through the whole thing. Or if you are going to be sick, and pretty broken, counting down the days. I truly believe that we can all cope with the latter, because women are made of amazingly tough stuff after all, but the not-knowing does put an extra layer of stress into the whole shebang.
Well, truth be told, I got away remarkably lightly in my first trimester. You can read all about it here if you missed it. Extreme tiredness was my worst symptom. Which was brutal to be honest, but given I experienced very little sickness I don't think I can complain at all.
And I am slightly embarrassed / extremely fortunate to say, that the second trimester was even more of a blessing!
That's not to say I didn't experience some more symptoms however...
The HUNGER sets in
In my first trimester post, I mentioned how as long as I never let myself get too hungry, any queasiness I experienced was pretty manageable. So I was already in snacking-mode in short, especially first thing in the morning, even though I am one of those people that would rather not even look at food until after well midday.
But even that fairly constant grazing didn't prepare me for the bottomless pit of hunger that I became as I headed into month four.
Seriously, my appetite was insatiable. And sadly, fruit and veggies weren't going to cut it. I needed carbs. ALL. THE. CARBS. Mainly bread. And sweets. And chocolate. And more bread. And more sweets. And more chocolate.
After my due date, and the sex of the baby, the next most common question I get asked is whether I have any weird cravings. And unless you count bread/sweets/chocolate as weird (I certainly don't given I ate all of these regularly, just with a tad more moderation, before I was pregnant), the answer is no. But woe-betide you if you get between this pregnant lady and her carbs basically!
The HORMONES set in
In between the consumption of quite heroic amounts of food (even my eat-for-England husband was impressed at my capacity to polish off an entire pizza in 15 minutes and still perk up at the offer of pudding afterwards!), this was a time where I could finally start to get back to my mat.
I had been so exhausted in the second part of my first trimester that my yoga practice has definitely taken a back seat. Especially in a world where I was still teaching at the weekends, and simultaneously pretending to everyone at work/in life that nothing was going on, there were lots of days where I didn't have the energy to stay awake past 6pm. Forget about pop out to a 90min Rocket class.
Thankfully, this started to change in the early part of my second trimester. My energy gradually came back, and as we started to tell people our news, a weight was lifted from my shoulders as well. So I was heading back to classes, and my self-practice made a return as well.
However... soon a different set hormones set in as well. Prior to weeks 14/15/16, when I had the energy to practice, what I did practice looked virtually no different to not-pregnant yoga. Inversions, moderate twists, laying on my belly... it all as still accessible, and more importantly, felt good. So I continued as normal.
But around that 16 week mark, I did start to feel my body change. I was still barely showing at this point (I hadn't "come out" on Instagram for example... my boobs were much more of a giveaway than non-existent bump, that's for sure!) so it wasn't the baby itself. Rather, the 'loosening' hormone relaxin. And my pelvis was the place it pitched up.
For the first time in my life I could "feel" my sacroiliac joints (at the back of the pelvis) and my pubic symphysis (at the front). I didn't experience any pain luckily, but I was just increasingly conscious of any movement in that region. Particularly shearing motions. So strangely, one of the simplest poses in my roster - Warrior 2 - was swiftly taken off the menu.
And I decided to call an expert in. While I am a trained yoga teacher, I am not specifically trained in pregnancy yoga. So I had an hour one-on-one with one of London's best pregnancy teachers, which was hugely helpful. She was much more cautious in general than me (probably no surprise) and I can't say I have followed her advice to remove chaturangas, inversions or back-bends from my practice at the early stage she advised. But she took me through lots of small adjustments I could make to most of my practice to protect and build more strength in my pelvic girdle (think lots of extra lifting in your standing poses etc).
In short, I don't believe the movement-scaremongers out there that think pregnant people are delicate flowers who can't lift a finger while they grow 10 more without even thinking about it. But I do believe in listening to your body, seeking expert advice, weighing it appropriately for you, and adjusting accordingly. Which for me, broadly meant business as usual, just with a little bit more care for my pelvic joints.
The BUMP sets in
As my second trimester progressed, thinking about my pelvis remained necessary but slowly became insufficient. Because FINALLY, my bump "popped". I say 'finally' because it is one of those things you are waiting for. And waiting for, and waiting for in my case. And not for any special secret sauce reasons... just because I am rather tall! At 5'9" (175cm for my European friends), I have a pretty decent distance between my ribs and my hips, certainly enough to hide a baby for the initial five plus months of a first-time pregnancy.
And hide it I did. Until 18-20 weeks. When it pretty much went to being a food baby (i.e. only showing after I'd eaten!) to a round-the-clock baby. Which along with being able to feel the baby move more and more - just the most wonderful feeling in the world - was lovely.
Apart from in one activity in my life.
My yoga practice.
Moving from light modifications to more significant modifications, whole sets of poses were stuck from my repertoire. Simply because the bump was getting in the way. Forward folds with legs together became impossible. Anything on my belly was obviously a no. And there are a surprising number of poses that require bringing knees into your chest, which also doesn't work with a bump. And I also felt the beginnings of the loss of strength: both in my core as everything started to separate, and secondly, as the impact of a greatly reduced several months of practice showed itself.
And because of all of this, classes became less and less of a good idea. While my practice was still strong enough that I could keep up and/or modify on the fly as often as needed, at least the vast majority of the time, my ego management was sadly not as well developed it could have been.
I found it increasingly hard to watch all these people around me getting to do so much of this practice that I once enjoyed and now could no longer manage. And to make matters worse, every now and again the teacher would cue something I used to do without a second thought (EPK2 to chinstand perhaps) and I would try, fail, and realise that while I could cope with the failure - after all, that is what you are on a yoga mat to practice - I was doing things that may well be putting my health and my baby's health at risk. Which is obviously an absolutely awful idea.
So classes, which were already much reduced, started to drop away entirely. And the rest of this pregnant yoga journey became one of self-practice.
Which itself changed yet again in my third trimester, but that my friends, is a story for another day...