Pregnant Athlete Journal, Week 14: Beware the Underfill

This was a big week – we got the results back on the CVS procedure and found out the sex of our baby! Also, I learned about “underfill” and why I feel so drained. Literally, it turns out.

This has been a big week. Relaxin is supposedly peaking in my system, which is a hormone that promotes the stretching or “relaxing” of connective tissue, especially around the pelvis, so it’s easier to give birth. I’ve also noticed weird pulling feelings in my knees, ankles, and feet while walking over the last few days, but it’s nothing painful. (I really hope my hobbit feet don’t get any bigger, but they probably will.) After the low back incident, I’ve been a little worried about overstretching, so I’ve done more isometric strength exercises like straight-arm planks and holding a lunge (like Warrior poses in Yoga).

During spinning or walking, I seem to get winded much faster than before. As my heart rate monitor is no longer accurate, I’m trying to go by my “perceived rate of exertion” or RPE. On a 10-point scale, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) says I should stay between 5-8 RPE but the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) says I should stay between 3-7 RPE. Since it’s all self-determined anyway, I guess the specific number doesn’t matter, but I’m trying to stay well below “Puke Factor 5” (of my own scaling system). Since I’m always telling people to push harder in class, it honestly feels a little hypocritical to back off my exertion.

I had to find out why it’s important to take it easy and apparently it’s because of something called “underfill.” The heart rate changes throughout pregnancy but increases early on, since there’s less blood pumping through my heart once it starts pumping through the baby’s as well. Less blood volume means my heart has to pump faster to deliver the same amount of blood as I had prior to pregnancy. Gradually, my body will make more blood and I’ll adjust. But I’ve got to say that right now this underfill is kicking my ass.

Now for the big news! We finally got our results back from the CVS procedure and everything is normal. Plus we found out that we’re having a girl! (Woo hoo!)

It’s like an early Christmas present to know our baby girl is healthy so far and we can start narrowing down baby names. My husband knew all along that we were having a girl, but I just didn’t have a feeling either way. My mom broke down and cried “I’m so happy!” because my sister is having another baby girl three months before me, too.

I have to say – girls rule.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.