Our favorite Pilates pro Andrea Speir has a reputation for transforming clients’ bodies. Currently, this mama to be is going through a major transformation herself, and we’re taking notes for future reference; after all, it’s not often we see bods that are this level of aspirational – bump or no bump.
We asked Andrea to dish on her experience throughout her pregnancy and to share some healthy habits trimester by trimester. We love her insights on living well (realistically!) throughout her pregnancy. Tag a friend who needs this kind of good information and then try out a few of Andrea’s Pilates moves (pre or post-preggo)…
Pregnancy has been a truly mind-opening experience for me. Being a pre/postnatal fitness specialist and studying and training pregnant women for years made me feel pretty confident in the fact that I knew what was coming. Although to some extent that was true, there is a huge difference in feeling and experiencing something versus reading about it. There have been so many incredible moments for me as I’ve experienced this amazing science happening in my body, and I’ve been continually surprised at the emotional aspect, in addition to the physical changes. Each trimester has brought about new discoveries and revelations, so I’ve broken down my own personal experience below.
Sleep, Sourdough + Self-Compassion
As my pregnancy kicked off, I was beyond shocked at how tired I was. I have always struggled with sleep and it’s never been something that has come easily to me. (I dream of being one of those people that falls asleep in five minutes on the couch.) During these first few months, it was as if someone had tranquilized me. Some days it was the fight of my life to keep my eyes open; if I was lying on the couch, forget falling asleep in five minutes, I was asleep in two minutes, no matter what the time of day. This is something I could never have even imagined experiencing! It wasn’t even like exhaustion, it was like a natural and intense sleeping pill.
Overall, these first couple of months were tough. I felt like I was on a boat at all times. Kinda nauseous with the chance that I might throw up, but even if I did, I didn’t feel better because I was still on a boat. That’s the best way for me to describe the “all day” sickness. Additionally, my face looked like a teenage boy. Oh hormones! Speaking of hormones, my food cravings came on strong! Sourdough toast, mashed potatoes, Top Ramen (I know, I was surprised too), you name it. When I met with my doctor at the end she said I was on the high end for weight gain.
What you need to understand is I truly love health, fitness and nutrition. For me, working out and eating lots of nutritious food is what powers my body and makes me feel fantastic, so it’s not a lifestyle I choose just for the superficial results of it, but it’s something that fuels me and makes me feel great. Switching to someone that wanted to eat mashed potatoes on the couch and not move for six hours was not usual for me and it was fascinating for me to see how your body can so quickly shift and dip into a different path. Experiencing this in my own body gave me empathy and an understanding of how other people could experience, and live with, a different outlook both physically and emotionally, based on their lives.
+ Give yourself a break – your body is building all the truly crucial parts of a person right now. If you are tired, lie down. If you are craving something, don’t necessarily deprive yourself. Let yourself be somewhat pampered by being kind to your needs.
+ If you feel like you can’t take one more second of being sick – don’t look at the nine months ahead. Take it day to day. Each day is different and your body will change so much over this pregnancy; nothing is forever.
+ If you gain a surprising amount of weight, don’t freak out. Your hormones are going wild, your body is retaining water, and it will even out. Remember, everyone’s body is different and even if your friend didn’t gain any weight at all in the first trimester it doesn’t mean you are going to be huge. Again, practice kindness with yourself and understand this is a different phase, not your daily life.
Taking Charge of Transformation
Now this is when the fun began. I heard you begin feeling fantastic in the second trimester, and when I was sixteen weeks in and still feeling very tired and nauseous, I began to fear I was one of those poor women who is sick the entire time! By the seventeenth week, I began to feel like a new woman. The nausea went away and I had more energy than ever. It was almost as if I wasn’t pregnant anymore physically, but emotionally I was much different. I began thinking about what kind of parent I wanted to be. I began reading as many books as I could. I bought waaaay too many cute, tiny clothes on Baby Gap. This is when the sheer excitement and joy kicked in. I was going to be a mom! Between not feeling ill and not being so huge I was uncomfortable, I was truly reveling in this exciting time.
Additionally, my craving for comfort food went away and I craved healthy food. I wanted to feed my baby what she needed to grow strong. What amazed me was I would find myself craving something like carrots one week, then read in my pregnancy apps and books that during that week my body needed extra vitamin K and C, and carrots are a great choice. It’s so amazing how your body tells you what it needs with that much specificity! I loved this part and it never failed to amaze me. Toward the end of this trimester, I found myself nesting big time. I wanted to buy the crib, changing table, set up her room, research everything I could about babies. I loved getting the ultrasounds so I could see her adorable little body. This was truly a time of excitement.
+ Focus on healthy eating and begin playing with fun recipes! This is a great time to feed your child good food and also possibly pick up some healthy recipes for your upcoming mom life!
+ Incorporate a feel-good exercise regimen into your daily life (if it’s not already). Pilates, swimming and yoga feel great on the body as the joints begins to carry more weight. Staying strong will be important as this baby-bump weight increases and will come into play during labor and postpartum recovery.
+ Nest away! This is such a fun time to get lost in Pinterest boards for the nursery, looking at cute little baby shoes and letting yourself get excited about this new buddy who will soon be with you.
A Final Push + All The Feels
I was surprised how quickly things changed for me physically in the third trimester. I went from the energizer bunny to a completely exhausted woman again. This time it was different than the first trimester sleeping-tranquilizer feeling – this felt like true exhaustion. As a fitness instructor, in the second trimester, in a day I could teach multiple classes and private sessions while having meetings, conference calls, film videos, see friends, and so much more. In the third trimester (almost immediately from the first week it began), I could hardly make it through a few hours of work. It felt like I had run a marathon.
Sometimes at night when I get home from work, I sit in my car for an embarrassing amount of time because the thought of walking up the steps to my front door sounds like too much. The unfortunate side effect of this new exhaustion is that I can’t sleep as easily, which is all my body is craving. When I lie down, I begin thinking about the impending huge life change. When will I be able to come back to work and what will my childcare set-up be? Do I need help in the beginning with a postpartum nurse and can I afford it? What will labor be like? The high-flying buzz I existed on in my second trimester switched to a bit more of a focused “let’s figure these details out” buzz. Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond excited still, but nervous about not having every detail ironed out at the same time.
One of my favorite things is I truly feel like I spend all day every day with my little baby girl. She quite the little dancer. She constantly kicks and wiggles and punches. I began noticing that if I put on certain music, she reacts. (She loves Michael Jackson and Alicia Keys.) When she hears my husband’s voice, she kicks. Although her favorite time to wake up and party is 4:30 a.m. (oy), I know I will miss having this constant connection with her once I don’t have her with me 24 hours a day. In the first two trimesters, I loved looking at what was happening week by week in my online pregnancy apps. Now I find myself ignoring the apps a bit more and instead looking at my actual calendar and gawking at how soon the due date is.
I am so big at this point, getting up and down is difficult – and believe it or not, I am peeing even more than I had to previously. Oh, and by the way, pregnancy brain is a real thing. I thought I had it in the second trimester- nope. You seriously forget what you are saying in the middle of a sentence, can’t think of words, find yourself doing just totally mindless things. I also could be standing and talking to you and topple over. I knew balance got greatly compromised because of the changing equilibrium with your weight, but I didn’t know you could just stumble when you aren’t even moving!
This trimester I’ve noticed my husband is getting more excited as well. I think the fact that he can see her moving through my stomach and feel her moving has made him feel more included and like this is a real thing. I’ve felt somewhat bad that I’ve been experiencing every second with her in my stomach and he can only hear me talk about it, but now I feel like we are both much more involved and I can see his level of excitement growing as my bump grows so large and in charge.
+ If your body is telling you to slow down, listen to it. You will need to slow down with work, your social life and so much more once the baby is here and your body is doing way more than you even know at the moment so again, show yourself kindness.
+ Add in a bit of stretching and mindful meditation at night. This will help get your circulation flowing before you lie down to help prevent leg cramps and the meditation might help to center those whirling thoughts and allow you a bit of rest and recovery.
+ If you don’t feel ready, that’s normal. This is a huge life change that in a way is an unknown! Remind yourself how truly exciting that is. Your life is about to change for the better in a way you cannot even imagine and that is a truly magical and rare thing.
Pregnancy has been such a journey, and I feel like I’ve come to know my own body in a way I couldn’t have imagined. It’s truly incredible how our bodies just know what to do – we build a person! It seems like a “yeah, duh” moment, but it is beyond incredible. Yes, my body changed, yes, I threw up, yes, I found myself struggling with exhaustion and forgetfulness, yes, my joints ache and my mind is a flurry with what my new life will be like, but I have never been more excited about anything in my life. I don’t want to wait anymore, I just want her here in my arms.