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The Pregnant Triathlete

Whether you planned your pregnancy or not, finding out you're expecting can be an emotional roller coaster, especially if you're a dedicated Triathlete.

For the majority of athletes, your sport becomes your identity. It's what you spend your energy, your time and your hard earned money on and is often all you talk about and how you blow off steam, de-stress and relax. We've all heard the phrase; 'How do you know someone is a triathlete? They'll tell you!'. It's all encompassing. Just scroll through a triathletes Instagram feed!

Let's set aside all of the excitement about becoming a parent, there can also be another, quite unsettling feeling that accompanies the joy of finding out that you're pregnant and something we don't like to talk about so much. It's a bit like fear, not of parenting, but of losing your identity, losing a key part of who you are and what you do. Its similar to how you feel when you're injured, when you have to stop and take time out.

What's important to be aware of is that you don't have to stop completely, if you don't want to.

When you're pregnant, everyone has an opinion on what you should and shouldn't be doing with your body. They mean well, but they'll volunteer advice and warnings, especially if you're exercising! Whilst times are changing, exercising pregnant women are often looked at with concern as though they're being reckless with the baby. Society as a whole isn't well educated on pregnancy and even less so on what is and isn't safe. Which is crazy considering how many women get pregnant!!

Historically, there has been little research on pregnant women exercising, this is mainly down to fear of harming the pregnant women or baby should the study push the subject too far. But this shouldn't be the reason why pregnant women are wrapped up in cotton wool for 9 months.

Times are changing but it will take more time still for society to adjust their general opinion and accept that it's ok for pregnant women to workout. The popularity of social media is helping speed things up and change opinion, we're starting to appreciate that a fit and strong pregnant woman is most beneficial for both baby and for mum.

There are several hugely inspirational athletes who have continued to workout through their pregnancies, so if you ever need a little bit of reassurance, then strong women are never far away!

There are no rules in Triathlon preventing pregnant women from racing, so if you've checked with your midwife and you're feeling strong, safe and empowered, then go for it! I'd recommend noting on your bib and race entry that you're pregnant and how many weeks - this will help should you need any assistance during the race.

If you aren't up to racing, then you can still keep training. I'd recommend getting a qualified triathlon Coach and one who has a pre and post natal qualification to help ensure you're as safe as possible.

If the thought of being on your bike or trying to run is too uncomfortable, then try a pregnancy yoga class to keep you moving and to stay strong or go the gym and use the weight machines.

It's important to know that birth can be physically hard, in fact, many have compared it to running a marathon. This is why you shouldn't give up.  If you've got a straightforward pregnancy then keep moving, keep lifting and don't let the judgey people make you feel like you can't. If you have complications, then speak to your consultant or midwife before starting and follow their advice.


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