Pregnancies are about as individual an experience as they come, whether you are carrying one, or more babies. There are a number of factors that dictate how much exercise, if any, a woman can undertake during her pregnancy, and they aren’t always factors within our control. This article is designed to help answer some common questions that are asked by women about whether you can exercise during a triplet pregnancy, but please, please, please discuss your individual circumstances with a trained health professional. This information is general in nature and should not be used as medical advice. There are a few risks associated with exercising during pregnancy, but there are also some wonderful benefits as well.
When considering an exercise routine during any pregnancy, it’s important to ask yourself what your intention is behind doing the exercise. Women exercise for a variety of reasons, including, but limited to;
- Looking after your mental health;
- The acute rehabilitation or long-term management phase of an injury;
- Managing weight;
- Social interaction;
- Training for competitive sports; and
- General strength, fitness and conditioning for optimizing performance in work related or lifestyle activities.
These are all noble reasons for having a regular exercise routine and being pregnant doesn’t mean you should give up our goals. You will probably find, however, that adjustments need to be made while you are pregnant in order to fulfill your intentions whilst doing what’s best for your body and your babies.
Whatever your intention is, understand that for the duration of your pregnancy and the following period of caring for one or multiple newborns, your priorities will be different to what they were prior to falling pregnant. You are now responsible for not only your health, but the health of you babies. If your goal is to get your pre-pregnancy body back as soon as possible or to gain as little weight as possible while pregnant, you might want to take stock of the reasons behind that pressure being placed on you. Is might be unrealistic expectations of your partner, peer pressure from a competitive friendship group or comparing yourself to celebrities you may have seen in tabloids. It’s important to remember that your body is undergoing massive transformation and doing amazing things. Be gentle with yourself and accept that bouncing back will take time.
The general rule of thumb when it comes to exercise during a triplet pregnancy (or any pregnancy for that matter), is that you don’t start an exercise routine that you weren’t doing beforehand. If you didn’t go running before getting pregnant, now isn’t the time to start. If you weren’t lifting weights beforehand, stay out of the squat rack for now. You have a lot of life ahead of you to get into those activities, but now isn’t the right time! If you weren’t doing any exercise before your pregnancy and want to get started with something, go for a gentler activity like swimming or work with an accredited health professional such as an exercise physiologist. They can help you with strength and mobility training in a safe way while you are pregnant.
What precautions should be taken during a triplet pregnancy?
Exercising during a triplet pregnancy must involve talking to you doctor. Everyone’s circumstances are unique and your doctor will consider things like:
- Your current fitness level, age and lifestyle;
- Your past history with pregnancies and/or pregnancy loss;
- Factors relating to the types of triplets you’re carrying that may affect the risk of complications.
Pregnancy isn’t the time to take on new physical challenges or push yourself in the gym, so it’s important to view your exercise as something to help you in your pregnancy, rather than something you want to do in spite of your pregnancy. The mental health benefits of exercise can be greatly beneficial during a triplet pregnancy and activities like swimming can feel sensational to take the load off for a bit and enjoy the buoyancy of the water! Pelvic floor strengthening work like Pilates and gentle resistance training may also alleviate back pain and help in recovery from your pregnancy when it comes to bladder weakness.
What are the main risks associated with exercise during a triplet pregnancy?
The main risks associated with exercise during pregnancy include:
- Fatigue is a common symptom in pregnancy but it comes with a side of Absolute Exhaustion during a multiple pregnancy. It’s important to listen to your body and rest when you need to. Being rigid about “to-do” lists, exercise schedules and work deadlines can really take its’ toll.
- During pregnancy, the body produces hormones called relaxin and progesterone, which make the tendons and muscles more stretchy than normal. The idea behind this is that your body needs to shift things around to make room for growing babies and eventually childbirth – pretty clever, huh? It’s important to understand this because it also means that the connective tissues that normally stabilize your joints during exercise with me more relaxed as well and therefore your joints will be more mobile and vulnerable to injury. In a triplet pregnancy, there are more of these hormones present and the joints will be even looser.
- The enormity of your pregnant triplet belly means your abdominal muscles have to separate in order to allow for expansion. The rectus abdominus (basically your deep seated six pack) separates down the middle to make room for your growing babies. The flip side of this is that your core stabilization is affected significantly as your trunk pulls apart, making you more prone to a back injury.
- Placentas, amniotic fluid and the actual development of multiple tiny humans growing inside your abdomen means your center of gravity is thrown way off as your pregnancy progresses. Not only can this affect balance, but it also places a lot of extra load on your lower back. Back pain is pretty common in single pregnancies and more prevalent when carrying multiples.
- Lying on your back for an extended period is discouraged during pregnancy, as it can obstruct blood flow to the fetus. During a multiple pregnancy, this is much more critical, so the position you are in during exercise may need to be modified.
When should I stop working out with triplets?
The biggest risk for most HOM (Higher Order Multiple) pregnancies is the increased likelihood of preterm labor. As your babies grow and begin to compete for space and put pressure on your body, every day physical tasks will become increasingly difficult. It’s important to keep the conversation open with your doctor about what sort of exercise you’re doing. Activities such as Pilates and swimming can actually become increasingly enjoyable in those later stages of your pregnancy as they can ease lower back pain. Water based activities are particularly good for that temporary feeling of weightlessness! Some women experience additional complications such as having a shorter cervix, early cervical dilation or infection, which may mean the risk of preterm labor is higher. Bed rest is not commonly prescribed these days, like it was in the past, but if you are at increased risk of early labor, you may be told to limit physical activity. The volume of blood in your body increases as your pregnancy progresses as well, which can leave you feeling breathless as your heart works hard to move that blood around your body. It’s normal to get puffed out more easily, so be mindful not to over do it!
Do you burn more calories when pregnant with triplets?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend that women consume an extra 300 calories per baby they are carrying. This increases to 450 calories per day by the third trimester. It’s common for women pregnant with triplets to be ravenously hungry (when they’re not experiencing nausea!) as their metabolism works hard growing those extra humans! The main thing to remember is that all calories aren’t created equal. Be sure to include plenty of vegetables and protein in your diet and especially foods rich in folate, zinc and iron. Your developing babies are completely dependent on your for their nutritional needs, so try to make good choices.
Running while pregnant with triplets
There are women who are able to run throughout their entire pregnancies or for a good portion of their pregnancy. It’s not the case for all women and the women who do manage to continue running are generally seasoned runners prior to becoming pregnant. Running when pregnant with triplets, however, is not usually advised, for all the reasons we mentioned above. If you are a dedicated runner and are getting twitchy at the idea of not hitting the pavement, you may need to drop back to a walk or swap out your miles for laps of the pool instead. Remind yourself that it’s temporary.