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In part 2 of the article Melanie talks about the changes and challenges during the second and early third trimester. She also gives a few tips for women who are considering training while pregnant. We hope her story has been helpful to women who consider training during pregnancy as well as to their training partners, and families.


bumpWith my second trimester came the three B’s, the bump, the boobs, and the butt. Seriously, when I’m pregnant, I swear my bum grows at the same rate as my belly does. It’s all fine and dandy, except when you are trying to squeeze everything into a gi that you thought was huge before you got pregnant. Second trimester training was pretty uneventful. I tried to begin training with only partners I really trusted. Rolling with the newbie was a no-go as well as takedowns. I continued to roll but managed to be careful while doing so. Being careful does not mean you cannot give 100%. It means that you are more methodical with your actions, and reactions. I noticed that I was thirstier than ever, and really tried to keep up my water intake both before, and in class. I had to start wearing a different sports bra, and different shorts underneath my gi for optimal comfort, and agility. Anything super tight pressing across my hips was bothersome.

My pregnancy began to fly by but as I began entering the third trimester, I really found that no-gi was a lot easier to manage. With a changing body, growing by the millisecond, I was able to move more easily, and fluidly during our no-gi training days. I changed from my usual rash guard, and spats to a tight-fitting tank, and looser shorts over a slightly bigger pair of tights. As I mentioned, growing out of your gi is heartbreaking, even though you are growing an amazing life inside you, and you know that it is for the better. Trying to train in a gi that feels constricting is not fun. I had to tighten and re-tighten my gi top all the time, and that my gi pants were beginning to feel tight across the bum, and legs. You know how big gi pants are, right? Haha! I definitely should have ordered the curvy Fenom pants for pregnancy for sure. If you have multiple gis in multiple sizes, you are good to go but perhaps you won’t be like me, and you will be able to wear the same gi size your entire pregnancy.

babyonbladder

At the beginning of the third trimester, I finally told everyone in my tight-knit school at Brasil Wellness Center, Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu in Aldergove, Canada. I had been really nervous to tell them because how do you tell someone you have been rolling with for months that they have been rolling with a pregnant chick? Needless to say the guys were shocked but took it well! It is amazing what you can hide under a gi. I guess they just thought I was putting on weight. After a bit of teasing they all accepted it, and assured me that my little baby would be born trying to arm bar his umbilical cord. I feel so lucky to train with such an amazing bunch of guys! Around week 23 I began to make some changes. Avoided knee on belly, avoided take downs unless it was with a controlled partner, and took it a little easier in rolling.

Well, here I am at week 32/40, and still training. I may be a lot bigger, and wearing my coach’s gi but I’m still training! As the weeks go by, I ‘m beginning to feel slower. To be honest, it is hard to sit out of certain aspects of the training or warm up but at least I am there, and still learning every day. I try to do what I can, and improvise when I cannot, and that’s really the best any of us can do, right? It is hard when your mind is able but your body just cannot, and should not do what you want it to. I guess my midwives were right when they said to listen to your body. Our bodies are strong and capable, and we really do not give them enough credit.

A few tips for you pregnant BJJ women out there:

  • Always bring water to class. Stay hydrated both on and off the mats.
  • Invest in a few good sports bras. For 2-3 training days a week I ended up ordering 2 sports bras in a bigger size than I usually wear, and then a few months later an even larger one. Not just to reign those bad boys in, but because I was finding that the tight band was digging into my ribs and making it harder to breathe.
  • Get a few looser pairs of compression shorts for under your gi. My Under Armour type shorts that I had been wearing, began to dig into my hips and across my belly, and really started to bug me during training sessions. 
  • Borrow or buy a huge bigger gi. I tend to carry my babies really low, and by week 27/28 I had finally outgrown my beloved Fenom Kimonos gi, and had to wear my coach’s gi. Let me tell you, when you outgrow your gi, it is a sad, sad day.
  • Listen to your body, consult your doctor or midwives throughout your pregnancy, not just at the beginning. Involve your coach, and let him or her know your limitations. Ask for recommendations, and keep him or her informed. Only do what you are able to. Try not to feel guilty if you have to sit out. Do what you can, and modify what you cannot or do something else. When everyone is doing leap frogs during warm up, you do push ups!

We wish Melanie a great rest of the pregnancy and a complication free child-birth. We cannot wait to see the baby pics!

lucUpdate 10/15/2014: The beautiful baby boy, Luc Evan Thomas, was born on September 16th at 1:28am, weighing 7lbs 15 oz and was 20 inches long. Congratulations!