Pregnant Athlete: gear recommendations
Happy weekend, reader,
As I'm sure you appreciate on this here blog, I refrain from gear-intensive or brand-centric posts. My sponsors have partnered with me under the agreement that I'll never hashtag them in photos, write sponsored blog posts, or supply them with product placement images for marketing. This is an important element of building my business with integrity: no sponsor nor competition is pulling my strings.
With that note, there are a few items I'd like to highlight for you pregnant mountain badasses out there that will make your forty weeks of athletic growth a bit more comfortable - as well as a few products to avoid. As always, the opinions expressed here are solely my own and intended for the benefit of my readers.
Button your softshells and enjoy!
Get a professional bra fitting: Go to Nordstrom (no other store will do) and get a professional fitting. My breasts were the first and for a long time the only thing about my body to change - despite gaining only ten pounds in the first two trimesters I gained three cup sizes. I settled on the Natori Yogi bra in a few different colors. These bras have taken me through thousands of pregnant miles in relative comfort. No matter how big your boobs get this bra will fit, promise. Bonus: Nordstrom will also turn your bras into nursing-friendly bras once the time comes.
Fit Splint: Hate the name as I'm not injured and therefore don't need a splint but I love that I'm running through my third trimester without a stitch of pelvic pressure and while taking deep, nourishing breaths. Before slapping this band on for my first run with it around twenty-four weeks, I'd had a little bit of shortness of breath as well as some pubic bone soreness after twenty-plus-mile runs. Once I put this puppy on those issues totally resolved themselves. Why does this work to support full-deep breaths? It takes the strain off the transverse abdominus and when those suckers aren't squeezing your abdomen with as much force the pressure in your abdominal cavity decreases. When the pressure in your abdomen decreases your diaphragm (a pressure device) can work through its full range of motion delivering rich nutrients to your hard-working muscles and your lazy-ass fetus.
Employ a hairtie: With a healthy weight gain that goes mostly to the baby, you will continue to fit your pre-pregnancy pants. Yesss! To adapt your ski shells to your bigger belly just loop a hairtie through the button hole and around the button. Bigger belly = bigger band.
Bella Band: If the hairtie trick fails - or if you'd like to close that pesky gap where your zipper used to be - pull this synthetic thing over your pre-pregnancy shells and keep moving. Though not designed with performance in mind, this band is effective at keeping pants up in the alpine. It is also affordable, score!
UltrAspire Surge Race Vest: This is the only ultra-appropriate running pack that works around breasts and above a belly. Cut off one of the sternum straps to make it fit later in pregnancy and you're good to go.
Some really short running shorts: Because your legs are getting stronger and more muscular with all the time you've put in at the gym and on the trail. Show them off.
Active Mesh Tank: These are my daily go-to for stretching, kettlebell sessions, and climbing. They are made of a super stretchy fabric and are long enough to cover my whole stomach. If you're fortunate enough to have hung on to yours use them while pregnant.
Fleur Tank: This is my favorite do-everything pregnancy training, climbing, and running top. The fabric is supple and stretchy, the shape is flattering, and it accommodates whatever bra is appropriate for the activity.
Serenity Pants: Roll them under or over your belly, these pants will not restrict your movement or have the fetus angrily kicking at a tight waistband while you climb. I have three pairs and they all three end up in the week's wash.
Endurolytes: I stress the importance of proper hydration for all of my clients, pregnant or not. When the athlete functions in the pregnant state, good self care is the difference between quicker-than-normal recovery or being relegated to the couch for a few days afterward. Buy these electrolyte tabs, learn how to dose yourself, and thank me later.
Pregnancy harness: After one preggo at the climbing gym threw shade at me for still wearing my normal harness and leading, I watched her climb in her cumbersome pregnancy harness. As she ascended on top rope she had to stop and push the shoulder straps back onto her shoulders as they kept sliding off. Unlike a normal harness, the shoulder straps of a full-body harness are weight-bearing thus must stay put to keep the climber safe. I had to avert my eyes lest she fall out of the damn thing. Chances are if you maintain a moderate weight gain you'll still be in your normal harness through your third trimester so skip the expense of this silly contraption.
Heart rate monitor: Keeping one's heart rate below 140 bpm throughout pregnancy is an outdated, unscientific, and anti-woman recommendation that does not consider the functional physiology of the pregnant athlete. If it feels good to push yourself into the anaerobic zone (which you may notice becoming closer and closer to your maximum heart rate) then do it. If you didn't use a heart rate monitor before pregnancy there is no need to start using one now.
SheFit: Despite my initial excitement about the flexibility and usefulness of this bra (adjustable band and tons of support!) this one quickly made my BOO! list. After running my twenty-fourth ultra in this bra (first ultra while pregnant) I ended up with two-inch-long blisters between my breasts and bleeding rashes on both shoulders and my spine. I relegated this bra to cross training and after three washes (on gentle in a lingerie bag) the stitching unraveled. Fortunately I was able to return it.
Maternity-specific clothing: Avoid kitschy, overpriced, unnecessary maternity workout clothes like these. Not necessary, not functional, and not helpful when trying to promote the idea that pregnant women are also serious athletes.