Give Up Training to Conceive?

QUESTION

Dear Fitness Expert,
I already have a beautiful 21-month-old girl and we have been trying for our second baby. So far nothing has happened. Could my exercise regime be the cause? To shed baby weight after the last pregnancy I took up exercise. I use the treadmill and weight train more or less 5 times a week and love it as I feel really fit and healthy.

I know I ovulate because I've bought a digital ovulation tester. My doctors think it's fabulous that I exercise but I'm beginning to feel quite frustrated. Do I have to give up training to conceive?

Thank you,
Danielle

ANSWER

Hi Danielle,
Not at all. In fact, you are doing the best thing you can do in terms of trying to conceive.

By exercising, you are reducing stress, staying healthy and keeping your body strong for when you are pregnant.

However, let's talk about your inner core temperature. It is possible that by exercising rigorously, you could be spiking your body temperature. Here's the deal. When I talk to a pregnant exerciser, I caution her about the inner core temperature because a baby (fetus) has no way to control body temperature like we do -- sweating. So, the fetus can get too hot and it is believed excess heat can (possibly) harm the baby. This is why we are always concerned about mothers with a high fever while pregnant.

Your inner core temperature should not exceed 101 degree F while pregnant. This keeps your baby/fetus safe. Working on this theory, some researchers believe that a spike in a woman's inner core temperature can also create problems when trying to conceive. ** It should be noted that Olympic and professional athletes get pregnant all the time while in competition. Marathon runners -- who have both very low body fat (making it harder to conceive) and long, grueling hours of training -- also get pregnant quite frequently while in training.

So, how to check your inner core temperature? You will need to buy a rectal thermometer. I know this sounds horrible but it is the best way. While training, stop about 20 minutes into your exercise routine. Dash off to the bathroom, check your inner core temperature. You will learn to gauge your body -- and what activities cause a spike in your temperature. This is an excellent habit to get into so that when you do get pregnant, you can continue to train and be safe.

Continue working out -- as long as your doctor gives his/her medical permission to do so -- but you need to concentrate on 3 things:

  1. Stress. The more you think about wanting to get pregnant, the more you notice that everyone around you is pregnant, it will drive you crazy and that tension can actually make conception more difficult. Yes, we do know that outside factors -- worry/stress -- can be a road block for you.
  2. Water. Cut out the caffeine -- as much as possible -- as we also know it to put you in a higher 'difficulty' bracket for getting pregnant. Water -- staying hydrated -- will help you and your body prepare for pregnancy. It washes out toxins, keeps you more relaxed and healthy and is believed to increase your chances of getting pregnant.
  3. Keep exercising but do check your inner core temperature. This will help you/also make you feel more secure and confident about your exercise routine.

Good luck and let us know what happens!

-- Alex

Alexandra Allred

Alexandra Allred is a former member of the US Women's Bobsled team, is an accomplished martial artist, and continues to teach kickboxing while juggling her career as a full-time writer and mother of three. She has interviewed hundreds of athletes, models, actresses, trainers, doctors, and health/fitness experts as she sought to find answers to her own questions about working out while pregnant, arranging breast-feeding around a training schedule, diet when pregnant and breastfeeding, and encouraging her whole family.

Alex is the author of ten books, including Atta Girl! A Celebration of Women in Sports and Entering the Mother Zone: Balancing Self, Health & Family. We're excited to have her on board!